Take Advantage Of Your VAD's Value
Distributors offer valuable educational programs and services that aim to help resellers boost sales. Are you benefiting from your distributors' value-add?
Are you taking full advantage of your VAD (value added distributor)? VADs offer programs and services that many times you cannot take advantage of through the vendor. As changes take place in markets such as government and healthcare, and technologies emerge and advance, your VAD can help you adjust to these changes. The qualifications to take advantage of each of these programs vary by distributor. Taking a closer look into what your VAD can offer may help guide you on the path to lucrative investments.
Hands-On Training Programs
New within the last year for VAD BlueStar Inc. (Florence, KY) is its dealer program, Fusion. BlueStar is a national and international provider of point of sale and bar code products and services. Becoming a Fusion partner allows dealers to resell software from a select group of software developers, who have partnered with BlueStar. The goal of the program is to give VARs the tools they need to profit from reselling the products. "For each specific software and vertical market, there is training held at our facility in Cleveland. Resellers receive training here on each of the software programs, as well as the hardware and connectivity involved for the total solution," says Matt Chamberlin, director of marketing at BlueStar Inc. There are four training sessions per month and each lasts for two to three days depending on the software package.
Recently BlueStar launched a lead-tracking program. BlueStar generates 35,000 plus leads a year; half of those go to Fusion partners and the rest go to remaining VARs. Fusion partners have the advantage of logging on to BlueStar's Web site with a password to see and access leads.
To qualify for the Fusion program, resellers must go through an enrollment process with varying criteria. Factors such as the market they are in, expertise, and the number of technical and sales employees on staff are considered. "After resellers meet the criteria, they must go through training to become a Fusion partner. After training they are registered in the process and receive a protected territory for the software they are enrolled in. At that point, leads are administered to the Fusion partner for their solutions on a daily basis," says Chamberlin. The entire process typically takes one to two months depending on the software and training required. BlueStar hopes to have 300 Fusion partners by the end of 2004.
Free Certification, Competency Training
Many VADs have conferences to educate resellers on new technology, offer training on product lines, or educate partners. GE Access, a VAD focused on the technology areas of security, storage, networking, and on Sun Microsystems, Inc., is offering a competency requirement training class to resellers at the company's annual New Frontiers conference. Sun Microsystems has implemented an annual recertification, which means all Sun resellers have to be recertified by October 2003. "With New Frontiers taking place in August, we thought it would be timely to offer the training to our customers at this time. We have condensed what would typically be a two-day competency requirement training class to one day at the end of the course," says Randy Wright, director of Sun Services at GE Access (Westminster, CO).
To prequalify for the training, GE Access' resellers will need to attend breakout sessions that are offered during the conference. There is no charge for the competency training and resellers have the option of using marketing dollars they accrue from selling Sun's products to pay for the registration fees. "Offering competency training at a reseller conference has made it easier for our partners to obtain the certification in the required timeline," says Wright. He believes more programs will be rolled out underneath this umbrella in the upcoming year.
Reach Government, Healthcare Markets
To help its VARs take advantage of the government market, SYNNEX Information Technologies, Inc. (Greenville, SC) has made its GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) Schedule available to all of its resellers. (GSA Schedules are contracts that allow federal customers to acquire more than 4 million services and products directly from more than 8,600 commercial suppliers.) This gives resellers the benefits of selling a GSA Schedule without the responsibility of maintaining one. SYNNEX handles all of the legal responsibilities associated with GSA Schedules, including regulations and compliance. Eddie Franklin, manager of SYNNEX's government division, says the GSA Schedule is beneficial to all resellers who market to federal customers. "If a reseller does not have a GSA Schedule, they would have to partner with a potential competitor to meet customers' requirements. SYNNEX allows that reseller to be an agent to its GSA Schedule," says Franklin. Acting as an agent gives resellers access to SYNNEX's 11,000 line items and allows them to sell all of the products on the schedule.
If resellers already have a GSA Schedule, they can take part in a teaming program with SYNNEX. This gives resellers who cannot obtain a letter of supply access to SYNNEX's lines. It also takes the burden of administrative duties out of the hands of the reseller and gives the responsibility to SYNNEX. "We have had the schedule since July of 2002. But, this is the first year we are working to beef it up in terms of lines and vendor partners," says Franklin. The schedule is available to any SYNNEX reseller in good standing.
Westcon Group, Inc. (Tarrytown, NY), a global channel provider of networking technology, is also focusing on the government arena, as well as healthcare. Westcon offers the Federal Edge program, which aims to help resellers sell product in the government marketplace. Benefits include a business development plan that includes a GSA Agent Program, federal consulting, and an advanced logistics platform. Since the government finalized HIPAA requirements, Westcon offers Healthcare Support. This program helps resellers take advantage of new opportunities in healthcare. "We are putting together presentations on five security areas ranging from physical security to authentication, so our partners can discuss these markets," says Ron Sheps, education market manager at Westcon Group North America. To qualify for these programs, Sheps says Westcon has a relationship-based model. There is no fee, and every level of partnership has its advantages.
Regardless of what program you are looking for, building a relationship with your VAD will help you better service your customers. Exploring who your VAD is and which services you are looking to obtain will help you decide which programs are right for you.