Blog | May 13, 2013

World-Class Advice For VARs: Inside Ingram Micro's Partner Invitational

By Mike Monocello, editor-in-chief, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @monocello

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Last week I attended the Ingram Micro International Solutions Partner Invitational in Hollywood, FL. During my time at the event, I had the opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers and interview most of the distributor's top brass. Following are some of the best quotes/learnings I jotted down in my notebook:

  • Paul Bay, senior EVP & president, NA, asked attendees to lean on the distributor for help. This is great advice for every VAR, regardless of which disty you use. I've repeatedly heard from all distributors that they have a slew of products, services, programs, etc. that VARs can take advantage of to supplement their shortcomings. Speak up and talk with your distributor about where you need help, particularly if it's moving into new technologies.

    Bay told the story of one partner whose customer said "I didn't think you did that," when the VAR asked why they weren't asked to quote on a VoIP project. The truth was, the VAR didn't "do that" but was interested in the business. Rather than pass, they reached out to Ingram Micro, who was able to walk the VAR through the VoIP sale and eventually win the business. The conversation also led the VAR to bid on and win a video surveillance install with the customer, despite not having experience with IP video.

    The moral to Bay's story: If you don't sell "it" to your customers, someone else will. Sell beyond your existing portfolio, beyond your comfort zone. Cross sell, and expand your value. Lean on your distributor and vendor partners for help adding new products to your portfolio.
  • When it comes to digital signage, there's tons of opportunity with digital menu boards, indoor and outdoor. Talk with your customers about this!
     
  • Ingram Micro is building a video surveillance lab in its Buffalo office for training.
     
  • Great opportunity for digital signage in retail and healthcare.
     
  • Video surveillance drives networking, storage, and power requirements by a factor of 20+. Or, $1 of physical security drives $2 to $3 of networking, storage, and power spend. So, if you're a networking VAR interested in making more money, add IP video surveillance. You'll get that hardware sale, plus big time networking sales!
     
  • Keynote Scott Deming encourages VARs to "give customers a powerful, unexpected experience."

    Deming also says that what you do (values, services, performance) and what your customers think you do, are often very different.

    "People are willing to pay a premium price for a premium experience."

    Ask customers what their expectations are, then "shatter those expectations or create completely new ones" by going above and beyond.

    As you sit across from a potential customer, ask yourself "If I were that person, what would I love from me right now?"
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