Some five months after the U.S.-based distributor opened its doors north of the border with D&H Canada, the company has gotten an endorsement from networking vendor Cisco Systems with a distribution agreement to tackle the Canadian SMB market.
The agreement is an extension of the relationship between Cisco and D&H in the U.S., and will leverage many of the same programs and initiatives that have made Cisco and D&H successful there. And the opportunities in the Canadian SMB market are even greater says Greg Tobin, general manager of D&H Canada.
“Because of Canada’s demographic and geographic diversity, SMB continues to be the great frontier for IT development in Canada,” said Tobin. “The rates of growth are staggering.”
While the SMB opportunity is great, it also takes a great deal of heavy lifting to leverage it says Tobin, which is why D&H Canada has put strong focus on the market since its inception. The typical D&H customer has emerged as legal firms, accounting firms, doctor’s offices, insurance brokers and real estate offices, all with 30 seats or less, says Tobin. D&H doesn’t get a lot of calls for 250 or more desktops or monitors, so he says they’re well aligned to the SMB market.
Geographically, Tobin says D&H has a high representation of rural customer sets, typically SMB solution providers in cities 30,000 people or less reaching multiple municipalities. The president is usually very interactive and hands-on with their staff, and doubles as a salesperson.
Tobin added when D&H Canada opened in July it targeted to bring-on 1000 resellers in its first year, and after five months has already surpassed 800.
“We’re absolutely excited to be partnered with Cisco because we’ve seen that over the last several years they’ve been one of the most active vendors in the SMB market,” said Tobin. “We see it as a ringing endorsement of our commitment to the Canadian market that they’ve taken us on within the first five months of our presence in Canada.”
D&H hopes to bring “dozens” of new Cisco partners on board in the first six months, and will be working to educate its partners on the value of Cisco solutions as well as the ease and benefits of the certification process.
“Cisco represents a great value for that customer-set, as well as a great business model for the SMB solution providers to work into,” said Tobin. “Although we do have some alternate products, we see Cisco as being the gold standard.”
D&H Canada will be mirroring much of the program of its U.S. parent, including proactively marketing Cisco products using print, Web, direct e-mail campaigns and dedicates sales team campaigns as well as extended credit programs.
“To make sure they’re successful, we’re going to have a very strong campaign to give these resellers the flexibility to grow with the program with increased credit lines to support the anticipated growth,” Tobin added.
The SMB space is the fastest growing IT segment in Canada, representing 99.7 per cent of Canadian businesses says Rick Graham, vice-president, distribution and channel operations with Cisco Canada. He adds these businesses are increasingly reliant on IT, and need tailored SMB solutions properly supported by channel partners.
“Our focus is on really building our capacity and capability to serve the SMB space, and we’re working with our distributors to accommodate the needs of the smaller channel partners, and are looking at building innovate new routes to market,” said Graham.
Cisco has invested heavily in this space with its Smart Business Communications System (SBCS) platform of SMB-focused solutions and its Select Certification program for SMB-focused partners, says Graham, adding SMB is Cisco’s fastest growing partner segment in Canada. The program currently has 32 partners in Canada, and this fiscal year’s growth target has been increased from 125 to 200.
It’s a market segment D&H has experience reaching, says Graham, adding their expertise and higher-touch model have proven successful.
“The advantage we see with D&H is just based on their focus. The geographies and verticals they focus on are very important to us to making sure we get the right partners (into the program),” said Graham, adding it’s not just about the number of partners but also making them successful. “We see them really helping us recruit and develop the VAR partners we need in the SMB segment.”