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Ingram Micro scores hat-trick at VTN with new partner tools

Partners can move their businesses forward by removing program complexity, sharing best practices and maximizing rebates

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. – Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) used this year’s VTN (VentureTech Network) spring invitational to announce the availability of three new initiatives to help VTN members drive their businesses forward: VTN Connect, VTN Incentive Support Program and VTN Business Intelligence Portal.

The distributor first announced these initiatives during its fall invitational in Denver, while the resources were still in their pilot stages. At this year’s conference, Ingram announced their immediate availability.

With VTN Connect, Jim Veraldi, executive vice-president of Denville, N.J.-based Micro Strategies, said C-level executives can discuss and engage in Mastermind groups. These are peer-to-peer advisory groups where individuals can discuss things going on in the industry. The Mastermind groups will meet four times a year and will also include virtual meetings. The cost to join VTN Connect is $3,000.

“The value of VTN Connect is that it will help drive your business by allowing members to share best practices with their peers,” Veraldi said. “While the businesses will be different, the challenges being faced are similar.”

Currently, there are nine organizations signed up with VTN Connect, including two from Canada, with more partners expected to sign up after this conference.

JoeAnne Hardy, president of Saskatoon, Sask.-based WBM Office Systems and co-president of VTN, said her company is one of the Canada participants in VTN Connect.

“We haven’t set a target in terms of the number of members we’d like to see in VTN Connect,” Hardy said. “We want people who are committed to the program and who are solid and functional moving forward with this.”

In addition to VTN Connect, Ingram also announced several functional training programs for VTN members to take part in. These are all fee-based programs and pricing varies said Rita Baiana, senior group manager for channel marketing at Ingram Micro. These functional tracks currently include: sales, certification, technical, marketing, and finance and operations. More tracks planned in the future.

To help its partners get the most out of their vendor programs and relationships, Ingram has also launched its VTN Incentive Support Program, which aims to help with vendor program complexity.

Ryan Grant, director of channel marketing at Ingram, said partners usually manage multiple vendor relationships and Ingram wanted to help with the associated complexities. With a dedicated Incentive Support team of seven people in place (three in the front-end and four in the back-end), partners are better able to identify vendor program opportunities and can also increase their profit margins.

“We wanted to remove vendor program complexity, simplify processes and offer more resources,” Grant said. “In the pilot we were working with HP’s PartnerOne program, which offers both front-end and back-end support and is designed to be an extension of your sales organization.”

Ingram is currently in active discussions to on-board additional vendors to the Incentive Program, including IBM, Cisco and Microsoft.

This program is available exclusively to VTN members, at a cost of $2,000. Partners can also meet with an Ingram Micro Incentive Support team member once every 30 days to see where their business is tracking in terms of the vendor rebates and where they’re are at in their business.

Alan McDonald, president and CEO of Simi Valley, Calif.-based value-added reseller AllConnected Inc., said the new incentive support program brings tremendous value to his 19-employee company.

“Navigating vendor programs has been a challenge for us because programs are constantly changing,” he said. “This program helps us navigate through this by acting as a one-stop shop so we know who to talk to. The big benefit for us is the front-end service and having someone at Ingram Micro (as part of their VTN Incentive Support Team) that we can talk to.”

Lastly, the VTN Business Intelligence Portal provides partners with customizable data that’s collected from seven-years of order history data from the entire VTN community. This also includes a member’s own sales data, as well as end-user intelligence from Ingram’s database of records. The objective with the portal is to enable partners to identify refresh and other growth opportunities in the market, understand customer buying behaviour, and also helps to chart IT sales trends.

“The VTN Business Intelligence Portal allows partners to go out and refresh some new technology to the tune of $2 billion,” said Kirk Robinson, vice-president of channel marketing at Ingram, North America.

“Partners can now have this information at the palm of their hands,” Robinson said. “We’ve also piloted a Web-based lead generation tool with some of our VTN members. This tool will integrate with our Business Intelligence Portal by taking leads from vendors and putting it through the same system to help drive more MDF (marketing development funds).”

The cost of the Business Intelligence Portal is a one-time fee of $4,000, in addition to a fee of $250 per quarter, Robinson said.

To help partners get acquainted with these new resources, Robinson said Ingram will also be making Webinars available to partners to show them how to use the Business Intelligence Portal and lead generation tool, as well as helping them to build marketing campaigns.