I remember it very well: Four years ago during CDN’s annual roundtable Tech Data Canada president Rick Reid said matter-of-factly that box pushers will be out of business if they do not change and start developing some expertise selling solutions.
Solution selling is nothing new. But from that
time an increasing number of resellers started selling solutions, adding higher-margin services and actually carving out a living.
However, the mid-tier and lower end VARs have had trouble expanding this way, while top multi-national resellers such as NexInnovations and Compugen have been able to thrive.
What it comes down to is time and resources: These two integrators have both in spades, while other resellers are struggling with a) satisfying customers; b) making payroll; c) drumming up business; or d) closing business. They do not have the luxury of time to develop, research and write solution-oriented proposals. They do not have the time or resources to do product comparisons. They do not have the wherewithal to gain more expertise in a hot area of the IT market. They can’t get staff trained and certified on the latest whiz-bang hardware or software because they’re out attending to customer wants and needs.
This is the harsh reality and one of the main reasons, especially here in Canada, why vendors and distributors continue beating the solution-selling drum.
Distributors have even taken it to the next level by creating solutions for the resellers so that all they have to do is sell it. The problem with this is that not all cookie-cutter solutions suit every customer.
Distributors such as GE Access have even gone as far as to write the proposals for the product lines it carries.
The biggest barriers for GE Access resellers in terms of selling solutions are the time to write and research proposals and gaining expertise in new vertical markets, according to John Hines, the company’s vice-president of corporate marketing.
“”We found that (the resellers) were reactive after end-user calls. It was all about fulfillment instead of flying in the face of what really happens with customers, which is having to solve their business problems,”” he said.
With its sales tools “”we are trying to address this and put them into proactive mode.””
Resellers have to be reactive because there are only 24 hours in a day. Becoming proactive means taking a lot of time away from a company’s day-to-day business operation. It is possible, but at what price? You may risk a customer’s loyalty or you may risk a potential business opportunity.
It is a matter of checks and balances and solution selling is still a pipe dream for most resellers in Canada.