In a market that is rapidly changing and where margins are diminishing, it is only with value-add that stakeholders in the distribution chain can expect better profits.
The success of a value-added distributor depends mainly on channel empowerment through knowledge sharing and skill building. This means that a VAD must continually develop and improve all aspects of the business and thereby ensure a consistently high level of customer satisfaction.
For AgilityGrid, training plays a key role in the VAD repertoire. “We ensure that all our vendors’ certification and training courses are rolled out to all key channel partners across the region. These could be as online training courses that we offer in collaboration with our vendors and can be accessed remotely by all partners or in person as part of roadshows,” explained Costa Boukouvalas, CEO at AgilityGrid. “It is also important to support the partners throughout the sales process from solution design expertise through to implementation, training, follow up and the option of maintenance services. This gives partners the unique advantage of differentiating their position in the market and helping them to focus their resources and grow business.”
In order to up-skill and certify its channel partners, Spectrami’s training program offers specialization workshops as well. This program includes product and technical presentations in addition to discussions around the challenges that the customer may face in network or security environment. The company also employs a unique customer engagement model to identify the opportunities for channel partners. Founder and Managing Director at Spectrami, Anand Choudha stressed that building high levels of engagement with the end-users is very important, especially at the initial stages of on-boarding a new vendor.
“It is our continuous and ongoing effort to invest on channel initiatives which include long term partner growth plans, partner certification and reward programs, and channel enablement sessions. Our constant focus is on channel growth and development. We have been empowering our channel community, which has significantly contributed to our growth and development as a value-added distributor in the region,” added Jose Thomas Menacherry, Managing Director at Bulwark Technologies.
According to Sanjeev Walia, CEO at Spire Solutions, their channel program is designed to help partners build expertise around the company’s security solution offerings and to accelerate their business growth. “For channel partners, we have the best rewards program not only in the region, but also in the industry,” added Walia.
Enabling their channel partners with easy access to the right resources and solutions is of prime importance for AgilityGrid. This means not just deploying the right resources from its vendors but also making their own investment in resources like AgilityGrid’s demo centres where they hire highly qualified engineers to help their partners through the entire process. “We also support our partners by creating awareness and generating enquiries on our products through an extensive channel marketing program including presentations and roadshows, database marketing, advertising, PR and social media,” stated Boukouvalas.
To help generate new business for its vendors and ensure that the true value of their solutions is translated to the end user, Spire Solutions uses a number of channels like direct contacts, exposure in key events and co-branded direct marketing campaigns. “We have put greater emphasis on customer roadshows, partner enablement workshops, training activities and on sponsoring cyber security focused conferences and exhibitions that have proven to be effective at capturing mindshare of the customers,” added Walia.
At Spire Solutions, collaborating with channel partners is more than just recruitment. Walia emphasized that enabling channel partners and encouraging them to invest resources and time to strengthen their ability to address market opportunities is an essential part of their strategy.
The duties of a VAD do not end at empowering partners with training and technical skills. In order to differentiate themselves from other IT distributors, they must also contribute to generating new business avenues for partners. A value-added distributor needs to work as an extended arm of its vendors offering additional services to partners and customers. This value addition can be segmented into three areas, namely pre-sale, support of the sale and post-sale and may also include provision of training and channel enablement sessions for partners and marketing support through demand generation and various marketing campaigns.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that a true VAD offers programs and services that add value to the distributed products to increase their net worth. To differentiate themselves from competition, the value-added distributors need to add value at every stage from technology consultation, channel enablement and solution implementation to technical support and in-depth training.