Channel Post speaks with Daniel Nargunam, Channel Manager at VAD Technologies about strategies for creating a successful partner ecosystem and his role in front-ending the channel.
What is your career history to date and key career achievements?
I started my career with an IT system integrator and now I have been in IT Distribution, handling channel for more than a decade. I have played an instrumental role in establishing the channel for brands like NetApp, Pure Storage and Fujitsu. I would say that my key strength lies in channel recruitment for disruptive and innovative technologies.
What are your roles and responsibilities in the company as a channel influencer?
My main tasks involve helping the channel choose the right technology in accordance with opportunities available in the market. Further to this, I am also responsible for mapping the channel to the right customer and giving this intelligence back to the vendor, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between them.
As the Channel Manager, I also ensure that our resellers are able to maintain a profitable business and that they sell solutions that can deliver strong ROI and/or lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for their customers.
What qualities should a channel influencer possess to lead the channel?
Gaining their partner’s trust is the most important trait that a channel manager/influencer must possess. The objective should not simply be about gaining an opportunity; rather about winning the partner. On-boarding a partner is usually a one-time activity but once you connect in the right manner, you can always reach out to them for any product.
What is your advice on finding success in the channel?
The resellers usually take a lot of risk when it comes to payment, implementation, etc. since they are the first point of contact for the customer. Hence, for generating a successful channel it is imperative that the resellers’ point of view be kept in mind rather than just focusing on selling a technology/product. If we help the reseller grow when they start up, they will grow with you and be loyal to the brand as well.
How would you assess the current state of channel?
Actually, it’s the most challenging time for the channel as a lot of new vendors are entering the region and expecting to hire the existing channel that is already working hard to achieve pre-committed targets. Some distributors have adopted a new go-to-market strategy – to reach end-users directly – and are therefore squeezing the reseller’s margin. Even customers are no longer brand-loyal which increases pressure on the reseller to on-board new brands and technologies.
What is the biggest challenge facing the IT channel in the region?
Credit facility and collection are some of the major problems for the channel at a time when it faces challenges like reduced opportunities and increasing competition.
If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?
The manner in which channel is reaching out to customers to take up new technologies needs to change drastically. The channel is very comfortable selling major brands but fails to understand that in doing so, they will be getting lower margins at a high risk of losing to competition. If the channel starts selling new disruptive technology they will be able to win the customers easily and make better margins.
How can partners work effectively to generate growth in the channel?
Vendors need to make sure they also take care of marketing and lead generation along with the reseller who is investing time and efforts to promote their brand.
Distributors can offer technical strength to the reseller when it comes to pre-sales and post-sales, as there are so many technologies to adopt.
The reseller’s responsibility is to make sure they work with the end user as closely as possible and start thinking from the customer’s perspective which means understanding the customer priorities and delivering accordingly.