Andrew Mulholland, marketing manager at D-Link UK & Ireland, identifies how resellers can take advantage of vendors' service offerings to grow their business.
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It is fair to say that the channel landscape has changed significantly over the years. Resellers are increasingly moving on from simply 'box-shifting' to offering value-added services. At the same time, vendors themselves are keen to promote their own offerings. The question is: how can the two complement one another for mutual gain?
Vendor offerings are certainly relevant to resellers who currently don't provide additional technical services, but also they can be complementary to a reseller's existing services offering. However, many resellers are currently unclear about the added value of working with vendors in this way, and this is partly due to the complexity of some of today's vendor service propositions. To encourage more resellers, vendors should be making their service offerings as easily accessible as possible. For example, they should have a clear structure in place, which offers different services tailored to the end user's requirements. This should be easy to understand and specify, allowing resellers to quote any service level against any product without the need to carry reference material or understand more than a handful of service part codes.
Recurring revenues, increasing lines of business
So, what's in it for the reseller? One of the main benefits is that it actually increases revenues without needing to constantly invest in their own internal resource. Providing a comprehensive support service to customers can add great value and means revenues needn't stop at the initial point of sale. Resellers also have the chance to expand the product sets that they offer. For instance, if a reseller specialises in networking, it could expand its offering to provide storage or IP surveillance products and offer support services from relevant vendor(s), thereby increasing their ability to cross and up sell to customers.
Lending a technical hand
Many businesses face a variety of pressures on their time and resources and often lack the on-site IT expertise to deal with problems when they arise. This means they are dependent on a fast and reliable service from their reseller. So, if resellers can offer customers a good service, such as on-site product exchange 24/7, this is likely to put them in a favourable position. This is where closer vendor relationships can prove beneficial yet again.
Meeting demand and expanding geographic boundaries
Resellers can also be in a better position to cope with seasonal demand and not have to worry about having to turn down opportunities. A lot of business can be seasonal as it is aligned to public sector year-end or school holiday installation periods. Vendor support services can help a reseller scale up without them having to employ more staff. A further benefit is that resellers can expand geographically. For example, if a reseller is based in Manchester and has successfully carried out a number of projects with local schools, why can't they look to fulfil similar opportunities elsewhere in the wider area? Having extra vendor support can help open up new sales opportunities for resellers, as they will now be able to call upon more localised support services.
Vendor services aren't appropriate for every reseller, but for the rest they should be looking at how this additional support could fit with their existing service offerings. Clearly, there are a lot of resellers who could gain from taking advantage of this. It will ultimately help them strengthen customer relations and add more value, while helping to increase their revenues. The key for resellers is to decide what level of vendor support they need and ensure it works for both their business and their customers.