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Contracts causing channel headaches

Channel firms are among those SMEs that are struggling to get to grips with all of the ins and outs of the contracts

The channel knows only too well that being a 'trusted advisor' means so much more than just providing the customer with the latest kit.

A portion of the job is around providing the advice and guidance that users need to make sure they are staying on the right side of numerous data protection laws.

The problem for a number of resellers is that they are looking for some help themselves when it comes to getting guidance on contracts.

A survey from insurance specialist Hiscox found that 74% of IT and tech business owners were struggling with contracts. The other big issue for SMEs was understanding compliance issues and that not only spells an opportunity for those resellers that are up to speed, but also for distributors.

Customers have been asking for guides, advice and support to help them navigate through contracts and that might well be the sort of help they might expect to get from the channel.

"When you’re busy liaising with contractors and anxious to get down to business, it can be very tempting to simply sign a contract and take care of the details further down the line. Exploring how this ‘sign it and see’ approach could leave your business vulnerable, we let you in on why you should take a special interest in the details of your contract, particularly in the IT industry," stated James Fulforth and Roberta Draper from London based solicitors, Kingsley Napley LLP.

They have written a guide for Hiscox that spelt out exactly why SMEs were struggling with contracts, particularly some of the problems that can crop up for resellers.

"Most IT businesses will have standard contractual terms that they’re familiar with, but when these terms are amended it can cause some uncertainty. Amends usually appear in the commercial detail of the contract, where you may find, for example, the specification for a particular software product being developed. This detail needs to be accurately captured in the commercial agreement for each party to understand what they’re officially agreeing to," stated the guide.

"As an IT company, alongside your written contract, you may also find you have a series of contracts that arose from agreements made over email or telephone. This can lead to uncertainty around what has been agreed," the guide added.

In a stroke of good timing Tech Data is holding a partner academy which is specifically focusing on the SME market.

Sara Gemmell, marketing services director at the distributor said that the event, which is being supported by several vendors including Cisco and HPE taking place at the end of next month, will provide some guidance to those selling to small businesses.

“It is specifically designed to help SMB-focused partner sales teams improve their knowledge and skills, get right up to date with the very latest solutions and technologies, and deepen their relationships with vendors and our own teams," she said.

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