May 21, 2014
In an increasingly crowded market, resellers need to stand out from the competition more than ever before; to achieve this, building a portfolio of innovative, comprehensive solutions that meet the diverse needs of both potential and existing customers is fundamental starting point. But products and services don’t sell themselves and are not unique to any given reseller. In order to create a competitive advantage channel companies need to find another way to differentiate themselves and this can be an uncommon knowledge and understanding of the technologies available today and in the coming future.
One of the easiest ways to gain this is by leveraging vendor-training programmes: not only are these usually free but they will ultimately provide much more than simply knowledge but also new revenue streams, higher margins, and technical as well as region-specific expertise.
Align your training to your sales cycles
Financial investment in new technology is essential for any reseller, but it also is time-consuming and unsettling to get to grips with the new equipment. Not only is there a financial burden but it can also be disruptive to the sales cycle and exhaust valuable resources while the team goes through the training process. Spending time to research and identify a training programme that aligns with your sales cycle, that is highly focused and concise, is therefore critical. One where the vendor transfers its expertise in an effective way that is relevant to your specific target markets. This entails a number of elements such as regional staff showcasing examples of real-world deployment of IT infrastructure or monitoring tools, demonstrating the criteria behind the vendor’s proof of value concept, and how to provide a valuable solution that delivers ROI.
Deliver for you customer and they’ll deliver for you
Knowing how to deliver optimal results for customers and how to provide them with tangible ROI represents a significant challenge, and cost, in itself. A well-managed vendor training programme equips the reseller with the ability to confidently offer solution-orientated pre-sales consulting services that will go beyond the customer’s expectations and deliver a return on investment. Even an entry level of training will allow the reseller to perform a proof of concept and clearly go through the installation process.
Furthermore, the knowledge resulting from a training programme can be used to up sell: for instance, a monitoring and analysis product could be offered alongside a storage solution as a tool that complements the existing offer or as an ad hoc service. In doing so, the reseller can significantly boost its capabilities, enhance its product portfolio and increase revenue.
Enhance your product and services portfolio
Being technically proficient with a vendor’s offering can lead to further opportunities to boost revenues. Managed services for example represent one of the most significant revenue stream for many resellers today. A certified vendor training programme will equip a channel company with the knowledge necessary to offer standalone services without requiring support from the vendor and therefore keep 100 per cent of the revenues. A certified reseller will be able to train and support customers across a wide range of technologies, architectures and processes. By following a vendor team as they test, install and run their product or solution, a reseller will learn exactly how to manage the equipment and will then be able to create its own add-on customer support and managed service. For example, this could be a deep dive analysis of the IT infrastructure to test performance, identify bottlenecks and drive optimisation.
On the back of a vendor training programme that addresses the needs of end users, covers the relevant geographical regions and sits well with the sales cycle, a reseller can create and explore new and profitable avenues. More importantly, certified resellers can offer a broader range of products and services which, combined with an unusually deep knowledge of the technology they are selling, will allow these companies to stand out from their competitors.
Nicholas Dimotakis is director, services & presales EMEA at Virtual Instruments.