Guest Column | April 14, 2009

Q&A: Motorola's Janet Schijns Points VARs To The Money


Written by: Janet Schijns, VP of ww channels, distribution, and alliances for Motorola's Ent. Mobility

Is there a vertical market that VARs should be targeting in 2009?
Motorola predicts tremendous opportunity in field mobility solutions that run across the majority of the enterprise industry segments including manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and healthcare. Top applications for these industries include direct store delivery, enterprise asset management and maintenance, sales force automation, and field service.

Field mobility solutions focus on mobile computing, with roughly a third of this year’s $2.4 billion Total Available Market (TAM) for rugged handhelds and rugged PDAs projected to be deployed in a Field Mobility environment. Field service presents the largest opportunity, followed by direct store delivery and sales force automation.

In addition to the traditional rugged mobile computing competitors, laptop deployments are showing up in field service solutions and consumer PDAs and smart phones are showing up within sales force automation/field sales. VAR’s should continue to emphasize the need for ergonomics and a rugged form factor in a demanding “on the move” environment, where WAN connectivity and worker productivity are closely aligned.

What specialized knowledge or skills are needed to be successful in this vertical market?
In order to be successful selling any field mobility solution a VAR needs to be able to identify the return on investment metrics and also the total cost of ownership considerations when a customer is considering a field deployment. Motorola partners may wish to visit the video success story library to see how Motorola was able to help Danka with a field service success story and see how they can duplicate this effort in their go to market strategy:

Apart from increasing sales, what can VARs do to improve the health of their business in 2009?
There are three things that VARs can do to improve the health of their business in 2009. These are:
  1. Expenses Diet: Each VAR should look at all expenses and evaluate how necessary they truly are to the business. Companies should be open and honest in communicating this to employees and clients as it further validates ones professionalism in running in tough times.
  2. Talent Upgrading: Each VAR should carefully inventory and evaluate their talent. In the past good people were hard to find and the supply was limited, as a result some VARs settled for less talented team members and this is negatively impacting their business today. Additionally some of the skills we need now (web 2.0, social networking, selling complex solutions) were not talents recruited for in past years. 2009 represents a unique opportunity to obtain top-grade talent. There is a supply of talented people available with the skills VAR’s need for the future.
  3. Cash Management: More than ever cash is king. Most VARs can find ways to better their cash management. VARs should work with their distributors, customers and all suppliers to see how they can manage terms, collections and payables.
Longer term outlook: what can VARs be doing now to be best positioned once the economy turns around?
VARs should be investing in areas where they can grow the business and divesting in areas where they don’t see as much growth. An example is marketing. In the past, VARs spent considerable funds on product-centric marketing, specifically their websites. VARs should invest today in marketing one’s new value proposition (solutions focused) and ensuring that they are being seen as a solution resource online. If a VAR’s current website shows product only content, but they are investing in solutions keywords purchases, they will not retain people who visit their site and convert them to prospects. Have a professional (Motorola’s PartnerSelect members have this benefit available to them in our program) evaluate one’s web strategy, spend and the leads being received. Motorola has found many VARs who invested in the wrong areas in this regards and therefore had wasted funds that could have been better purposed.

People and businesses react differently to the economy? Are there any actions VARs should avoid in reaction to the economy?
I believe that people and businesses should react based on their value proposition to the market. If your firm has always been strong promotionally, now is not the time to cut sales or marketing budgets. Conversely, if you have always competed based on product innovation you would not want to cut product development budgets. I’d caution VARs to look closely at what differentiates them to their profitable customers and avoid cutting any expenses that are justified in that area.

Additionally I’d caution VARS to stop selling to customers who don’t provide them with acceptable profit levels. Too often we equate volume with results and that is simply not the case; better to do less volume at a higher profit than to pursue greater volume at a lower profit. Carefully consider who you sell to, what you make, and what customers you truly need to disengage with to remain profitable. In other words don’t invest in the customers who are not investing in you!

Your VAR partners thought highly enough of Motorola to earn you the distinction of one of the Best Channel Vendors of 2009. What aspect of your channel program do you feel your partners underutilize?
Motorola has many great benefits in PartnerSelect that benefit our partners. One area I’d point to for VARs to utilize more often in their businesses are the marketing and demand generation tools that are available for our solutions via our Partner Hallway online. The primary goal of Motorola’s Partner Hallway is to provide an overview of current features, direct partners to other website sections, provide a highlight of current events and promote new products. Tools such as PartnerWizard allow customizable marketing materials are available for use by Motorola’s partners that can help them particularly in this difficult economy to increase demand for their business.