Magazine Article | May 21, 2012

Three Pain Points Small VARs Can Fix Now

By Jay McCall, networking and managed services Editor, Business Solutions magazine

The latest Gartner research shows that SMBs worldwide spent $860 billion in 2011, and that spending is expected to surpass the $1 trillion mark by 2014. It’s no surprise why a VAR would focus on this market. Yet, the reality is that many VARs focused on the SMB market are themselves SMBs that have to address their own business struggles before they can effectively help their customers. While attending Ingram Micro’s SMB Alliance (SMBA) event last month, I discovered three business pain points SMB VARs struggle with the most:

  1. Vendor Management — Many small VARs see the value of working with tier one vendors. But, when they need to get a technical question answered from the vendor for themselves or a customer, they find it next to impossible to get the right person on the phone. Many VARs also struggle to keep up with special offers and promos from their vendors. Ronnie Parisella, director of business development at Power Consulting, shared a real example with me. “I quoted my customer a price based on what I saw at my vendor’s site that day, but when I placed the order a few days later the cost was 50% higher because I had unknowingly missed a special sale deadline,” he says.
  2. Marketing — Galen Lambert, CEO of Computer Solutions Inc., admitted to me he’s never spent a dime on marketing in his 25 years in business. Like so many small businesses, he sees the value in marketing, but after simultaneously fulfilling the roles of owner, engineer, salesperson, and janitor, he just doesn’t have the knowledge, skills, or time to create marketing collateral and put together an effective advertising campaign.
  3. Available Resource Awareness — During one of the breakout sessions I attended, the Ingram Micro presenter talked about a personalized drop-shipping feature the distributor offers, whereby a VAR can include its company name, branding, and personalized messaging on a drop shipment to its customer. The presenter asked how many in the audience were aware of this service. Out of 100 attendees, only one or two hands went up.

In the same session, the presenter talked about a training academy that is available to help resellers keep up to date with their certifications. He then asked whether the audience was already aware of this. Again, just a few hands went up. The speaker talked about several other services, including marketing assistance, vendor management, and IT integration services and even then only about half of the attendees indicated they already knew about these services.

Your distributor is one possible resource to help with the above business challenges. But, even if you don’t buy through a distributor, you should be looking at industry associations and/or peer groups (e.g. ASCII, CompTIA, HTG, RSPA) for business advice and assistance. Help is available. The more you get plugged into your industry and play an active role in finding out what’s out there, the more likely you’ll be to find the assistance you need.