What catapults some channel pros to the top of the growth chart? Last year, at its SMB Invitational, Ingram Micro Inc. started down the path of discovery with a ranking of its top-500 SMB partners, chosen from the distributor's more than 20,000 SMB partners, based on year-over-year growth. What Ingram Micro hoped to find along the way is the "secret sauce" that makes some VARs and MSPs leapfrog their competition in revenue.
Fast forward to the 2013 Fall SMB Invitational in Glendale, Ariz., held September 23 to 25, and the distributor is a little closer to finding out. In a conversation with ChannelPro-SMB, Ingram Micro executive John Fago talked about the second annual partner rankings as well as Ingram's partnership with Larry Walsh, president and CEO of research and consulting firm The 2112 Group, who looks beyond the hard data and, through personal interviews and focus groups, helps draw a sharper picture of what makes some partners successful.
According to Fago, senior director of channel marketing, "The SMB 500 is giving us the right information to identify the trends, key characteristics, and attributes that are driving success among these partners."
So what is the secret? "We're still figuring some of that out based on the analysis we're doing on the list," says Fago. But, he notes, "We're seeing more engagement, customers attending more events. We're seeing customers that have migrated more to a services model and those that are investing in marketing." Success in vertical markets is another factor, says Fago, mentioning construction, healthcare, finance, and education.
He stresses, however, that more information is needed to provide a more complete view, which should emerge after Walsh speaks directly with the partners to find out what they are doing, specifically, to drive success within their organizations.
Another contribution from Walsh and his team is a growth calculator that is available to Ingram's entire SMB Alliance partner community. "It gives the customers the opportunity to enter their growth aspirations and what their plan looks like-staffing, markets they're selling into, solutions they're selling-and compare it relative to the overall market," says Fago. The calculator then identifies the things partners should focus on to accelerate their growth.
When asked what Fago expects from this year to next when the third annual SMB 500 is announced, he does not hesitate: "I would like to see higher growth rates among the third annual list that we announce next year, and even more customers that were in the running." Ladies and gentlemen, grab your calculators.