Tech Data is staffing up in support of its ongoing campaign to help partners transition successfully to a new era of computing dominated by cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and other “next-generation” technologies.
“We are doing everything in our power to spend more time with the customer to understand what their business need is and then try to solve for it,” says Marc McClure, the distributor’s senior vice president of commercial sales. McClure spoke with ChannelPro last week during the spring meeting of Tech Data’s TechSelect partner community, which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary.
“We’re investing in field coverage models,” he says, adding that he plans to grow his team of account executives, technical specialists, and other partner-facing resources by about 10 to 15 percent.
McClure has been responsible for all of Tech Data’s partner management, vendor management, and product marketing efforts in the U.S. since November, when the company consolidated its entire North American sales organization within a single reporting structure under Senior Vice President for North American Sales Marty Bauerlein.
Some of the new resources McClure is hiring will support Tech Data’s Practice Builder program. As ChannelPro has reported previously, Practice Builder helps traditional hardware and software resellers become service and solution providers in areas like cloud computing and security. At present, about 20 to 25 partners complete the in-depth process, which includes a face-to-face component, each quarter. “We need to get more throughput in that program, so resources are coming quarter in and quarter out,” McClure says.
Tech Data’s endpoint solutions group is providing similar consulting advice to partners. As speakers at the company’s Endpoint Symposium event emphasized last month, Tech Data believes partners can make big money selling solutions that combine conference room devices, digital signage displays, virtual reality headsets, and other hardware with accompanying software and services. A new endpoint solutions advisory program delivered through an unnamed third-party consultancy assists partners in fine-tune their messaging, product bundles, and sales pitches for such offerings.
“It’s about making sure that we’re not only allowing our customers to drive more demand into their end customers but to stay sticky with those customers all throughout the lifecycle,” says Director of Endpoint Solutions Kristi Kirby. “It’s a pretty hands-on approach.”
Tech Data’s cloud solutions group, meanwhile, has rolled out free access to in-house “coaches” with deep knowledge of topics like demand generation, pricing, and salesforce compensation models. “We’ve got a lot of people across our organization with some very deep expertise,” says Stacy Nethercoat, vice president of cloud solutions for the Americas at Tech Data. Available only to resellers at present, the program may be offered to vendors soon as well, she continues.
According to Nethercoat, Tech Data’s Cloud Solutions Factory is also helping partners launch cloud businesses. Introduced in February, the program offers comprehensive, “click-to-run” solutions equipped with pre-validated combinations of licensing, services, and more. “We’re seeing, across the globe, double-digit adoption,” Nethercoat says. Tech Data added a similar factory for analytics and Internet of Things solutions last week.
Offerings like those, McClure notes, are one reason Tech Data’s SMB business is growing so sharply at present. SMB-related revenue climbed more than 23 percent in the company’s 2018 fiscal year, versus roughly six percent in its enterprise and mid-market segments. According to McClure, everything from endpoints to networking products to online services is contributing to those results.
“It’s not just one area,” he says. Extending that momentum is one of Tech Data’s top priorities, he adds. “SMB is where the growth is going to come from. That’s where the engine is,” McClure states.
As a result, he continues, Tech Data will continue building what Bauerlein often refers to as the “ultimate coverage model.” Even the smallest channel pros will have access to those increased resources, according to McClure, provided they’re serious about joining Tech Data in its shift toward next-generation technologies.
“The size of a partner makes no difference to me,” McClure says. “There is no such thing as too small.”