IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

D&H Hits Sweet Spot with Consultations at Hershey, Pa., Show

The distributor attracted over 1,000 attendees to its Mid-Atlantic Summer Technology Trade Show with a strong vendor presence and many one-on-one consultations with partners. By Geoffrey Oldmixon
Reader ROI: 
D&H has added a higher-level, customer-intimate engagement called the "VAR Track."

Nearly 1,000 channelpros descended on Hershey, Pa., this week, looking for a sweet deal and a few nuggets of information.

Harrisburg, Pa.-based IT and consumer electronics distributor D&H Distributing Co. held its Mid-Atlantic Summer Technology Trade Show on Tuesday, June 21, at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center. More than 100 vendors demonstrated products, and D&H offered a number of key buys for channel partners.

What really differentiated this buying show from others in the channel, however, is the level of one-on-one consulting available to resellers. “I look at this show as the strongest inflection point in the new generation of shows that you’ll see from D&H in the next decade,” says D&H Co-President Michael Schwab. “We have taken the best aspects of past shows and added a higher-level, customer-intimate engagement we call the ‘VAR track.’”

Consultations on the VAR Track
According to D&H Vice President of VAR Sales Peter DiMarco, this year’s Summer Technology Trade Show offered “five times the number of one-on-ones with VARS and business-building sessions.”

Essentially, DiMarco explains, there were three categories of partners being addressed on individual levels:

  1. BUYING—DiMarco says D&H sought to offer access to vendors and products to attendees who might be saying, “I’m not covered by our vendor partners today. I’m having trouble getting coverage from other disties. So, I come to Hershey where I can get that.”
  2. BUSINESS PLANS—These are VARs who might say, “I have a business plan, but I need a deeper blueprint,” says DiMarco, adding, “We offered a day-and-a-half session for higher-level plans, including marketing and sales, to empower the reseller.”
  3. SOLUTIONS—D&H sought to pair solutions and vendors with partners. “What’s unique about D&H,” DiMarco says, “is that every customer gets a dedicated representative. We train them on all the various vendor programs that are out there.” In addition, he adds, D&H offers pre-sale solutions support, which covers “all the technical requirements that the reseller needs to solve a problem. We do the checks. We provide the bill of materials. They take that information and incorporate it into their quote.”

“And there’s a cadence of follow-up,” Schwab points out, “a continuance of interactions. We want to make sure our VARs have that affinity and alignment with D&H."

VAR Feedback and Input
Attendees weren’t the only ones learning new things at D&H’s Mid-Atlantic Summer Technology Trade Show. The distributor itself took away a few tasty morsels of information: D&H VAR partners let the distributor know that broader offerings were still desired.

“We think we have best-in-class technologies,” says Schwab,” but there’s probably another level. Additional software solutions, POS devices, scanners, RFID readers—there are probably other components we can include in the solutions we help them identify.” He adds, “There are also third-party tools that help with migration from on-premises to cloud and migration tools for Office 365 that we could offer.”

DiMarco added a few other potential areas in which VARs can grow sales: “Technologies relating to corporate and education—smart displays, storage, software that enables hybrid on- and off-premises.” He adds, “As our VARs advance, the request for products or solutions advance as well.”

About the Author

Geoffrey Oldmixon is a freelance writer based in Western Massachusetts.

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