Resellers who think of their distributors solely as providers of IT equipment may be missing out. Many distributors today are striving to transcend their traditional, procurement-focused businesses, and are offering benefits that reflect their goal of being true business partners. Resellers can get more out of their relationship with their distributors--and ultimately build their own businesses--by taking advantage of benefits that may not be on their radar.
"We are not just about pick, pack, and ship," says John Fago, senior director of channel marketing for North America at Ingram Micro Inc., in Santa Ana, Calif. "We are about helping resellers build out their business and find market opportunities." To that end, Ingram Micro has invested resources into marketing, training, communities, and education.
Ingram Micro is not alone. Other distributors also offer a raft of benefits designed to help resellers thrive. One of the most prevalent benefits has to do with finance and credit. As resellers have been squeezed by the credit crisis, distributors have responded with new benefits.
"We've increased credit lines for all our resellers through a program called Business Assurance," says Jeff Davis, senior vice president of sales at D&H Distributing Co., based in Harrisburg, Pa. D&H has also established PayNet, a Web-based system that allows resellers to shift their payments from credit card or COD to electronic payments, thereby saving on charges and fees.
BENEFITS THAT FIT THE TIMES
While revamped credit is welcome, it is hardly transformative. To enable the shift from supplier to partner, distributors are rolling out sales, marketing, technical support, education, and services initiatives. They are also providing in-depth product and market information. D&H, for example, offers D&H TV, in which technologies and products are showcased in three-minute videos.
Another case in point: the current economic stimulus package that earmarks billions of dollars in IT spending. Ingram Micro and Tech Data Corp., based in Clearwater, Fla., for example, have dedicated resources to help resellers learn about the stimulus package and provide advice about how to go after stimulus-related business.
On the sales and support side, distributors have assembled teams of inside and outside reps who offer expertise on products, vendors, or IT solutions such as managed services. "We have tech solutions engineers who are an extension of our technical support team," says Ingram Micro's Fago. "They can go on-site and help partners develop solutions, engage their end users, and do training."