Dell and Distribution: A Good ThingBy Kathleen A. Martin | Posted 2009-04-03 Email Print
For years, Dell shunned distribution almost as much as solution providers in the channel. Solution providers are welcoming Dell's acceptance of distribution, saying it will increase competition and give them more options.
Just two weeks ago, Dell surprised many with its announcement to sell products through distribution. Immediately, channel message boards were filled with discussions on how this would affect sales or what this would mean for key competitors.
While vendors and analysts alike shared their expert opinions on whether or not this was a good thing, I decided to talk to the businesses owners who now had a new option at distribution. "This is a good thing," said one partner. "While I cannot go on the record, I can tell you that any time we increase competition and add some change, we all win."
Very few partners were willing to go on the record, but many were willing to share their secrets for winning with Dell in distribution.
Competition from Dell is good.
"The manufacturers may say that nothing is going to change, but they are worried. This increases our position with them as they work harder to keep their products in front of us." Learn to leverage your manufacturer's sales representatives. If you have a Dell product in mind, check the competition to look for the best price for you and your customer.
Dell wait time is reduced through distribution.
Products that used to take weeks to arrive from Dell can now be shipped much faster through distribution. "We used to have these awful wait times, and time is money to us. We need the product at our customer location to begin the installation."
Credit is available.
Both Ingram Micro and Tech Data have credit lines available for solution providers. If you do not have a credit line with Dell, now is a great time to take advantage of the financing terms available through your distribution team.
Increase your special bids.
"Having Dell at distribution helps us all. We can shop more prices. The No. 1 competitor for us and Dell is HP, and they are always selling up to 10 points below any price we get just to take the account direct. That can change now that we can use incentives from distribution and Dell." Don’t be afraid to work with your distribution and manufacturing representatives at the same time. Oftentimes, a distribution representative has a direct line to the manufacturer and can assist with special bids over the phone. At the same time, you still have the option to work directly with your Dell representative and allow them the opportunity to win your business.
Gartner may be predicting a steep decline in PC sales, but the federal government is going to be opening new lines of funding for local and state governments, education, and health care. Dell has played well in all of these areas with products and programs focusing on these verticals. Now might be the time for your business to work with Dell and distribution for increased revenue and profits.
Kathleen A. Martin is special projects coordinator for Channel Insider.