Becoming All Things to All VARs

By Chris Gonsalves  |  Print this article Print

Riding a wave of growing revenues and renewed confidence among customers, Tech Data's Bob Dutkowsky tells Channel Insider he'll use the distributor's credit clout, a growing roster of VAR services, and continued global expansion to maintain momentum.

Q. Your folks are here trumpeting a fairly broad set of services, from traditional pack and ship, to business management tools, marketing and advertising assistance and financing. How well are you doing in the effort to offer channel-sales assistance that’s broad enough to allow a VAR to say, 'Tech Data has what I need, I don’t need to shop around and pick and choose a la carte services anymore’?

BD: Well, that would be nirvana for us. For both us and our customers, really. The typical VAR doesn’t have the infrastructure to manage relationships with 400 vendors. So they turn to distribution to manage that for them. In a lot of cases they don’t even really have adequate resources to effectively deal with multiple distributors. Now the reality among distributors is that we’re all going to be in play, mostly because VARs need our credit capacity. They need credit from us and the other guys in order to grow their business. So they’ll have a relationship with all of us. But if we can be the one that they call first, that’s our vision. When a VAR talks to an end user and there’s a market opportunity, and they are unsure what the product is or uncertain how to configure it or uncertain what to clothe it with or connect it to, we want to be the first one they call.

We’re focused on achieving that among a group like our TechSelect VARs -- 400 of our best customers-- I think for most of them they call us first and they rely on us as their partner.

Q: What are some examples of the tasks VARs can offload effectively with Tech Data? For instance many are struggling is to get their message in the form of sales and marketing materials, to end users. Can Tech Data help there?

BD: Sure. We have an organization called TD Agency that VARs are using to contract their marketing outreach to us. We produce end product that has their name and their logo, it doesn’t say Tech Data on it. I think as time goes on, specialization will rule the day and most VARs will outsource that function to us they same way they currently outsource logistics.

And there are other functions they can outsource to us. Configuration capabilities for example. Today they take the box, they break it open, they put in more memory and then they ship it. We could do that for them better, faster, cheaper. We

We have MyOpportunityTracker where we’re doing lead and demand generation for them. Sure, they could grind through all that data themselves, but it’s so much easier to leave it to us.

Q: Are there other efforts afoot to drill down into the vast amount of data Tech Data has on its partners and their deals and mine it.

BD: Definitely, I just had a conversation with Apple this morning. They know that they are becoming mainstream in business, Yes, they’ve got their 200 designated Apple resellers, but now they are trying to get out beyond that. They want access to our business-based VARs, which is what this TechSelect community is all about. Apple isn’t looking for people who want to put up a website and sell iPods. They are looking for people who can sell to those folks who are saying, 'Hey I use an iMac at home and I like it. Why can’t I use it at work?’

We can’t just go out to our 70,000 resellers, and just say 'why don’t you all now sell Macs?’ That’s just not going to work. So we talked to Apple specifically and said let’s get together and figure out what we can mine from our database that would say customers that bought this, this, and this are probably more receptive to selling Macs. And we put that list together and started at 1,000 resellers.

That’s the power and the focus our data brings to the market. We’re about matching VARs with opportunities. That focus increases the chances for success all around.


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