Alternative Technology's Bill Botti: Bringing the Boutique to the MassesBy Pedro Pereira | Print
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By selling specialty distributor Alternative Technology to Arrow Electronics, Bill Botti created the potential of taking high-profit, high-end technology to a wider market.Bill Botti has always taken distributor Alternative Technology's name to heart. Since he took over as president seven years ago, Botti has come up with a number of creative ways to offer a distribution alternative to solution providers.
For starters, Englewood, Colo., company carries a limited product line card, meticulously chosen with an eye to maximize solution provider profits and introduce higher-end and leading-edge security and networking technologies to the channel. To back this approach, Botti has built a solid and innovative technical and support infrastructure for Alternative's solution providers.
Now Botti has an opportunity to take this approach to a wider audience. In October, Arrow Electronics, an $11 billion distributor in Melville, N.Y., agreed to acquire Alternative, which Botti said is on track to top $300 million in revenue this year.
"We really like the way they allow us to continue to be creative," he said, adding that Alternative will continue to operate as an independent entity.
Alternative can continue to wrap its business around a consultative sales approach through such programs as a voucher system that promotes the introduction of new technologies to the providers. VARs and integrators accumulate the vouchers with each purchase from the distributor and redeem them for other purchases, technology training, consulting, demo equipment or market development activities.
Rather than pushing product, Botti, himself a former VAR, figured early on that the company would produce better results by working with the solution provider to first understand the customer's needs and then sell the technology to fulfill them. Tapping its highly technical support staff, the company helps steer VARs when deploying customer solutions, some of which are fairly complex.
"We start by learning about their business. It's a consultative selling, and most distributors don't do that," said Botti.
Botti credits the ideas that have allowed Alternative to stand out from the crowd to his background as a solution provider.
"I know how their business works. I know the key elements that they're looking at," he said.