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In a tight economy when your customers’ IT budgets are shrinking,
and you are competing for those fewer dollars against the giants in the
industry, how is it possible to gain an edge?

Fujitsu has found one way – a try-before-you-buy program that
places evaluation units of the company’s storage technology, SAN and
NAS solutions, at the customer site. The program enables the customers
to rest assured that the solution is what they want before they agree
to buy it.

"It’s really helped our VARs improve their close rates and also
improved the time to close the deal," says Matt McManus, channel chief
at Fujitsu, who adds that the close rate is about 80 percent. "We are
hearing end-user customers questioning total cost of ownership.
Offering these evaluation units has been a unique differentiator for

To prove TCO, Fujitsu partners can put the evaluation units at the customer site for up to 30 days.
McManus says that Fujitsu’s larger competitors in the storage market
won’t do that for their partners, particularly on deals of less than
$20,000 or $15,000. 

"We’ve got roughly 150 storage partners out there," McManus says. "It’s
not like we have 20,000 VARs out there trying to get evaluation units.
Plus, VARs make more profit on our products than they do on our
competitive products. If it’s not a super tight deal they are getting
double digit margins."

The move to offer the evaluation units is just one of the tactics
Fujitsu, a maker of storage solutions and mobile computing products, is
employing during this recessionary year. Fujitsu is also participating
in Tech Data’s offer through GE Capital, offering 60 day floor planning
credit to its channel partners.

In addition, Fujitsu is aiming to make it easier for partners to do
business with the company by combining three of the portals that its
channel partners must use into a single portal. Now partners can
configure products, get training and training material, and get Fujitsu
marketing all in one place online.

Fujitsu has also rolled out its first online market development funds
(MDF) tool, a big improvement from the previous process of faxing
marketing planners and then sending back proof of performance. McManus
says the tool is expected to improve the efficiency and time management
of VARs.

Fujitsu is also launching a serious lead generation program for
storage, stratifying leads into "A" leads – those interested in
purchasing in 30 days and who have a budget, and "B" leads.

Finally, Fujitsu has seen some success in focusing on particular verticals, including health care and education.

"Our health care business has grown 20 percent year over year," says
McManus. "We are looking at the new stimulus package. There’s about $20
billion available for health care and electronic records. We will be
looking at that and providing training to our VARs on how to write the
proposals to get the grants."