Adding Value to Wireless VARs

In the communications space there has been accelerating progress these past decades. In the eighties we had IVR, voicemail and unified messaging. In the nineties, we had CTI (TAPI,TSAPI, etc), international callback, the PC-PBX and later the IP-PBX.

This decade we have open source, unified communications, communications as a service, communications enabled business processes and mobility as well as a host of other hot topics.

It seems the more I speak with resellers at conferences, the more I am amazed at how much growth there is still left in this space.

The innovation is not just on the business side of the house. In fact, some could easily argue that consumer telephony has leapfrogged its counterpart in business.

Yes, the world seems to have gone smart-phone crazy and now the initiative in company after company is finding ways to integrate these powerful handheld computing devices into a company’s core communications infrastructure. Of course we don’t want to discriminate so it is worth pointing out that even the intellectually-challenged devices need to connect seamlessly to corporate telecom systems.

For typical resellers, this may present a challenge as you generally haven’t been a mobility expert. Even if you are, there are companies who are looking to help the VAR community better server their end customers.

One is Westcon, a leading specialty distributor in networking, convergence, security and mobility who recently announced MobilityPoint, a program designed to tackle the opportunity I outlined above.

Specifically, the company’s new program delivers resources and capabilities to deliver business value. One important area Westcon is focusing on is sales-enablement or helping resellers position mobility solutions around the desires of the customer.

In other words, where a typical reseller might go to market with a widget and show their potential customers that their widgets is shiny and does lots of things, Westcon helps you understand it is not just about widget selling. Instead, the company takes you through how to show the customer your widget lowers their OPEX and also boosts productivity.

Like I have been saying for years… Resellers need to stop the widget sales and instead focus on value and selling solutions.

The rule of thumb I like to use is one or less acronyms per sentence when selling to customers. They don’t generally care about flavors of SIP and open source vagaries… They want to know how a solution helps them in their business and makes them more successful.

As you might imagine, this new program also focuses on VoWLAN/VoWiFi and they also help a reseller stimulate demand in the market. This last point may be the most important as in a recent conversation with Duncan Potter, Westcon’s CMO we discussed how even the most successful resellers can use assistance in demand generation. A scenario we have both seen over and over is where the reseller is successful selling and then spends a good deal of time installing and servicing their clients.

At this point, the reseller looks up and notices that the sales pipeline is completely dry.

This is exactly why resellers need partners like Westcon because the company does understand reseller challenges and moreover they have devised a variety of programs targeted to help you in their sweet spots which today are networking, convergence, security and mobility.

A big differentiator of MobilityPoint is the manufacturer participants who include Aruba, Cisco, Hitachi Cable, Nokia, Meru, Motorola, Nortel and Trapeze. This is an A list for sure and should give resellers some added level of confidence in exploring the benefits of such a program.

If I have just one hope in the market it is that resellers spend more time learning. In past decades, traditional interconnects were good if they could rapidly pull wire and connect phone systems. Today’s technology reseller has to be a chameleon… They need to know many technologies including the ones outlined above and they need to understand how these technologies integrate with one another. Most importantly, they must listen to customers and help solve their problems.

It is good to see distributors like Westcon putting more skin in the game by partnering with their reseller customers in order to ensure these VARs are better educated and that the end customers are better served.

Remember that the "V" and "A" in "VAR" stand for "Value Added." Today’s resellers are measured not by the wires they hang but by the value they add.

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