By Darren Gottesmann, SMB Sales Director, Ingram Micro
As someone who’s been working with small businesses for many years, I know it can be overwhelming— especially in the IT channel—to get it all done. Solution providers and MSPs wear many hats, and that complicates growth. Sure, it speeds up the decision-making process, but it also can radically limit scale. However, if there’s one piece of advice I can offer to channel partners, it’s this: Many are working harder than they have to because they either don’t know about, or haven't explored, services and offerings that are easily available to them.
The fact is, the more successful the channel partner, the stronger their network of peers, influencers, alliances and partners. Here are seven examples of how partnership with peers, manufacturers and distributors helps you grow faster than you can do it on your own:
The old adage “It takes money to make money” still holds true, and sadly, some smaller channel companies turn away large projects because they don’t have enough credit to accommodate the waiting period between when a large technology purchase is made and when payment is received. Last year one of Ingram Micro's channel partners, a start-up company, decided that it didn’t want to pass up on a $7 million contract, and we agreed that they shouldn’t have to. Through our Select Source financing, we were able to increase the partner's credit from $25,000 to $250,000 and help them win the project.
2. Cloud Service Offerings
IT is moving to the cloud at an ever-increasing clip, and partners who wait for things to calm down before they get involved will be at a serious disadvantage. Ingram Micro works with the leading best-of-breed cloud vendors, and we’ve created a Cloud Marketplace where partners can procure, provision, and bundle cloud solutions. Additionally, the Cloud Marketplace lets partners provide a single monthly invoice and manage all cloud services from a single portal. One of our partners shared with us recently that he finally “gets” the value of the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. After provisioning his first cloud service (Microsoft Office 365), he understands the difference between this model and the direct/advisor model, and he realizes how easy it is to take on the operational process with subscription management, billing and the ability to bundle other services.
Many channel partners wear multiple hats, ranging from business owner to janitor, but the one that’s most often neglected is the marketing hat. Ingram Micro understands that many channel partners can’t afford to hire a marketing team, so we offer free and low-cost marketing services that can help you market your business, organize your website, develop your go-to-market pitch, and provide you with the necessary tools and information to step-up your marketing activities and help drive more sales.
4. Professional Services
Sometimes channel partners just don’t have the bandwidth and/or talent in house to get the job done and need help to get to the goal. One of our partners, a small two-man shop in Michigan, found itself in a difficult situation when one of the co-owners experienced serious health issues that prevented him from working for an extended period. Through his SMB sales rep, the partner was put in touch with an Ingram Micro subject matter expert who helped find qualified temporary IT candidates in the partner’s area. Within seven weeks, the channel partner was so pleased with the temp’s performance he hired the temp and became a three-man shop.
5. Vertical Markets
One of the best ways channel companies can find new revenue streams is by selling into new vertical markets such as education, finance and healthcare. While verticals offer numerous business opportunities, it can be daunting to learn the business and technology needs as well as the industry regulations of a new market. Luckily, Ingram Micro has a vast array of vertical market experts and resources available to our partners. Interested in selling IT solutions and services to the K-12 education market? Request our free “State of the K-12 Market” guide to find out the biggest opportunities in this market. Additionally, learn about school administrators' priorities, so that you can position your offering accordingly and work with our K-12 SMEs to find out which industry associations and certifications really matter.
6. Consulting from The 2112 Group
Led by CEO and Chief Analyst Larry Walsh, The 2112 Group, a professional services firm specializing in business strategy and enablement for channel companies, works with Ingram Micro’s SMB solution providers to assess and evaluate their customers and identify buying patterns. “We recently worked with an Ingram Micro solution provider who was basically casting a wide net to find potential customers,” says Walsh. “Through an assessment and mapping exercise, 2112 was able to identify natural groupings of customers and purchasing trends, and associate those trends with product packaging. From here, we advised the solution provider on how to create marketing and communications that addressed specific needs by customer type. The result is a sales program that is more targeted and effective in leveraging existing customers to uncover better sales leads with higher yields at lower costs of acquisition.”
7. IT Asset Disposal and CloudBlue
Sometimes disposing of a customer’s old computers and servers can be as challenging as selling new equipment. Other times offering to “buy back” the old gear or earn credits toward the purchase of the customer’s new gear can help you close the deal. Either way, proper IT asset disposal is a big and growing business for channel partners and Ingram Micro. CloudBlue, an Ingram Micro company, and a leading provider of enterprise IT asset disposition, onsite data destruction, and e-waste recycling services, is here to help and have a positive difference on your business, as well as your client’s business and the environment overall.
For example, last year, one of our solution-provider customers was competing with several other solution providers for a 3,000-desktop-system refresh for a large healthcare services provider. With the assistance of our CloudBlue service, our partner received a $55,000 credit for the retired equipment, which it was then able to pass along to the customer to be used toward the purchase of new equipment. As a result, the partner was able to provide a complete solution to its customer at a price point none of its competitors could touch.
Events like the upcoming Fall Ingram Micro ONE event, scheduled for Nov. 11-16 in Nashville, Tenn., are a great opportunity to get updated on the latest technology and business trends facing your company. But don’t rely on events alone to keep you connected and well resourced. Ask around to see and hear what’s working for your peers, and be sure to take advantage of free and low-cost services such as those mentioned above—it's another way you can increase your sales and even more importantly, your profitability.
If you’re not able to join us in Nashville for the Fall Ingram Micro ONE event, follow us on Twitter at @IngramMicroONE and event hashtag #IngramONE.