For VARs, a business model based on doing only what you did yesterday is a recipe for disaster in an evolving landscape. By adding new partners to their business plan based on sound strategy, VARs can continue to meet new challenges as well as exploit new opportunities that grow the business. In essence, this comes down to achieving these specific goals:
- Significantly improve the way that VARs engage customers
- Align your sales and marketing strategy
- Increase efficiency and predictable sales models
- Decrease the cost of sales
- Increase sales, cross-sell, and upsell opportunities
- Develop a much shorter sales cycle
Integrating the New Partner into Your VAR Ecosystem
The expectations of businesses and IT to have highly integrated solutions rather than just products is a trend that will only increase—and one that VARs must acknowledge in order to survive and thrive. This approach to a VAR business plan for success should be a determining factor in the decision to take on a new partner. VARs must therefore take a multipronged approach to fully integrating the partner and products into th=eir VAR ecosystem.
That would entail everything from creating product groupings that constitute end-to-end solutions across partner product categories to creating these scenarios for product offerings from just the new partner where appropriate. This is where the knowledge of the needs of your clients within the market that you serve comes into play.
Knowledge of client needs is what will determine the complete solution pairings as well as how they are marketed and presented by the VAR to current and potential clients. This will be a cornerstone of the business plan that helps the VAR earn higher ROI.
Develop a Comprehensive Training Approach
A cornerstone of VAR competitiveness is a VAR’s ability to be highly educated on technology and implementation possibilities as well as how those aspects directly affect the VAR’s partner solution offerings. The close tie between education and sales potential is undeniable. This is about first ensuring that you and your staff avail yourselves of all of the product training and certification opportunities that the partner makes available.
As a major part of this training, VARs must determine their approach to certifications that the partner provides and what it entails to achieve them from a time, cost, and benefit standpoint. Because there is a cost and time element attached to all aspects of training, it’s imperative to ensure that this plan coincides with your budget and the specifics of your established market needs.
In addition, your current and potential clients will need educating on the solutions that your new partner provides, so VARs will need to create an external program approach to training. This is about more than just what a solution does and how to use it—it’s also about how to integrate it into specific environments to achieve specific aims.
That’s a broad and ongoing part of training that directly ties into a VAR’s understanding of the needs of its current and potential market clients. As a consequence, this is a piece of the business plan that will be constantly refreshed and updated in order to remain fluent in the emerging uses and system/product compatibility.
Develop Target Market Outreach
While a new partner will have robust marketing and outreach available to the national and international markets on their solutions, this doesn’t necessarily help the VAR’s bottom line in a direct way. That means that VARs must create resources that are directly available and targeted to existing and potential clients.
This should fundamentally include independent websites; business/social networks; blogs; professional groups; and VAR website product and solution knowledge bases with white papers, case studies, technical specification documentation, use cases, and interactive elements, such as a way to answer questions. This should also include blog posts that educate and inform clients about the products and the resources
On a deeper level, VARs are initiating multiple touch points with their customers like targeted sales collateral, newsletters, invitations to webinars, and email campaigns as a way to stay constantly in touch with their customers and continue to strengthen their relationships. Other methods of connecting with clients about a new solution partner is to ensure that all of this is part of proactive outreach via social media, trade shows, and regional/local events that attract clients and potential clients that would need the solution.
In summation, adding a new partner to a VAR business plan is not something that can be undertaken lightly. Of course, for many VARs, the compulsion to keep things the same and only pursue solutions that you know in markets that you know is strong. The reality is that avoiding these and other VAR business plan mistakes by seeking out new partners and integrating them strategically can set the stage for stronger VAR business today and tomorrow.