Harnessing the technical expertise of your distributor

Resellers that bring in technology specialists to assess the size and scope of a potential new customer implementation, have a better understanding when to take the business forward or when to simply walk away.

February 19, 2013

Resellers that bring in technology specialists to assess the size and scope of a potential new customer implementation, have a better understanding when to take the business forward or when to simply walk away.

By Carina Prinsloo, Service Manager at Drive Control Corporation (DCC)

As a reseller, implementing a complex Information Technology (IT) solution successfully at a new customer site paves the way for better cash flow, word-of-mouth referrals and favourable site references. However, for many resellers this is not without blood, sweat and tears.

This is largely due to the fact that the devil is truly in the detail with every large-scale implementation. Most technology infrastructures in companies today are complex eco-systems of legacy computer systems, faxes, printers, coupled with some new laptops and smart devices, all patched together and it somehow works. For many implementation partners or resellers, this makes their job just that much harder. With ailing customer networks, resellers can only be assured of one thing: nothing is ever as it seems.

External Expertise Required
Therein lies the problem. Most resellers offer a wide product and service portfolio making it almost impossible to up skill their staff in all areas. Juggling the plethora of products and technology and getting to grips with each and every one of them in order to match the appropriate solution with the clients’ needs is a challenge to say the least.

Resellers are also typically low on scarce technical resources and most don’t have high level expertise in-house to draw knowledge from within their organisation. And even if they do, they usually are not experts on every piece of niche technology that they sell.

The fact remains that having the certification and technical skills across a wide product offering is often impossible, especially for smaller resellers that do not have the resources or time to allocate training of their resources. Additionally, the lack of these skills and the challenge associated with obtaining certification means support and maintenance cannot be offered to the end customer. This is a significant dilemma facing resellers considering that this is where the profitability lies for the reseller business.

Without a deep understanding of the customers’ requirements and infrastructure topology, a wrong solution could be deployed, affecting key implementation time frames as well as customer downtime. Ironically, it’s only when the resellers get to this stage that they realise the value of site assessments and solution designs.

Thorough Site Inspections
For a relatively large implementation to be successful resellers must perform a site inspection. A critical business plan has to be mapped out with targets of implementation, post-implementation and support. Responsibilities must be assigned to both the reseller and the customer throughout the implementation process, and must be reviewed and adjusted if required.

On the technology front, current enterprise issues must first be mapped out and considered to ensure a successful timeous installation without loss of productivity, disruption of backups or breaches of network security.

Importantly, communication between the reseller and staff is critical for the project to be successful. There must be buy-in from management, technical staff and general staff that will be a point of contact when the project goes live, for example.

A Unified Front
Working together with a distributor that offers the necessary technical support and product certified resources, resellers are able to do extensive preparation with the help of a team of product specialists. These specialists are knowledgeable on common ‘trouble’ areas, as well as new features and functionality that can be deployed. This also involves on-site workshops, information gathering sessions, solution design, site assessments, as well as a detailed report before the project goes ahead.

The distributor then supplies the reseller with a blueprint document on how the implementation will proceed and by helping the reseller in this crucial stage of negotiations the distributor wins as well, knowing that the new technology can be professionally supported.

In closing, some customer implementations are too complex and warrant careful planning and execution. Getting in extra help is a small price to pay if resellers consider that every implementation is a critical step in forging profitable business relationships of the future.

For more information, visit www.drivecon.net.