The recognition by Toshiba of a young, dedicated group who really understand customer service and the industry they serve is a comment on the youth of Australia as much as the performance of a reseller.
This is the view of the usually media shy Shane Taylor, general manager of Applied Micro Systems (AMS). Taylor was discussing his company's recent success after being named Toshiba's 1999 5-Star reseller of the year. While AMS is also a reseller for Compaq, HP and IBM, Taylor said its focus on Toshiba and the vendor's own customer focus was significant this year. And his attitude to working with the vendors goes right across the spectrum.
"We try to work closely with them, all of them, and not spit the dummy," Taylor said. In the case of Toshiba, knowing they have some peculiar idiosyncrasies, it's better to work things through from a point of a close relationship - as you do with families, Taylor said. "If you don't work closely with the vendors, it's difficult to influence them."
It is the second time AMS, which is represented in all mainland capitals, has won the Toshiba gong, and Taylor reported that its customer retention was very good this year with its growth well above its targets.
But while he was keen to recognise what he described as the excellent performance of its youthful sales and account management team, he gave credit to the vendor. "Of all the vendors, Toshiba really knows how to get to the grass roots, to the people who sell their product," he claimed. And according to Taylor, as a reseller with a national exposure, it is significant for AMS that Toshiba is a niche marketer that works in a strong state-based context. "We have to perform well in all states," Taylor said.
In a set of criteria intended to reflect the values of its illustrious 5-Star reseller squadron, Sue McGinley, Toshiba's channel marketing and communications manager, referred to the factors other than sales volume that Toshiba is looking for in all of its channel partners. "These factors are growth, business focus, Pro-Care and customer satisfaction," she said.
McGinley explained that the business focus includes the types of marketing activity undertaken by resellers to retain major customers and attract new business, and these are observed by the respective regional managers. Customer satisfaction is measured by an annual survey of the resellers' own customers, a contentious point that AMS' Taylor raised. "We don't mind working with them on that, as long as we get the customer feedback," he said. "Overall, the components of the Target Busters program is designed to gain as much mind-share with the [channel] sales force as possible," McGinley said.
And among the 5-Stars, the biggest do not necessarily dominate. Of the top 10 ranked resellers, only three are national. As Taylor observed about the recent Toshiba award presentations in Fiji, "It is the young dedicated professionals in the channel that are leading the way in almost every way."
Toshiba's channel champions
Toshiba distributor of the year - Computer Hardware of Australia (CHA)Toshiba 5-Star reseller of the year - Applied Micro SystemsRegional 5-Star reseller award winnersNSW The Portable Computer System CompanyVIC ComputelecQLD Sunrise Computer SystemsACT ComputerquestNZ The Laptop CompanySA LodinWA PT Computer ProfessionalsRegional Sales Achiever awardsWA Sandra Brnjich of CHA.
ACT Denis Riley of Computerquest
NZ Paul Hunt of The Laptop Company
NSW Terry Cleary of The Portable Computer System Company & Julie Woods of Laptop LandVIC Amelia MacCleod of ComputelecSA Brad Lewis of GBMQLD Shannon Dowden of Danka IT