A year of sharpening its SMB reseller focus has seen Tech Pacific more than double its number of active resellers in that space and treble the number of products leaving its warehouses every day.
Tech Pac sales director, John Walters, said the distributor had increased its SMB revenues by 30 per cent since launching the campaign in June last year.
Active reseller numbers — those buying products regularly on a monthly basis — had reached 6500 and product orders had ballooned to 18,000 per day.
In order to achieve these numbers, Tech Pac staff had visited about 75 regional areas — sometimes in conjunction with vendor partners but often independently waving its own flag — in formats ranging from product road shows to relaxed meet and greets with local resellers.
“We didn’t go out and promise a lot,” Walters said. “It was more a case of telling them we would deliver on certain key things — understanding regional resellers better, and giving them better account management and service.
“There’s always room for improvement but measuring the numbers so far shows we have come a long way towards achieving our goals.”
In October last year, the broad-based distributor had an independent survey conducted among 250 of its regional resellers by Delta Outlooks.
Walters claimed this showed overall satisfaction levels had improved by 18 per cent.
He highlighted telephone sales, its partner website and online credit card ordering for cash accounts as areas of greatest improvement that had made Tech Pacific an easier company for smaller resellers to deal with.
Prior to Kerry Baillie’s appointment as managing director at the beginning of 2002, Walters said previous management had encouraged Tech Pac staff to concentrate on metropolitan areas and larger customers because building relationships with smaller resellers off the beaten track was thought to be too expensive and time consuming. But that had now changed and Baillie himself had accompanied Walters on a fact-finding mission to Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange in March 2003.
“The only way to find out what they really want is to go out and meet them,” he said. “A defining moment for me was a reseller get together in Bathurst. It’s only at 10pm in places like the Knickerbocker Hotel when you really pick up the important stuff.”
While the growth had not seen Tech Pac adding significant numbers of staff, Walters said there had been some internal reshuffling to get more employees into operations. This had been necessary to handle the drastic increase in product that was going out of the door. It had also appointed Richard McIntosh as an account manager for central west NSW — the first time the distributor had named an account manager for a non-metropolitan area.
“Trying to become more accessible to our whole customer base has changed the systems and procedures at Tech Pac,” Walters said.
“We still have a way to go because we’re a big company but the progress so far suggests we must be doing something right.”
Tech Pac is far from being alone in preaching that small is beautiful, with most major vendors and its larger competitors expressing a desire to win the hearts and minds of potential SMB customers.
“People have realised there are 50 key systems integrators and value-added resellers doing a chunk of the business [across Australia] but we have now built a base of 6500 that are selling on a monthly basis,” he said. “When you have the ability to touch that many resellers it adds up to a significant opportunity.
“What do our major vendors want from us? They have direct accounts and tier-one resellers doing big business — they want a distributor to touch the regional market.”
Walters said that the increased focus on capturing regional SMB business was pitching Tech Pac into direct competition with many niche distributors that were, in turn, its customers.
While this had not been a direct aim of the initiative, he was unapologetic.
“Our aim is not to drive the local sub-distributors out of business but simply to make our infrastructure and account managers more accessible,” he said.
“We are providing choice and the companies that win will be those providing the best relationship and service. Our key advantage is breadth of product and vendor range.”