As a channel consultant, I meet many partners (resellers, integrators or VARs) and I am keen to understand what they do. More often than not, their answer is a derivative of:
"We're a value-added solution provider, focusing on people, products and processes, to deliver best-of-breed solutions that increase ROI while decreasing risk, but what differentiates us is our ability to understand the customer's needs and our ability to be responsive."
What a load of waffl e! I could use that same sentence to describe my plumber!
As I stand there with the question "But what do you ACTUALLY DO?" flying around in my head, I am faced with a decision - do I have time to delve deeper and uncover their genuine value proposition (assuming they know what it is), or do I walk away with the assumption that they are yet another company that just sells stuff. And within an hour, I've forgotten the conversation and the name of the company.
The crying shame is that I, the vendors I consult to, and no doubt their customers, would dearly love to know the answer to that question.
It is a constant source of amazement to me that so few resellers can articulate their value proposition succinctly. I know they have one. They wouldn't be in business if their customers didn't see value in them. But it seems to me that only a very small minority has ever spent the time to sit down and clarify what that value is.
And yet this ability to explain what you do, in a manner that differentiates you from other resellers (or at least the bulk of resellers), is one of the most powerful ways to ensure you carve out a piece of mindshare with customers and vendors.
Compare the earlier description with phrases like "we ...
- specialise in providing IT solutions to the pharmaceutical industry"
- act as the in-house IT department for small companies who don't have enough resources"
- are the second largest Cisco partner in NSW"
- have a strong heritage in voice technologies, and we help companies implement VoIP"
I know you can do other things, but now I know you at least have one area of specialisation. This is what makes resellers appear different from the competition. This is what makes me think of you if I am a vendor and have a lead but am not sure who to send it to.
So what's your value proposition?
First of all, figure out what you do well. Don't try to cover everything - apply the Pareto Principle and work out the 20 per cent of things you do that generate 80 per cent of your business. The resellers who are most successful are the ones who know not only what they do, but what they don't do.
Second, learn how to convey this to your vendors and distributors. Make them understand what you do and why you have won business in the past. Help them understand your key value proposition and what customers or markets you service.
Remember, vendors provide products, but you're the one providing solutions. Work out what that solution is, and you'll have a lot more people remembering the name of your company.