There is no doubting that many resellers are currently experiencing a downturn in sales due to cut-backs in IT spending among their customer bases and the broad ramifications of a world economic slowdown. The introduction of a new operating system for both home and office users backed by the might and power of Microsoft's marketing machine will undoubtedly boost sales in today's extremely cautious market.
The launch of Windows XP gives resellers a chance to get out and talk to their customers about the additional productivity offered by Microsoft and the new sturdiness of the product. Not only will resellers benefit from having a new product to sell, but also one with proven testing and reliability.
I am convinced the introduction of such a well-tested and developed product will encourage many normally hesitant end users to make the decision to upgrade to Windows XP. But that's not where the sales opportunities end for the channel.
There is also the enormous potential for resellers to encourage their customers to upgrade to systems with higher technical specifications. Only then can they gain the full benefit of XP.
In corporate environments, I see a great opportunity to sell the videoconferencing and remote-support features. For OEM resellers there is also a great opportunity to upsell on extra memory while the home user can easily be upsold into a broad range of peripherals such as cameras, audio, video, home networking and gaming.
Properly trained staff are essential to maximising opportunity from the launch of Windows XP. To help resellers take full advantage of these sales opportunities, Ingram Micro is providing extensive channel training on Windows XP.
These training sessions will include instruction on the licensing of not only Windows XP but all Microsoft products. The sessions are structured so that resellers will be given the ability to knowledgeably recommend the appropriate Microsoft products for all types of customers.
Staff trained in Microsoft products will make the reseller's sales process for XP easier. A solid understanding of both the product and the licensing processes surrounding it allows staff to be far more proactive when selling Microsoft products. The training also reduces the very real risk of licensing errors, which can result in legal issues due to accidental piracy.
Meanwhile, at Ingram Micro, our sales staff are there to provide an extra resource for resellers to call on during their sales process. We are there to provide advice on features, benefits, licensing and pricing and have stepped up our service capability in these areas for this very important launch.
Ingram Micro is the largest Microsoft OEM distributor in Australia and our global links make us the largest Microsoft distributor worldwide. Windows XP will form the new lynchpin of Ingram Micro's MS-based offerings, which includes the full range of Microsoft product - OEM, FPP and licensing - therefore we can offer the best product for any situation to the Australian channel.
Steve Rust is managing director of Ingram Micro Australia.