When Tech Pacific brought in the minimum order and freight fee charges and changed its credit terms some 18 months ago, resellers went up in arms.
The impact of the changes on SMB and regional resellers was significant and the sentiment summed up in a letter from Milton, Queensland-based reseller, Gary Hall, who wrote: “Like many others resellers, I hated Tech Pacific, I would not have spat on them if they were on fire!” (see letters on page 3).
For a while there, it seemed that the war was going to be an ongoing one. But that all changed with the arrival of a new management team, which under the guidance of managing director, Kerry Baillie, and sales director, John Walters, set about instilling a new culture of re-engagement with the small and medium end of the channel.
“We’ve had a bit of a reputation for dealing only with the big boys,” John Walters said. “But our internal attitude and culture has changed, and we want to take a clear message to the market that we want to re-engage with small and medium customers in a sincere way.”
After spending two months on the road and completing a 500-reseller research program with HP and an external research company, Tech Pacific team found that SMB and regional resellers were mostly receiving support from subdistributors, but had no real customer relationships with their preferred distributors.
In late January, Baillie and Walters organised a heart-to-heart with resellers in Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst. What they heard was a devastating feedback on the way the distributor had been treating its 3500-4000 SMB and regional customer base.
“We found that this was probably the first time ever that a distributor had contacted them to hear their concerns and we wanted to go out to them with the message that we’re approachable and want to do business with them, “ Walters said.
Out of the experience came the first communication and leadership-focused SMB Regional Workshop held in Canberra in March, and soon after Tech Pacific’s new SMB and regional strategy to be launched on June 1.
The new strategy aims to reinvigorate customer relationship through the installment of country representatives and structural changes that will see ‘tier one type relationships brought to tier two partners’, with state managers charged with adapting the strategy for different states.
Two people have already been appointed as second-in-charge to the state managers in Victoria and NSW, and a trial country representative role has been created in Central NSW.
The new country representative in Bathurst is IT veteran, Richard McIntosh, who will oversee sales and customer service for all TP products including IT, retail, mobile phones and associated products.
“This is probably the first time ever such a role has been created at Tech Pacific," Walters said. “It made sense for us to do it in Central NSW first, but would look at the rest of Australia as we go.”
The strategy’s launch will focus on the “Tech Pac Winners Circle” promotion, that will reward 15 regional and SMB resellers for sales and growth achievement over the next four months.
Asked whether the promotion was vendor-sponsored, Walters said Tech Pacific would pay for it “lock, stock and barrel”.
“This is not a one-off thing, but the way Tech Pacific is going to be doing business from now on, “ he said.
Tech Pacific has purposefully set no targets in terms of sales or the number of resellers it expects to win back through the strategy. Instead, the distributor is focusing on reviving its SMB and regional base, hoping to solidify its position as the distributor with enough breadth and coverage to maintain leadership in managing tier-one, as well as tier-two relationships for its vendors.
“We’re in it for the long haul and we want to make sure that we cover all areas of the market and move from being the biggest to being the most favourite distributor in the channel,” Walters said.
All resellers will be notified of the new strategy and promotion in a letter to be sent from Tech Pacific in the next couple of weeks.