Distribution finds new role in partnering.... and in vendor education

As the trend towards more specialisation leads to co-operation and adding partners with particular skills- the role of the distributor is being more widely recognised.

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At the Managed Hosting summit in September GTDC European GM Peter van den Berg (seated, right in picture) took part in a discussion chaired by IT Europe Editor John Garratt (right in picture) on the need for partnership to deliver complete solutions. “Yes, distribution is in the middle of this – an average solution now requires around twenty partners. And for distribution itself, it is in the genes to partner with resellers and vendors. Ten or fifteen years ago it was pick, pack and ship; now it a lot of services – 60…70…80 different services which they provide to the channel,” he told the audience of several hundred service providers,

The other thing is ‘who owns the customer?’ he says. “One thing is clear – distribution does not – they are there to partner and there to help, but will never invoice the end user customer. It is an easy relationship to work with a distributor. And you can use what you need.”

Distribution has been investing heavily in education and training, product knowledge, sales training. And this matters says Michael Frisby, Managing Director, Cobweb (seated on left in picture). “The knowledge your staff have is the value seen by the customer. Everything from marketing through to pre sales post sales and support – all matters no. You have to keep investing.”

Martin Saunders, Head of Product, Highlight (seated centre in picture) says: “Good distributors can help vendors to understand service providers. I think it is fair to say that most vendors’ understanding of service providers is shocking. Either they assume you are huge and put you in with the enterprises such as banks because you buy a lot of stuff, or they think you are a simple reseller and you are nothing like that. Good distributors are very active with vendors and helping vendors understand what a service provider is – that’s it is multitenanted, has to have flexible terms and financing, all these things make service providers happy.”  

Peter van den Berg: “The distributor knows the vendors and works on the solution and knows how to glue it together. [We are] in the middle with knowledge and can help pull down the education and training for the channel.” 

Learn more from the GTDC on how distribution is committed to highly collaborative partnerships here