To compete against Distributor Value-Added Resellers (DVARs), smaller Value-Added Resellers (VARs) should specialize and become an expert in a specific technology area. Whether you are competing against a big regional seller or a local VAR that is better known than your business, being a small- to medium-sized business (SMB) VAR can be a challenge.
One way to approach that competitive environment is to think like a doctor. Many doctors are individual practitioners with specializations who live and practice in the shadows of huge organizations and hospitals. The ones that really thrive are those that are highly specialized. In fact, most of them don’t even consider that they are going head-to-head with the big, local healthcare providers. These doctors decided to specialize in something, so they are sought out by those who need expertise in that area.
To compete with DVARs, SMB VARs need to take the same mindset: Pick a specialization and don’t try to be everything to everybody. Ways to achieve that include staying educated, becoming – and staying – active in the community and creating – and maintaining – an online experience that is a value-add for existing and potential customers.
Educate Your Team
To stay educated, invest wisely in the area that you want to specialize, whether it is cybersecurity, collaboration technology or cloud. Frankly, cash flow is limited for smaller SMBs, so they don’t have money to throw all over the place. Invest money – and time – in staying up-to-date on your area. Comstor can help through its EDGE programs, which allow you to educate yourself and your team on every Cisco architecture.
Through a series of levels, from Surge, Evolution, CSI, and Elevate, Comstor can help you choose an area of expertise and become the best in the area. Then, just like a local specialist would be sought out for a medical issue, you can set the stage to become a local technology specialist for your customers. You can’t take that next step to trusted advisor, however, if you aren’t also active in your community.
Stay Active in The Community
Everyone at the SMB VAR should become – and remain – active in the local community. That means everyone from salespeople to engineers. Just remember that this has to be as focused as the technology specialty, because your team can’t “play” everywhere or be everything to everyone. Seek out local rotaries, area business associations and chambers of commerce and make sure that every member of your team is involved in at least one of them. That will not only benefit your company, but also your community. While your employees are developing relationships, they are getting the name of your business out in the community. This is critical because being successful is as much about soft leadership and branding your business as it is about being an expert in your field. The next step is creating an online presence to keep your VAR business in front of the community.
Become a Trusted Advisor
You have to create – and maintain – a steady presence online, whether that is connecting through groups on LinkedIn, focusing on a group on Facebook or engaging on Twitter. You don’t have the ad budget of a DVAR, so utilize social media to establish a steady drumbeat of valuable information for your customers.
Two things you must remember about creating an online presence: You must be consistent, and you must bring value. You can’t say “We did it for three months,” and then let off the gas. In fact, if you aren’t going to be consistent, you should skip it.
While the physical networking – being out in the community – occur four to five times a month, an online presence should be something you support every day. And, it has to be of value to your customers, not just another sales pitch. If you see an interesting story in the news about your specialty area, Tweet about it or share it on LinkedIn. Or, send an email about it to the person you sat with at the last Rotary meeting. It’s as simple as that.
DVARs have bigger solutions (that most of your customers cannot afford and do not need), and they’re not going to be as locally invested in the community. Make your SMB VAR business the local expert, ensure you are active in local organizations and create and maintain a trusted advisor status online, and you can outflank, outdo and outsell the big DVARS.