Local Technology Selection: To VAR or Not to VAR

Local Technology Selection: To VAR or Not to VAR

 
 

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The old maxim is, “all news is local.” Many meteorologists argue that all weather is local as well. All CIO’s, CFO’s, and CEO’s must make a decision if technology solutions should be made with local vendors. The development of lasting trust and credibility with high-ranking decision-makers has always been necessary for high-tech sales success; two factors drive this emerging trend: the growing demand for fully integrated technology solutions, and the resulting desire by customers to minimize risk by forging real partnerships with strategic suppliers.
 
Among the thousands of software firms selling their goods, there is a wide divide based on those which utilize VARs (value added resellers) and those with “corporation-only” salesforces. There are pros and cons to each management scenario. Those companies which avoid the VAR methodology argue that inconsistency in quality among VAR consultancies, lack of product knowledge and expertise, and lost margins negate the advantages of using these “outsiders.”
 
It is difficult to control the behavior of VARS worldwide; it is also difficult to grow an organization without product champions. Few software companies have the breadth of staff to function throughout North America, let alone worldwide. The structure of a VAR selection and training program often assuages company and client fears regarding product knowledge and expertise. 
  
When Visibility Corporation, located in Andover, Massachusetts, wanted to expand their strong Canadian client base, the engineer-to-order ERP (enterprise resource planning) software firm, turned to BSA (Business Solutions Alliance), a professional consulting services firm located in Whitby, Ontario. As a leader in the Ontario ERP consulting services market (aka VAR), BSA is known for its comprehensive knowledge of Engineer to Order (ETO) and Make to Order (MTO) manufacturing principles and practices. Comprised of experts in the fields of Manufacturing, Finance and Information Technology, BSA offers customers full service business solutions including ERP implementation and consultation, Business Process Mapping and Best Practices, Advanced MRP and Scheduling, Financial Services, IT network infrastructure and network administration services, custom application/reporting development and skills training. BSA has assisted over 100 manufacturers across Canada and the United States in reducing operating costs, improving operating efficiencies and gaining competitive advantages in their marketplaces.   BSA is the Canadian reseller of Visibility Corporation’s, VISIBILITY.net ERP solution. 
 
According to Stephen Carson, executive vice-president with Visibility, “What works is the tight integration of Visibility with our partners like BSA; we consider VARS an extension of our own organization. It’s not a flood the market with resellers approach, but rather selective solid partnerships which increase the likelihood for strong long term benefits for the customer and their gaining optimal guidance on the use of the solution.”
 
Nora Lynch, a senior manager with BSA, noted, “My goal at BSA is to provide leadership, strategy and most importantly action to sell VISIBILITY.net to SME Engineer-to-Order and Make-to-Order Canadian manufacturers who appreciate their need for a solution that has been truly engineered from the ground up to manage their complex unique manufacturing requirements.
 
The Regional or Local Voice of the VAR
 
Despite dozens of Canadian implementations, Visibility recognized that Canadian accounts would rather work with a Canadian-based firm. The geographic consideration has nothing to do with the technological specificity of a software product, rather the comfort, confidence, and coordination the customer feels when purchasing software technology solutions.
 
BSA is recognized as a solutions company serving the manufacturing community, having developed a 'Best Practice Methodology' for implementing new business solutions, with focus and speed. BSA’s consultants, totaling hundreds of years of experience in ERP deployment and manufacturing, provides exceptional service to a broad range of ETO and MTO (made-to-order) customers. BSA provides a focused implementation philosophy with experienced implementers ensuring a quick ROI with the lowest total cost of ownership. With offices in Ontario, BSA has over 100 active customers across Canada.
 
VARs are people too…
 
VARs are industry experts and not all VARS are created equally. Nora Lynch has a strong understanding of the ERP market in Canada; with over fifteen years experience as a direct contributor and leader, action oriented senior sales professional she delivers a unique skillset including creative solution selling.
 
Formerly with Deloitte, Inc. as a Business Development Leader, Lynch p rovided the direction and strategy to double the size of Deloitte’s Oracle Practice. For nearly ten years Lynch served as vice-president of Applications for Oracle Corporation Canada. Having attended both Fanshaw College and Queens University Lynch understands the Canadian marketplace which allows her provide a significant role as a strategic partner VAR. 
 
The Successful VAR….
 
In order to avoid working with a VAR, rather than the software manufacturer directly, some Canadian firms would rather select from software manufacturers based in Canada. Unfortunately that pool of potential technology solutions may not always generate the best selection. 
 
Few take advantage of their ability to sell technology-based solutions to senior executive buyers. VARs will find themselves squeezed out of the marketplace by systems integrators and other channel distribution alternatives. So far, systems integration firms are reaping most of the new business from repeatable integrated solutions consortiums, but VARs will play a significant role in this emerging trend.
 
Eighty percent of top-ranking executives have formed close partnerships with providers of strategic goods and services, especially for high-technology solutions. To minimize risk, customers want to develop solid relationships with strategic suppliers they trust.   Executive buyers have made it clear that to develop this level of trust, salespeople must first demonstrate the ability to marshal resources that solve the executive's business challenges. The VAR must also show they understand the executive's business goals and objectives. Executives expect VARs to be held accountable for results and responsiveness to customer requests.
 
Those sales competencies describe and define the successful VAR. Aware of those advantages, VAR sales managers through coaching and development can help their team members to swiftly develop trusted advisor relationships with senior executives, thus placing the VAR in the best position to fulfill the increasing demand for fully integrated solutions.  For smaller or midsized Canadian management teams who are “tapped out” and “stretched thin”, local technology support is a critical augmentation to the management team. Even large organizations benefit from the objective perspective of outside, yet local, technology consulting.
 
Author Profile:
Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based TR Cutler, Inc., the largest manufacturing marketing firm worldwide – http://www.trcutlerinc.com/. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of three thousand journalists writing about trends in manufacturing.   Cutler is the lead spokesperson for the ETO Institute (http://www.etoinstitute.org/). Cutler is also the author of the Manufacturers’ Public Relations and Media Guide. Cutler is a frequently published author within the manufacturing sector, more than 200 feature articles annually, can be contacted at [email protected] or at 954-486-7562.