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London, December 7th, 2017
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Toronto, February 1st, 2018
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Toronto, February 1st, 2018
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April 9, 10, 2018
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June 4,5, 2018
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BC, October 22-23, 2018
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ChannelNext Tackles Economic Impact On Channel

“These are Great Times for Entrepreneurs” was the title of Jim Estill’s (CEO of Synnex) presentation that kicked off the conference. It demonstrated that while there are serious economic challenges facing the channel, this could be offset by the abundance of new business opportunities. “It is a new reality for the industry that will take about three years to correct” and “Expect many start-ups as companies layoff top people who then decide to become entrepreneurs” Mr. Estill said.

The credit crunch will eventually affect everyone. End-customers will pull back from spending for some IT projects, some may go bankrupt and others will postpone purchases. Regardless, it will impact your sales. How you manage these effects will make the difference in how you weather the storm.

Several VARS commented that in the past it was very difficult to hire good people but with more potential layoffs, this may be a good time to find great staff. There will be an upside to the downturn. The key is to know how your customers will react and being prepared to meet their needs.

Jose Brito, Director of Credit Services Tech Data, talked about how VARS can manage credit issues with their distributors. Mr. Brito explained the overall financial health of the industry and provided several guidelines on how to improve your cash flow. “Working closely with the credit management of your suppliers is key in maintaining business flow” comments Mr. Brito. “There is some good news for Canada as our banks are the best rated in the world, there is no meltdown in the housing market and the Canadian economy is expected to outperform the G7. And, it is not too late to prepare for a slow down” Mr. Brito adds.

While our key trading partners are facing difficulty and it will be more expensive to borrow (especially as the IT sector is considered high-risk by banks), most Canadian resellers were profitable in first half of this year. Growth was consistent in all geographies with average margins still in double digits. Mr. Brito also presented some important benchmark numbers for VARS to compare industry averages with their financial statements. He adds “Minimizing inventory and collecting faster on your A/R by billing promptly and providing incentives for customer to pay faster is a good plan”.

To help soften the credit impact, VARS were urged to explore other financial services such as leasing and vendor-specific financing. Many top vendors will finance deals that include their products. During bad times, you must forecast cash flow, communicate early and often with your suppliers, have alternate plans in place in case things do not work out right the first time, and brainstorm with creditors for ideas. In tough times credibility is most important.

Should you market your business during tough times? George Torok, Marketing expert at VARCoach suggested that you should be marketing your business at all times and maybe even more so during difficult times. He suggested several ways in which you can market your business at a low cost. “Start by building an effective customer database with proper contact information and e-mail addresses” Mr. Torok said. You can stay in touch with your customer cost-effectively by sending e-mails and calling them. Over the next few months Mr. Torok and VARCoach will be offering several web seminars to help resellers market their business (look for seminar schedule on [ http://www.varcoach.com ]www.varcoach.com and [ http://www.e-channelnews.com ]www.e-channelnews.com )

Several vendors presented recession-proof solutions and showed how VARS can sell them to their customers. Storage solutions for SMB were the featured panel discussion presented by Bell Micro and their partners Hitachi, Quantum and Sun Microsystems. They showcased several ways that VARS can solve their customers’ storage problems and more importantly how to make the sales pitch to close deals during tight spending times. It is all about saving your customers time, money and increasing productivity.

Zenith presented an outstanding solution and strategy for VARS to get into the managed services business. Start by offering managed backup solutions using Zenith. Private label the service and charge monthly. This simple to implement back-up and disaster recovery solution to protect your customer’s data and business is always mission-critical.

The popular Speed Introductions was the first major networking activity at ChannelNext. The backdrop was the beautiful Banff mountain range surrounding the Rimrock resort. VARs and Vendors connected with each other every 2 minutes to explore the potential partner fit. All this was over an open bar and some great finger food. The buses then took everyone to the ChannelNext Banff Pub Crawl and Treasure Hunt. At every pub, VARS ate, drank and participated in a contest to win serious cash. My favorite was the fastest beer-drinking contest. It was a chug of fun! Other contests included pool, dice games and a memory game that quickly became more interesting as the drinks kept being poured. No one was hurt and everyone went back to the hotel safely!

Back at the hotel, everyone continued the networking and conversations at the penthouse suite overlooking the mountains and stars. What a sight! This was one of the best hospitality suites at ChannelNext that ended for some, well after midnight. Whatever happens in Banff stays in Banff.

Next morning, the VARS did their breakout sessions with the Gold sponsor vendors to listen to their 30-minute private presentations. IBM, HP, Autotask, Bell Micro and Brother all presented their latest channel partner programs and special opportunities in the privacy of their meeting room. Some vendors extended their meeting room to invite other VARS outside of the ChannelNext event for special meetings in their private event-within-the-event.

Corel’s workshop focused on their latest software collection and hot new partner program designed to generate more revenues for VARS. VARCoach’s workshop presented the Secrets of Success by George Torok – extracted from his over 400 interviews with successful business leaders. Samsung showcased their latest products that are sold exclusively through channel partners with some huge incentives for VARS. Zenith wrapped up the workshop session with a solid strategy for VARS to get into the managed services business by offering Business Continuity. Attendees received everything they will need to get started including white papers, mail templates, telemarketing script, demos and flash presentations. That is how all vendors should do it!

The Expo wrapped up the event as over 30 vendors met the VARS over lunch, product demonstrations, and many prize giveaways. One lucky winner was able to unlock the grand prize Treasure Hunt Chest filled with lots of cash and prizes. The award for Best Presentation and Meeting was given to HP for the ChannelNext Central Event and The Best Workshop was presented to Kaseya. EcnTV was onsite as usual to capture all the action live. You can watch the video at [ http://www.ecntv.ca ]www.ecntv.ca . You can always contact ChannelNext if you would like to connect with any vendor from the event. See you next year! Check the dates on www.channelnext.ca