Are you fed up with trying to take corporate business off the big guns? Don't give up just yet.
A funny thing has been happening to corporate dealer businesses in the past few months. Business which the biggest fish won from their rivals a year or two ago has been finding its way back to the original supplier.
The reason for this appears to be the level of service that has been on offer. One or two organisations that felt they either needed a change or were unhappy with service levels decided to try a new supplier. And there are some corporate resellers around that are capable of making a good impression.
But now, 18 months later, some of those customers have reverted back, either completely or in part to their original supplier. Also, there are other corporate organisations that have awarded certain projects to rival dealers because they want to fire a warning shot across the bows of the incumbent.
But why is this happening? One reason is focus. Another is simply the model employed by the reseller business and the resources made available to the contract.
From time to time corporate dealers decide to focus on taking business away from their rivals, just as from time to time they focus on poaching staff from each other. But once they get the business they can lose that focus, especially if it is not one of their key business areas.
Different corporate dealers are better at different things. One may be more focused on financial services, another on the public sector, for example.
Some corporate dealers are getting so big it is becoming difficult for them to focus on the smaller businesses. For Computacenter, for example, now a #1 billion business, a contract that attracts perhaps #1 million sales a year is pretty damn small, just one tenth of one per cent of turnover or less. How much resource can a company dedicate to that? If your business has sales of #10 million it would be worth #10,000.
If your sales are #1 million, it's #1,000. It is not an insignificant figure, but it is small.
Then there's the resource problem. If you are providing support or maintenance, do you contract people to do it or use your own staff? Technical staff are expensive and difficult to hold on to at the moment. But if you use contractors and they don't come up to scratch, what then?
The larger corporate resellers are getting to the size where they are no longer effective in providing a service to the smaller corporate companies that want to do only a million pounds' worth of business a year. And they are especially poor if they don't have permanent, accountable staff servicing the contract.
For some of the smaller dealer businesses addressing the corporate market, there is hope yet. And it re-emphasises the importance of being focused, building on your strengths and looking after your key personnel.
Simon Meredith is a freelance IT journalist.
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