Market researcher the Dell’Oro Group estimates that WLAN penetration among all enterprises worldwide remains just 15 per cent. Due to the lack of suitable and affordable products, resellers have yet to capitalise on selling WLAN systems into the lucrative SME market. For these businesses, only two real WLAN options currently exist: high-end enterprise equipment that is typically costly and cumbersome, or cheap consumer Wi-Fi products.
Analyst Gartner estimates that the typical cost of ownership of an enterprise WLAN system can run to over $100,000. This is not only way beyond the reach of your average SME it is also difficult for resellers to sell these products at a high margin.
Meanwhile, feature-free consumer products – equally difficult for resellers to offer – simply don’t support business needs and wind up being anything but simple and cheap to deploy.
Consequently SMEs are beginning to demand more effective wireless networking systems that provide higher levels of reliability, automation, support for delay-sensitive applications such as voice, and built in RF management. In response, equipment suppliers and resellers are now moving away from trying to meet the different needs of multiple markets with a single product, and new reliable multimedia WLANs specifically aimed at SMEs are providing these organisations with affordable solutions that meet these requirements.
Yet many resellers still believe that selling SME products is not as financially rewarding as selling to larger enterprises. This isn’t necessarily true. While absolute profit margins will be higher for larger deals, percentage margins are more favourable in the SME market and this – coupled with the shorter sales cycles and the sheer number of potential customers – means it is a potentially lucrative market. The savvy reseller will be offering appropriate solutions to both markets.
For WLANs to penetrate the SME market, resellers play a crucial role as these small companies often have limited IT knowledge and rely on resellers to advise them on the best solution to suit their specific requirements. This represents an excellent opportunity for the channel and, with the right products, this untapped market will dramatically help boost resellers’ profits.
To ensure resellers are in the best possible position, vendors must offer partner programmes that provide access to information such as FAQs, case studies, customer references, like-for-like competitor price comparisons and details of the total cost of ownership. This equips channel partners with all the knowledge they need to advise customers and encourages best practice in solution selling.
Effective and simple partner programmes that allow resellers to complete training and accreditation quickly and easily also make targeting this potentially lucrative market an excellent opportunity for resellers.
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