Sybase has handed over 80 per cent of its business to the channelove to two-tier distribution. Lisa Kelly reports. after it signed a supply agreement with Manchester-based Clarity - part of the Horizon Computer Group.
The database vendor has decided to cut its direct-named accounts from 3,000 to 300, in conjunction with its introductory move into two-tier distribution.
Chris Howgego, director of products and channels at Sybase, said: 'This will truly motivate the salesforce. The corporate plan is to put 80 per cent of product business through the channel. At the beginning of 1997 we sold as little as five per cent of our turnover through the channel.
We have now moved to a position where it is 40 per cent and, by the end of 1999, I expect it to be 80 per cent.'
According to Howgego, the vendor talked to 15 of the major and minor distributors over a 12 month period to find a suitable partner. He decided not to do business with them because 'they wanted to be sole distributors, have large margins, had no pre-sales people and wanted us to pay for training and do the marketing. They had no ethos of team selling - just a cash and carry approach. Clarity will work with us and support the resellers.'
He maintained: 'It is no longer possible to have one supplier to provide solutions. With the acquisition of Powersoft, we were becoming more channel centric. Today, resellers take the best technology to provide the best solution. Multiplicity of products is the way ahead. We will see a shift towards consortia with multiple vendors and partners.'
Those remaining on the list of direct-named accounts will not stay according to the money they spend but because 'they prefer dealing with the vendor direct', claimed Howgego.
Howgego vowed not to overstuff the channel: 'Resellers want a resource to help develop business, not a supplier loading them with products. We are not asking resellers to replace anything they are currently selling.
If there's a product in their range we can complement, that's great.'
Peter Rigby, marketing director of CHS, admitted that the distributor was in talks with Sybase, but the deal did not go ahead: 'The volumes were not attractive and too much investment was needed. Also, we have a strong relationship with Microsoft and sell SQL server products. There was not a lot that Sybase offered which added to that.
'Sybase has a good name, but not a big market - it needed a distributor more focused in carving out a market for the product.'
Roger Butterworth, business unit manager at Clarity - the first distributor to be appointed by Sybase - admitted 'there is a conflict for resellers where products overlap'. Howgego conceded Sybase was looking at two or three more distributors, one of which is understood to be Open Computing.
However, Butterworth was confident Clarity will be Sybase's only Vad: 'Sybase is close to signing another distributor, but we are the only true Vad, so we will have the upper hand.'
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