Authenticity is what customers really want.
It rarely helps anyone when someone starts a price war, or simply sells on price for a period to buy market share.
All that happens is that customers' expectations are adjusted downwards in terms of what they can expect to pay for a particular product – and it is always difficult to get average selling prices back up to realistic levels.
It also makes it harder for the reseller to make money (out of the product sale at least) and puts pressure on distributor and vendor margins too.
That means less money in the channel to pay for support resources and R&D. Ultimately, the customer will be less well served.
But although the hi-tech industry is prone to eating itself in this way from time to time, it has always been able to regenerate eroded margins by bringing forward new or better offerings, if not driving higher volumes.
That may still be the case to some extent, but it is getting harder to come up with new solutions for which customers are prepared to pay a premium.
Most markets are also now pretty saturated.
Whether they are big corporations or everyday consumers, customers by and large know how low suppliers will go on price.
Selling online means everyone has access to the information, the pricing and the availability. If they seek a low price, they will be able to find it somewhere.
However, most want someone to look after them and give them great service. The widely held view that most customers are principally focused on price and nothing else matters to them is wrong.
Most are now much more interested in the authenticity of their supplier and their ability and willingness to look after them. They want to know that you can and will deliver a decent level of service, and that you will be prepared to drop everything and get all hands on deck when they have a problem.
They want to believe in their IT provider because their IT systems are important to them.
For even the smallest business, a failing laptop or wireless access point can cause major headaches and lost time. No one can afford that today.
Customers want a good deal, of course they do. But they also want their suppliers to demonstrate genuine honesty, integrity and veracity. They need to know that you can and will do what you say you'll do; they need to be able to trust you.
People buy from people, and depend on people to look after them and their interests. Customers want to know that you are intelligent, trained, informed and sincere about providing them with dependable offerings and good, honest customer service.
They want to know that you are not just out to make a quick profit, but genuinely want to help them. That is worth much more than a low price.
This is the new reality of the market and one that resellers need to start moving front of mind and communicating to customers – because that is what they truly value.
Antony Byford is UK and Ireland channel manager at ZyXel
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