Editors note: This is the first in an Ingram Micro SMB 500 distributor engagement series exploring the benefits and value of distribution support services to small and midsized solution providers. In this installment, Channelnomics looks at the power of vendor-relationship services.
Even the most skilled and tech-savvy SMB provider knows the problem: you have a well-planned and effectively branded technology practice in a fertile market and are poised for growth.
Despite that, the major technology vendors you rely on for the underpinnings of your offerings remain frustratingly at arm's length.
Getting the attention of vendors is crucial for VARs.
Resellers need access to vendor support services and insight into product maps and programme changes to fine-tune their businesses and plan for growth. Because of their size, however, SMB providers often lack the contacts and access necessary to build such relationships with global IT vendor powerhouses.
For Warren Tsang, owner of LogicShark Consulting, a New York City-based IT services firm, getting on the radar of the big vendors was a crucial objective. Rather than slug it out alone, Tsang opted to rely on the vendor relationship services of Ingram Micro.
For Tsang, the focus was on letting Ingram Micro use what it knew and who it knew, a move that greatly benefited his growing business, he said.
"Ingram Micro lets us optimise opportunities by keeping us up-to-speed on new products, services and solutions across all our vendors' portfolios," said Tsang. "Ingram Micro knows a lot about each vendor's products and programs, and how to accelerate procurement, so we have time to focus on the customer and on delivering solutions to our clients."
An Ingram partner for nearly a decade, Tsang credits the vendor relationships built through his engagement with Ingram Micro for helping his business achieve stellar success.
LogicShark has grown more than 3,200 per cent over the past three years, impressive enough to land the firm atop the Ingram Micro SMB 500 list of top resellers.
The SMB 500 list is compiled by Ingram Micro's Business Intelligence Center and US SMB Business Unit with channel research services firm the 2112 Group, the parent company of Channelnomics.com.
"We've always focused on SMB. We pride ourselves on being able to understand what products and services they need and how to optimise what they're already using," Tsang said. "Ingram Micro treats us the same way.
"Ingram Micro has such a wide array of vendors that it's easy for us," Tsang added. "We just keep our ears open, and the information comes to us. This frees us up to focus on the frontend, client-facing stuff while they assist with the back end. We wouldn't be able to be as successful as we are without Ingram Micro."
Like LogicShark, Ingram Micro partners that have the most successful support and company engagement interactions rank highest among the Santa Ana, California-based distributor's top performers.
Of Ingram Micro's top 50 performing SMB partners, 31 are ranked in the "high touch" or "very high touch" engagement categories. About 60 per cent of the top 100 are in the same ranks.
Ingram Micro SMB 500: An elite group
The 2012 Ingram Micro SMB 500 list was derived from the more than 20,000 US resellers, including MSPs, that work with Ingram Micro's US SMB Business Unit. Those channel partners named to the list demonstrated a consistent, average three-year growth rate of more than 200 per cent.
The list also takes into account select criteria such as company size, overall technology category revenue growth and innovation with SMB business engagements.
The performance of the Ingram Micro SMB 500 is undeniably impressive: The average three-year growth is 219 per cent, while average gross revenue is $15.2m (£9.9m).
The collective sales capacity is $6.53 bn, and the number of jobs supported by these companies is 72,150.
Coming in just behind LogicShark in at number two on the Ingram Micro SMB 500 was Technical Integration Services, a Fairfield, New Jersey-based medical, financial and legal services focused reseller that decided to capitalise on the distributor's ability to connect with the large vendors it was having trouble managing on its own.
"Ingram Micro worked with us in a lot of ways - getting approvals from vendors, moving to work more closely with virtualisation vendors, and helping us navigate the process of getting certified on specific products like VMware and Citrix," said TIS account manager Steve Rossi.
"These new credentials have helped us garner new business and also helped us refocus on our own core business."
TIS posted 1,594-per cent growth over the past three years and has nearly tripled its revenue year-over-year, thanks in part to the enablement services of the distributor.
"We are, after all, a small organisation, but having Ingram Micro in our corner to back us up - whether for Cisco, Microsoft, VMware, HP solutions or whatever - helps us quickly scale," said Rossi.
Ingram Micro partner Paul Hager, chief exec of Info Tech Professionals in Brookfield, Wisconsin, said his business has benefited from the ability to deal with Ingram Micro in a way it never could with the large IT vendors.
"The thing I've been most impressed with by Ingram Micro is how much time they invest in your business even before you've proven that you can sell IT services," said Hager. "It was a sharp contrast with how we were treated in the past when we tried working directly with larger vendors. We receive the same top-notch customer service - whether we're buying a $400,000 HP SAN or a $400 printer or laptop."
Info Tech Professionals saw 638 per cent sales revenue growth over the past three years and landed at number 24 on the list.
The ability to connect with vendors is also key for successful Ingram partners with aspirations to join the elite list like Galen Lambert, president of Smith Center, Kansas-based Computer Solutions, who has consolidated some 80 per cent of his business through Ingram.
The distribution giant has regularly connected CSI with vendors and their support teams, while clearing paths of communications with the right people that have helped it "get the right answers" to solve customers' problems, Lambert said.
In coming installments we'll look at how SMB VARs use distributor-led technical support and training, sales and marketing assistance, credit and financing, services augmentation and more.
Chris Gonsalves is vice president of editorial at Channelnomics
As part of our special editorial relationship, CRN is republishing this article from Channelnomics
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