We are busy recruiting distributors across the globe. Our first stop is the UK, the easiest place to start because we have so much in common.
It has great international bandwidth, it is politically stable and relatively free of industrial unrest, and it is one of the easiest places to do business.
But there is only so much due-diligence studies can tell us. We have learned there are some cultural differences in the UK channel that we did not expect.
One pleasant surprise was that resellers are a little more self-reliant here than in the US.
Perhaps the time difference with the US means resellers do not try to rely on the support team from Vendor HQ to do everything. No matter how fantastic vendor support might be, it tends not to be awake when you Brits are doing your 10am pitches.
In the UK, the VAR's relationship with distributors is different too. In the UK, our distributor does an excellent job of explaining virtualisation.
Distributors often train resellers and sometimes they train the trainers. This is a rare skill and takes a lot of patience and understanding of not just the technology but the people involved. People learn at a different pace and in different ways.
The relationship does not end with knowledge and education. In the UK, VADs are often VAR partners too. They might put on joint road shows, demonstrations and exhibitions.
Often, the VAR and the VAD will pitch for business together. In marketing campaigns, the VAD will generate demand and opportunities and bring in the appropriate reseller based on its vertical expertise.
I have learned not to be too literal when presenting a concept in the UK, where I feel people tend to explain difficult topics more through examples or metaphors. The UK has many different dialects, so I think maybe that is why you've learned to simplify everything at first.
Distributors often represent a range of vendors, and can integrate them too. Ours has a number of security and network vendors on its books, and it can install their products as virtual appliances on our boxes. So the distributor does a useful job of integrating a solution stack.
In the UK, you also have to be good at tailoring your message to different audiences. If you are addressing financial directors, you employ the terms they might use. When marketing managers and chief marketing officers are the audience, you use their language and situations they might recognise from their own daily struggle.
We find this admirable – distributors can speak to all kinds of audiences and fine-tune their terminology for local markets. They must have learned that skill through years of developing the logistics to cover the diverse terrain that is Europe.
In the US, there is a lot more enthusiasm about technology for technology's sake. Over here, it's about the culture. And there is an incredible variation in cultures.
I have experienced working with both EMEA and US VARs and when they get behind an innovative technology, both devote the time, effort and resources. So there are two key elements to being a successful VAR.
First of all, their relationship with their customers. They are, after all, the trusted adviser. Secondly, they provide a complete solution.
Steve Kaplan is vice president of channel and strategic sales at Nutanix
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