Johannes Groenewald, GM for Demand Factory and Marketing, Tarsus Distribution
The key to being a successful distributor is to work closely with your reseller channels. Leading distributors take this one step further by helping their resellers and channel partners to move beyond simply selling hardware to customers, but to also transform themselves into trusted technology advisors.
So says Johannes Groenewald, GM of Tarsus Distribution, SA’s leading ICT distributor. “At Tarsus, we work closely with our partners to help them leverage our skills and experience to better serve their customers.”
He cites the example of a customer looking for a hardware refresh for their fleet of computers. “A regular reseller might push them towards buying a range of new PCs, where a trusted advisor would first look at the option of upgrading and repurposing the current machines to save them time and money.”
Key to being viewed as a trusted advisor, is having the requisite skills and experience, explains Groenewald. “It is crucial to make sure your team has as many relevant skills and certifications as possible and continues to do ongoing training to keep them up to speed with all the new technologies on the market. Everyone in the team, from sales to support, should be doing this because the better they understand the solutions, the more easily they can sell them, and the more they can advise their customers.”
This is one way in which Groenewald says Tarsus Distribution empowers its channel partners. “We offer them the opportunity to upskill through vendor certification. All the big vendors offer partner programmes that our channel partners can use to achieve certification. Our end-users should always make sure that their service providers are certified, as it means that they’re sufficiently skilled to provide the best possible advice. This certification is offered at no cost to our sales teams and channel partners and just require their time and dedication.”
In a world where new technologies are constantly flooding the market, he says it’s easy for companies to get swept up in the hype and invest in the tech for the sake of it, with no real understanding of how it will address their needs. “A true value distributor will understand the customer’s needs and will prevent their technology partner from overspeccing or even worse, underspeccing their hardware. Having the right certifications ensures the partner guides the customer to acquire the best fitting solution that matches their needs.
Groenewald adds that a trusted advisor knows the right questions to ask to find out exactly what the customer’s needs are, and to ensure they get the appropriate equipment, and advice is given around upgrades, warranties, and customisations.
Ultimately, what is crucial is shifting from a box dropper to a true and trusted partner, and one that has a real understanding of the customer’s unique
needs. For example, he says many resellers of printing equipment simply supply a printer, and don’t offer their customers consumables or any other value-adds.
Groenewald says this is not only a lost opportunity because customers will now have to go to another reseller to buy their consumables, but the customer will wonder why a total solution wasn’t offered. “At Tarsus, we take our channel partners on a journey, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to provide their customers with a full solution, not just a printer in a box.”
This is all part of being that trusted advisor, he explains. “We want our channel partners to be able to understand the end-user’s requirements, design a solution with them, and help them with the installation and commissioning, instead of simply dropping a box.”
“We often see users using the wrong equipment for the wrong application in a business, and overspending or underspeccing, because they have not been given the right advice. For example, they might have bought a fancy colour printer when all they really use is black and white volume print. It might have made more sense to spend the money on a second black and white printer that is running at a lower cost per page for a requirement like that.”
Similarly, he says once a channel partner has installed hardware at a customer, more effort can be made to secure that customer by supplying them with service and support, for example. “An ongoing relationship can be maintained by notifying the customer when the equipment needs service or an upgrade or is running low on toner or ink. Here again, channel partners need to ensure that their staff are skilled enough to know how to check whether the customer’s hardware requires any maintenance.”
This leads Groenewald to an issue that channel partners don’t always consider or discuss with their customers, the extended warranty. “Many vendors sell extended warranties but too often, channel partners simply wait for their customer to order a replacement machine when the warranty expires, and the end-user isn’t aware that they have the option to extend their warranty. The onus is on the channel to educate and inform their customers about this, and let them know that they can invest limited OPEX instead of a large CAPEX lay-out.”
By considering these value proposition touch points, the channel partner may miss out on a quick sale in the short term, but in the long term, they will build a partnership for life with a loyal customer, he ends.
For any channel partners or businesses that are interested in engaging with Tarsus Distribution for assistance with your technology needs, you are invited to reach out to us here.