IT channel takeaway: Value-added resellers (VARs) need to keep up with new products in order to best solve customer problems. This tip offers some ideas on discovering new products.
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VARs are often surprised by customers who ask about products they know nothing about, or they may just not be aware of certain products that could solve customer needs. How does the VAR learn about new products and technologies that can be used to solve a problem? Many get calls and visits from vendor representatives to promote their products -- but not all vendors can reach all VARs. It's up to the VAR to find out about the product.
There are several ways to do this.
Internet search: If the customer problem is fairly well defined, an Internet search around the topic may be very useful, though it is also time consuming and frustrating considering the potential number of items to peruse. The narrower the description, the less to look at. Because of the pace of new products entering the marketplace, this search should be done at least every two weeks if not weekly.
Road shows: Periodically vendors put on road shows targeted at customers. These road shows usually feature a group of vendors explaining the virtues of their products. VARs have opportunities to sponsor these road shows and certainly attend, which gives them a chance to talk to vendor representatives and also meet some new customers.
VAR Web sites: To reach out to vendors, VARs can also post information about the types of solutions they offer and competing products included in their solutions on the Internet. Vendors with new products can search and find those resellers and push new product information to them. This seems simple, but it requires setting up the proper keywords and even getting the VAR listed as a partner or reseller on the vendor's Web site.
Finding the best products to include in solutions is not a one-time event. It is ongoing because new and better products become available all the time. Being surprised by the customer or appearing not to have the best products for a solution is an easy way to get a reputation for being behind in technology.
About the author: Randy Kerns is an independent storage consultant. In the past, he served as vice president of strategy and planning for storage at Sun Microsystems Inc., and covers storage and storage management software including SAN and NAS analysis. He has been in the computer industry for over 30 years, involved in the development of storage products for both mainframe and open systems. His background is in product design and development. Pose your storage solution questions to Randy in our Ask the Experts area.