Convincing the customer to buy from you as opposed to buying direct is a challenge as old as the dealer channel itself. The answer is in the first two letters of the acronym VAR: Value Added.
What can you provide them that they cannot get by going direct? Is it on-site installation? A cheaper price? A stronger customer relationship? In many cases, it can be all of these reasons, as well as others. Particularly in the Unix space, the big three hardware manufacturers for some time now have been trying to encourage their customers to purchase from business partners and/or authorized dealers. There is just no way that they can properly manage all their customer relationships, particularly with smaller clients, without the channel partner. That is one reason why they offer you the incentives they do to sell their products and establish partner-type relationships. In turn, you need to deliver that message to the client. Make them understand how the relationship works and how it works to the betterment of all parties. Show them the extra value that you provide to them and make them feel special. Offer them integrated product suites that work with their networks and storage area networks (SANs), which the proprietary hardware vendors cannot usually deliver – at least not without a premium cost.
It's all about the message and if you deliver it well, you should have no problem establishing and building successful customer relationships. The vendor may even be able to help you out here, provided of course you are a loyal partner and are nice to them.
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