After three days at SNW, 37 briefings and more than a few meetings with your reseller peers, I can tell you that this is a great time to be in the channel. The resellers I spoke to all indicated that business was good if not great. While they all said it quietly so as to not jinx themselves, they feel that Q4 will be OK, not a barnburner but certainly the wheels are not coming off.
Ironically, most of the manufacturers I talked to seemed a little more nervous, which I think is a side effect of being publicly traded. This is a great time to be a private, regional company without much debt. And that describes a large percentage of the resellers I know.
A common theme of these briefings was finding new ways to save customers money. The need to save money is always a good thing for you since it provides a reason to talk to customers and prospects. My advice is to focus on the solutions that solve customer problems and deliver, as I have said in the past, ROI now.
But, you should resist the urge to go “cheap.” While cost-effective solutions are clearly going to be popular with customers right now, you should focus more on delivering a very fast ROI.
For example, I have seen many resellers running away from the SSD market because they think no one is going to buy expensive storage. In my discussions with both Texas Memory Systems and Solid Data, they indicated that business was brisk and that Q4 looks fine. In fact, a fair amount of their business is still going to the financial community. Why? Now more than ever, customers need to be competitive, and SSD can help deliver that competitive edge. And some financial institutions, those that make money on trades, are booming.
I did a presentation on SSD at TechTarget’s Storage Decisions event in New York during the week the “meltdown” was in full swing. There was no indication that the people I talked to there would slow down their SSD purchases. I’ll let you know if the San Francisco Storage Decisions provides a different answer.
The need to resist going cheap also applies to high-end SAN and NAS solutions. Sales continue to be brisk; the trick for you is to explain the total cost to your customer and show an instant ROI.
Now, clearly, there will be customers that have had budgets slashed and that require better-priced solutions. And there are solid companies that offer complete solutions to meet these needs. Unless you have the infrastructure to support it, I would avoid starting a “roll your own” solution. Unless you’ve already been designing these kit-type of solutions, you should stick with the turnkey products that allow you to focus on what you do best: integrate, implement and support.
Please register for “Win in 2009,” a seminar designed for reseller engineers, salespeople and owners.
George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments.