Top 5 Reasons to Work with a VAR
One of the biggest questions faced by companies seeking to make large technology purchases is which firm to partner with to get the job done. Will you work with a Value-Added Reseller (VAR), or purchase directly from the hardware and software manufacturers? Where can you get the best price? How can you tell a good VAR from a bad one? Do you really need an integrator if you have a capable IT staff? Who is going to be there to help you through the process so your project is deemed a success, rather than a crash-and-burn-catastrophe? After all, even the best-intentioned decisions can be disastrous if implemented poorly. Here are a few points that might help you with your decision:
Buying Power: Because a VAR typically serves more than one customer, it buys more product than any one single end-user would purchase. Therefore, a VAR has substantial buying power over any single end-user. VARs often represent hundreds of small to medium customers - with aggregate buying power that may exceed that of several very large enterprise clients - and have a very easy time of it when it comes to getting the ear of their vendors. As a result, in cases where a single small voice would typically not attract much attention with a large vendor - or at least would not get as much attention as the larger companies would receive - a VAR is in just about every sense a large customer of the vendors, and has the potential to be a very squeaky wheel indeed. Thus, a VAR would be a much more effective advocate for 200 customers than the 200 customers could ever be if they were speaking individually.
Insight: One of the strongest benefits offered by a value-added reseller is just plain insight. With a constant eye on the wider market, a value-added reseller can develop their own snapshot of how similar businesses operate, and then apply this knowledge and experience to their customers who, in turn, don’t have to earn this wisdom the hard way. Simply put, a business partnered with a VAR has access to all the insight that the VAR has gained working with similar businesses, providing a competitive advantage and allowing for faster growth. The VAR could recognize an overlooked or undervalued hardware or software supplement that has worked well for businesses in the same field.
Asset Management: Many organizations struggle to keep tabs on their IT assets. The number of products, manufacturers, and licensing agreements is enough to make any person’s head spin. That’s why most companies use some sort of IT asset management to keep track of the various renewal dates, and understand what licenses they have on hand. But even then, they have little strategic direction for their licensing. No organization looking to license software or hardware has the time or resources to research every potential manufacturer’s products and compare the costs and benefits. VARs, on the other hand, have staff devoted to staying up-to-date on the products available, as well as the nuances of every agreement. When customers work with VARs, they receive advice on which manufacturers and products can best support their goals, as well as guidance on manufacturer pricing.
Integration: A good VAR isn’t a box pusher; they’re a solution provider. It’s important to them to have a full understanding of your business and goals because they want to suggest the best product(s) for you. A good VAR’s job is to make the most appropriate recommendations that address your issues. VARs offer the full scope of overall system components and they can help you choose the best product combinations. They will know from experience which products work the best together in different business situations. Because the VAR has experience implementing and installing several different products and services, they bring much more value to the table than any single manufacturer can. In short, having options is always a good thing. Having someone with the implementation and integration expertise to help you sort through them is even better.
Education: The top VARs are always looking to help educate their customers and prospective customers. Education can come in the form of a brief tech overview via WebEx or conference call, tech workshop that includes labs and hands-on experience, or demo sessions that allow you to test a product. In addition, a heavy social media presence that provides videos, blogs or technical discussions can also be extremely helpful in educating both clients and prospective clients. Seek out VARs that take the time to build out their own content, labs, and tailor the messaging to a technical audience. Anyone can provide a canned presentation provided by a manufacturer, but the best VAR will demystify products by providing the true value propositions, not just what is on the vendor's marketing collateral.