Why it pays to listen to your channel partners

Every good vendor knows that hard numbers – sales data, market research, consumer sentiment – are vital. But on their own, they frequently do not represent true understanding. A telling anecdote, a good yarn, or simply the insight of someone working at the coal face of the IT channel are often what provides a breakthrough in understanding. Selling is still an activity that relies on human interaction and empathy – it’s not just about the numbers.

We’ve all known for a while now that buyers – especially at the small and medium business end of the PC market – are very cost conscious. Since the beginning of the downturn in 2008, PC assemblers have competed to win wallet-watching buyers in the SMB sector – to mixed results. Looking at sales figures is one thing, and it gives you great hindsight. What it doesn’t always do is give you an inkling of what people are going to want in the future.

The best insights come from a wide variety of sources, but in particular, those who shake hands with end users day in and day out – the resellers. And in turn, just as helpful is talking to the distributors – those who assist the resellers. The feedback being received from those on the front line of IT sales is invaluable. And without a doubt, these very channel partners now have more power than they have ever had before.

The influence of channel partners on the policies of system vendors has never been stronger. At AMD, we’re seeing that higher demand for AMD-based commercial systems from enterprise end user customers has started translating directly into distributors ordering and holding more stock than ever before, but also vendors starting to introduce more AMD-based options than ever before.

This increased demand for AMD-based commercial notebook solutions is primarily due to the feedback from assemblers at one end, and resellers at the other, that systems using AMD’s APU offer a creative way to differentiate and win more business.

Rather than shipping systems using the same old technology just to fulfil an order, a little creative specifying of systems can take advantage of the APU revolution. For example, a solution based around an APU based product could likely reduce the cost per unit. This can enable customers to meet reduced budget requirements, or allow them to purchase additional accessories or services within the original budget. These differences really matter to SMBs as well as larger organisations looking to maximise their budgets and the lifecycle of systems, as well as optimise productivity. Differentiation with AMD-based systems means resellers can give their customers more choice and in doing so, protect their interests and build more trusted and lasting business relationships.

And the results are significant. For AMD, our APU technology innovation, with clear graphics performance leadership truly makes a difference to the performance vs cost ratio. This has translated to our commercial channel products’ inventory level with distributors for SMB systems rising significantly this year – they’re ordering more commercial parts from us and from our system builder partners. This is primarily in direct response to reseller requests and reflects the growing power of the customer. Business customers are much more tech-savvy and refuse to compromise. They demand choice and want to see the AMD choices that optimise productivity, utilise the full scope of CPU and GPU and provide the best energy efficiency and lowest acquisition and running costs.

Resellers are often advocates for the end customer and their voice is finally being heard loud and clear. Instead of simply selling what is in the distributor warehouse, they are demanding choice and PC vendors are responding by offering a wider range of systems across their portfolios. The industry is moving in the right direction, and resellers are leading the charge. It pays – in more than one sense of the word – to listen to your channel.

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