What makes a true VAD?

Distributors in 2018 have to go beyond the old task of bringing a product to market, they have to work with resellers to provide unbeatable services
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Distributors in 2018 have to go beyond the old task of bringing a product to market, they have to work with resellers to provide unbeatable services
Chris Walsh, Alpha Generation Distribution

Chris Walsh, Alpha Generation Distribution

In today’s IT Channel, there are plenty of distributors that claim to fully service resellers. However, few completely understand their resellers’ challenges and offer value-add services to match – they simply distribute products using their network of partners like they always have.

A value added distributor (VAD), on the other hand, takes distribution to a deeper level. It delivers what resellers expect by stepping into their shoes and acting as the trusted intermediary between them and the vendor. It enables resellers to package carefully selected products and services to end-users, providing ongoing sales and technical support.

A true VAD offers everything resellers need and more to succeed as end-users increase their digital footprint. It offers choice, without saturating the market, and helps resellers to understand how a particular product can immediately benefit their existing product line-up.

This means offering partners the products and services their end-users are asking for. After all, end-users will prioritise the must-have technology – not the ‘nice-to-have’ – so, even if a product is pegged as ‘the next big thing’, it needs to be relevant.

A VAD will also evolve the way it works with resellers. It won’t team up with every single vendor just to offer as many products as possible to the reseller. Distributing 50-60 products makes it impossible to add real value, support, marketing, and sales expertise to a huge vendor portfolio. Quality should always trump quantity.

The same applies when selecting resellers. Many US vendors expect 50 partners but our market doesn’t have the capacity to deliver enough sales to fulfil halfway decent margins to all partners involved. It’s far better if a VAD starts with five resellers, and helps them make a good profit before helping another five partners get to the same level.

Differentiation is just as important as quality. Resellers don’t want to invest in getting to know a product only to find everyone is selling the same as them. A VAD will therefore work with vendors that offer something unique and overcomes objections from end-users.

Finally, a reseller might offer four or five technologies to develop a solution stack, but they might not all be offered by a single distributor. A VAD will be open to collaborating with other distributors to provide resellers with a complete solution for their end-users’ wants and needs.

The bottom line is that a true VAD is emphatic, patient and collaborative. It might take longer to build a strong and ethical partner network but it will be worth it in today’s crowded IT Channel. 

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