Here's a complaint that I frequently hear from independent resellers: "Vendors and distributors just don't want to listen to us little guys." And how's this for a moan I get from just about every vendor I talk to: "It's virtually impossible to engage with the resellers." Does it strike you that there might be some common ground here?
Let's toss in another little group of factettes. PCA member Bear IT was originally set up seven years ago; it now has enough business to support 12 staff – mostly technicians. It has won a raft of business awards both locally and nationally. The two directors attend every PCA event without fail and are now on first-name terms with key people from leading vendors and distributors, and their views are sought by suppliers and industry publications alike.
Should we consider Bear IT's success to be merely a spookily strange anomaly worthy of Mulder and Scully, or is there a simpler, more prosaic explanation? My vote is on the latter option. Here's what Adam Harris of Bear IT has to say about it: "PCA membership has been absolutely great for us – it has opened doors that otherwise we'd never have known existed, and it has facilitated business in several different areas. We'd never dream of missing a PCA fostered networking opportunity."
Harris' business partner Mark Lambert is equally enthusiastic. "Our very modest PCA membership fee has been paid for many times over by the benefit we've got from being part of the channel's trade association. Anyone who wants to know more is welcome to contact me or Adam directly on 0870 4436 967. I'm always up for a bit of networking, whether it's with suppliers or fellow resellers."
As Lambert indicates, a key part of building your business is building relationships with your suppliers and elsewhere in your industry. Anyone can do it, and like anything else the results you achieve are in direct proportion to the investment you're willing to make. That investment isn't so much nakedly financial as about budgeting your time. Of course, time is an ultra-scarce resource for most people – including, it has to be said, the directors of Bear IT. But they have made the investment and are now reaping the reward.
Over recent years it has become increasingly apparent to many people in the channel that the market is changing and they need to change their attitudes accordingly. The 'at each other's throats' view of business competitors has been replaced by the concept of 'cooperation' – competitors co-operating because failure to do so would hasten the demise of both.
Networking with each other whenever the opportunity presents is an important way to build relationships. From the vendor's point of view, engagement or 'mind-share' with resellers is vitally important to the development of their business.
The PCA, as an organisation for the whole of the IT channel, and from its inception having had the slogan 'keeping the industry as strong as possible for as long as possible,' is naturally keen to foster good relationships in the marketplace. And with that in mind we'll be building on the success of our recent Scottish meeting and holding a series of regional networking and business development events in the autumn.
They will be evening events that will largely replace our day-long national annual conference. Furthermore, they'll be open to all resellers; you don't have to be a PCA member in order to attend. If you want to be on the invitation list and invest in some worthwhile networking, then let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org