Over the last week, I’ve had two meetings with local Ingram Micro in an attempt to help them better understand the needs of the SMB IT Reseller so that we might be able to do better business with them. These meetings came out of a phone call from John Walters – Ingrams’ Sales Director here in Australia. Yesterday, John had a team meeting with his state managers and I was invited to come along and spend some time with them to take the message from the coal face right back to these guys. Ryan Spillane – my business partner at Correct Solutions came along too and we both gave them what we saw from our perspective and from the issues we hear about out there in the community. When talking to Vendors and distributors I like to be able to give a balanced view of what they do and how we see them. I honestly struggled though with giving some positives about the relationships that SMB IT resellers have with them. That’s not to say it’s all bad, but just that I’ve not seen all that much good in it. During the meeting, Ingram Micros’ Vice President and Managing Director of Australia, Guy Freeland joined us.
To their credit, John and his team took lots of notes, asked lots of questions and I think really are trying to understand exactly what we need to do more / better business with them. We stressed to them that we think it’s a two way relationship and it’s not all about what we can get from them, but what we can do together. Communication was the number one issue that we felt was the cause of the bad reputation and issues that we had with Ingram. Funny though – it’s been something I have been thinking about for some time – in fact I wrote a guest column for CRN Magazine for it last month – it’s here if you want to take a read.
Coming out of these meetings, Ingram have committed to attending the SBS Groups around Australia in the first quarter of next year, not to present per se, but to listen directly to the needs of the SMB IT reseller and then not only that, but to return the following month with a plan of action based on the things that they have heard from us. If your not in an SBS User/Reseller group here in Australia then you might want to look at joining one – you can find your local group here.
One of the biggest passions of mine is the SBS / SMB IT Reseller community, not just here in Australia but also around the world. Ingram have committed to help us in Perth with facilities for starting an SBS/SMB IT Pro focused Usergroup – we hope to have the first meeting in February 2008. If you are interested in being part of the Perth SBS Group then please email me – [email protected] and I’ll ensure you get on the list for the invite to the first meeting.
It was great to see such high level support of the concerns that we were raising, and we obtained serious commitment from both John and Guy to seriously take action to improve the relationships with the SMB IT Resellers here in Australia.
I personally feel that they are serious about investing in the SMB IT Resellers and hope that you all will give them a fair go as they try to get into what it takes to be in our space. Time will tell and I hope that in 3 months we can do an update on where things are at with Ingram and the SMB IT Resellers here in Australia.
Thank you John for the chance to make a difference.
David Mackie says
To clarify the list of SBS Groups, there is no Canberra SBS Group. If someone wants to start one and fund it I will help them but as it stands there is no meeting group focused on SBS.
This is a really interesting article as I’m now in the land of Distribution and equally as keen to get this part of the channel kicking in and understanding the value of SMB. In the UK, the distributors seem to have settled into some degree of market sector ownership and we’ve got SMB. SMB is a tricky one to master because it’s so broad but the trick is to understand the overall landscape and go for the majority.
We’re looking at a Partnership Programme that can tie in all the disperate strands of partner ‘clubs’ and ‘buying groups’ that already exist.
Feedback from our recent Small Business Forum has shown that the SMB Community needs a combination of competitive pricing (although this isn’t as much a focus as it was before), good account management (both pre- and post-sales), strong vendor links so that we act as a value add conduit to the channel (training, unified marketing messages, resources), and with a keen hunger to do something different/remarkable to help encourage long-term relationships.
Happy to chat further on this as I believe that our UK experiences resonate with many other countries.
Tony Albans says
Wayne, I understand your desire to progress Disti relations in the SBS/SMB community, but put simply, Ingram Micro Mangement have a long history of errant behaviours when dealing with this Australian SMB segment.
Perhaps you have forgottent the culling process that took place not so long ago. Many SBS UG members have the letters they received from Ingram Micro.
Perhaps you have not been around long enough to remember the TechPac cull, where they forced smaller resellers to go through Sub-Distributors! I believe that the same decision makers, are now pulling the strings at Ingram Micro.
Could it be that Ingram are now aware of the actions of competitors, such as Dicker Data, that are a refreshing change to the arrogant behaviours of Ingram Micro.
It takes a lot more than a bucket of money, thrown at a heap of SBS groups, to get me to even consider Ingram Micro as an option. The only way to get the message across is to not purchase nor promote recalcitrant organisations.
Put simply, there is a lot to be UNDONE, and for many, the offers come too late, given the tight engagement model offered by Disties, ones without the history of abuse of the SMB Community!
Just for the record, I engaged with Angella Logan Bell, of Ingram, re the bundling of SBS boxes with relevant software, but that was before the cull!
Now I work at furthering relations with those Distis that truely wish to engage with us, not those that are responding to business lost to competitors!
Hope this helps to refresh memories.
Mike Hatfield says
We are currently IM resellers.
As Tony comments about culling we used to be a Tech Pac reseller until we were culled. Then we were an IM reseller until – oh yes that’s right – we were culled. During that 18 month period we found that IM could harldy ever get anything right or delivered on time.
Fours years on and we are again IM resellers.
I actually can’t think of a positive thing to say about them.
In no particular order:
1. They are more expensive.
2. As a consequence of 1 above we struggle to maintain the minimum quarterly spend level.
3. They are a lumbering giant with a poor response timeframes. We find it almost impossible to get email response the same day. When you do speak to them they give the impression of wanting to get rid of you as soon as possible.
4. Since becoming a reseller this time round they have struggled to fill an order correctly the first time.
5. Every Trend Micro order done though them has taken weeks (no exaggeration) to get filled and this is only after complaining very loudly to Trend directly. We used to do Trend Micro through ITx but moved to add to our IM spend level. We will being going back to ITx.
6. Perhaps not significant by itself but we find their website very hard to navigate. They use their own product codes and it is hard to work out what a particular product actually contains. There is very little in the way of description.
7. We are also resellers Vodafone through IM. Since the first day we have rarely been able to get either a prompt email response or talk to anyone when we need to. We ALWAYS get a call you back message that never to this day has called us back. We have complained about this to Vodafone directly.
So, IM are showing willingness to listen and are apparently wanting to ‘understand’ and assist the SMB reseller space.
In my view they have a lot ground to catch up and an enormous volume of goodwill to rebuild. A good start would be learning how to be efficient and accurate. Unless your employees understand how to provide customer service you are never going to be successful no matter how good or how well your company policy manual is written. It’s a cliche but good management starts at the top and unless IM can show that sort of leadership from the CEO down nothing is ever going to change at IM.
A good comparison is the retail competition between Coles and Woolworths. They both sell pretty much the same range of products at same price, yet over the last few years Woolworths has generated a clear lead over Coles in both volume and profits. A complete position reversal. Coles have been left scratching their heads as to how this has happened.
Good management, good customer relations, friendly staff, appealing stores and perhaps most importantly a public perception that Woolworths has ‘Fresher’ produce although in reality they probably don’t.
Three cheers for Dicker Data and Express Data.
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