I have a grump I need to get off my chest. I often hear VAR's complain that business 'is just so hard to find' and making a living is impossible!
As an ISV I get an insight into the relationship of VAR's and their customers. One common email conversation that I see goes like this:
EONE: Hi VAR - your customer XXXXX is due for Annual Maintenance
VAR: It turns out customer XXXXXX will not be renewing AEP
EONE: Oh thats too bad, can you tell me why that is - as the feedback is really important to us.
VAR: We do not know, they just said they do not use it.
EONE: Did you ask them why they made this decision?
VAR: No we did not
EONE: Did you ask them how they would perform this task now without that software?
EONE: Do you not see this as a valuable learning opportunity, or potentially a chance for you to get involved with their new process or new software?
VAR: That's not really my job!!
How is it possible that VAR can have such a bad relationship with a customer that they have no idea what their customers are doing, what software they use and why? How do they not know why a customer has stopped using certain software? How do they sell consulting services if they do not intimately know what is happening at their customer? What is worse is that there is someone that works inside a VAR that really does not care about making money and keeping customers happy!! When I was a VAR, and if I ever was again - every single person within the organization was required to watch for opportunities with each customer. Admin staff, Accounts Staff, consultants, project managers, account managers and Sales people were all required to always identify changes in a customers business, and opportunities to improve their business.
The term VAR (Value Added Reseller) is used for a reason. The VAR is engaged to Add Value. If the VAR is not Adding Value then they are simply a middle man that causes extra Admin for everyone concerned. I can live without Middle Men.
When a VAR is unable to demonstrate an ISV's solution on their own, and come to me to perform a demo - exactly what value is a VAR adding? The VAR should be helping to hang the entire solution together for a customer and showing them how it works. A VAR that simply says 'go and look at SmartConnect for your CRM to GP integration' is providing no more value than a google search! That's not Value Add. A VAR that says - "I have the perfect solution for you. What you need to do is XXXXX, but the things to keep in mind are XXXXXX as it can get tricky if you do not have clearly identified business processes. Let me get my guru John in next week to show you how it hangs together and fits in with you current process. It is going to cost you $20,000 if you include the services - but the benefit is going to be massive and make you so much more efficient." This is a VAR that is adding Value.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine last week that is the IT manager at a company that uses Dynamics GP. He had a consultant from a VAR come out to install eRequest (or a similar requisition management tool). eRequest was not something this VAR installed too regularly. The consultant who is charging $200p/hr turned up for the install and proceeded to open the install guide and work his way through step by step. When he got stuck around IE security and configuration, he asked the IT manager for help. So now the IT guy was teaching the $200p/hr resource how to do the job he was being paid for!! is that Value Add? He finished the conversation with me by saying 'next time I will just do the installs myself'.
My message to VAR's is to start adding value, real value. At eOne we are passionate that our software is presented by our partners brilliantly. This requires our partners to deliver top shelf demos, rapid and accurate installations, clever analysis and configuration and ongoing support. Watch out over the next few months on details of the eOne certification programme, and associated trainings that will help put all our partners onto the top shelf of Value Adding VAR's.