How to create a customer for life in a channel-centric value chain
Working closely with the reseller channel is an important part of being a distributor, explains Johannes Groenewald, GM of Tarsus Distribution. In fact, he says, Tarsus encourages its resellers or rather channel partners to move beyond the traditional concept of merely selling hardware to the end-customer, to transforming themselves into trusted advisors in the technology domain.
“We are happy to work closely with our innovative partners to assist them to fulfil such a role, allowing them to leverage our skills and experience for such a purpose when required.
"The key to being a trusted advisor is to focus on how to help your customer grow their business first and foremost, rather than on how you can increase your own profit margin,” he suggests.
“So, for example, if a customer is seeking a hardware refresh for their fleet of PCs, in a situation where a traditional reseller might recommend buying a range of new machines, a trusted advisor would first consider the possibility of upgrading and refurbishing the existing equipment.”
In other words, they could look to upgrade older hard drives to solid state drives (SSDs) to improve the performance capabilities and enable the use of more modern applications on older generation devices. Another option might be to replace the battery and upgrade the RAM. And, he notes, with Tarsus Distribution having Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft among the PC vendors it works with, the channel partner has access to the world’s most well-known brands.
“The secret to being seen as a trusted advisor lies in skills and experience. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that your team obtains as many relevant certifications as possible. This encompasses everyone in the team, from sales to technical support, since if your people understand these products intimately, they can sell them more easily, and bring more insightful knowledge to the technical support role.
“We have had instances before where a channel partner approaches us for a quote on a particular machine, but when we ask what the customer wants it for, they have no idea. It is crucial to identify what the device will be used for, in order to prevent the client over-specifying or, even worse, under-specifying their hardware. With the right certifications, you can ensure the customer gets exactly what they need, without wasting money. Moreover, obtaining relevant certifications is simple, as there are numerous vendor programmes that they can subscribe to for free – the only cost is time, while the benefits are enormous.”
Groenewald adds that a trusted advisor knows the correct questions to ask to determine the exact customer needs. He suggests partners check the specifications required for the job to ensure the client receives the right equipment and ensure that appropriate advice is given around upgrades and customisations. They should also advise around issues like extended warranties, for the purpose of business continuity.
“As a trusted advisor, you may ask how you get the best advice to your customer, while also understanding their unique requirements. I would say start with a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that can help you to profile your customer base, understand clearly what their needs are and assist them with these unique needs, without pushing product down their throats.
“The key here is to shift from the box dropper mindset – through improved certifications and upskilling – and instead seek to form a true partnership, one where a clear understanding of the customer’s exact needs means you are able to meet their requirements, while saving them money and offering them sound long-term advice. This approach is a key factor in securing a customer for life,” concludes Groenewald.
We invite any channel partners or businesses interested in becoming trusted advisors to their customers, consequently securing long-term business from their customers, to engage with us by visiting the Tarsus Distribution website.