Connecting SMEs with vendors

By Adeshni Rohit, Executive Product, Axiz & Terence Barter, Managing Executive Product, Axiz

Johannesburg, 15 Dec 2021
Read time 4min 10sec

The demand for using SME channel providers is unprecedented. Recognising that small, micro and medium businesses are key drivers for growth, various sectors emphasise using SME providers. For example, public sector procurement guidelines expect that at least 30% of available opportunities reach SMEs.

Many technology vendors are ardent supporters of this pipeline and run various SME-enablement programmes to help smaller providers access their products and sell those to the market. But, to paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, great plans often don't go anywhere on their own.

SMEs face several barriers that prevent them from adequately engaging with vendors. Distributors such as Axiz have long played a mediating role between the two spheres. As we evolve our business model to incorporate services such as cloud products, Axiz's role in the middle has grown substantially. In this press release, we will illuminate what we do to connect SMEs with vendors – not only to encourage you to contact Axiz, but also as a benchmark on what SMEs and vendors should expect from their distribution partners.

Helping vendors access SMEs

Distributors have taken up many responsibilities on behalf of vendors, which are keen to ensure they get committed partners willing to invest in the relationship. For example, numerous vendor partner portals require a reseller's distributor dealer code. Having such a code demonstrates that a reseller/solution provider is serious and not simply opportunistic.

Opportunism is an ongoing challenge for the channel. Some companies take a chance on a lucrative deal such as a state tender, so they quickly try to align with certain vendor partners to get the deal. But this can dilute the vendor's focus across its partner ecosystem, potentially neglecting dedicated and invested partners. To combat opportunism, vendors have a gauntlet of requirements that potential partners must navigate. Yet SMEs often lack the resources to overcome those challenges.

Delivery is another big issue for vendors. A partner must be able to deliver on a customer order and then continue to support that investment. Certifications play a crucial role in vetting such partners as they indicate competency with the vendor's technologies. But certifications are expensive to gain and renew, again leaving many SMEs out in the cold even if they have much to offer.

The third factor influencing vendor choices is opportunity, a slightly newer but significant issue. Today's technology market is far more robust and broad in product scope than before. Many specialist channel companies provide niche services and maintain close relationships with specific customers and sectors. For example, open source software houses are often close to financial services companies. Vendors would love to get proximity to those customers and seek to utilise specialist companies for that outcome. You can find many such examples of symbiosis in the market.

Thus the keys to connecting SMEs and vendors are reducing opportunism, ensuring delivery and facilitating collaborative opportunity. At Axiz, we refer to this as recruit, enable and grow. Specifically, we aim to identify, recruit, enable, grow, transform and digitise SME partners, aligning them with what vendors need.

How we recruit, enable and grow

Axiz pursues our SME strategy in several ways. We have an SME development programme, Ledibogo, and dedicated business development managers, focused on SMEs. Axiz invests considerably in certifications so that our engineers and consultants can support SME partners where they lack competencies, and we enable skills transfer to SMEs. Our development managers additionally support SMEs to expand their business acumen, such as project management or tendering processes.

Not all of our support is developmental. Axiz provides financial resources, as it is often a challenge for a small provider to match a vendor's fiscal benchmarks. Our SME partners can book Axiz boardrooms and demo areas to showcase solutions to customers. Our staff can support such engagements, presales meetings, site visits and solution designs while the SME partner remains on point. SME partners can also mix and match services and products on the Axiz Digital Platform, using that space to find collaborative partners for larger projects.

Ultimately, these engagements go much deeper than networking between SMEs and vendors. At Axiz, supporting SMEs is both a moral and commercial requirement. Supporting SMEs is crucial to growing the economy and reflects the needs of the channel's vendors and customers.

Axiz goes much further than facilitating a few meetings and coaching SMEs on vendor programmes. We recruit, enable and grow SMEs as an inseparable part of our business model.