TechSelect: Bigger and Better Than Ever!
For more than a decade, being a part of TechSelect, Tech Data's Premier Partner Community, has helped reseller members grow their businesses and optimize their opportunities in the channel. As dynamic as the IT business itself, TechSelect is an ever-changing entity. Last year, when Tech Data's Senior Vice President of U.S. Sales Pete Peterson took the reins, he steered the community toward a new, more aggressively profitable horizon and a well-rounded experience for all involved.
"TechSelect members are some of our most strategic customers respected for their business acumen," says Peterson. "I wanted to bolster the impact of this community by encouraging more engagement and creating greater opportunities for practical learning."
Tech Data's Director of Sales Planning Jackie Baron sums it up as, "It's imperative that our members and vendors feel this is an extremely valuable program; we hit the refresh button and it's made a significant difference."
In fact, the difference is apparent in the numbers. TechSelect members grew their businesses seven percent year over year in FY'11. And Peterson and Baron aren't stopping there.
Like the Three Musketeers
TechSelect is successful thanks to the collective trio of Tech Data, vendors and resellers working together. Each group brings to the table a wealth of knowledge and skills that can benefit one another for the greatest business growth.
"We have two sets of constituents in this community: our 400-plus reseller members and our 30-plus vendors who invest in the program," says Peterson. "We're finding new ways to provide both with greater ROI across the board."
According to Rory Sanchez, president of South Florida solutions provider SLPowers and TechSelect's Advisory Council president, establishing the ROI for vendors was intangible in the past. "We've put together the Vendor Relations Committee (VRC) and created a multi-year plan to measure our business success," he said.
To ensure vendors get the ROI they expect, the VRC has taken steps to help vendors differentiate themselves by providing opportunities for them to offer exclusive promotions and presentations for Community members.
"At the last two Partner Conferences, we were able to introduce the vendors in a whole new way to the Community through Vendor Panels," explains Peterson. "We've moved away from the speeds and feeds presentations to addressing the opportunities in the market whether it's a specific vertical or technology segment and helping the resellers better capitalize and build success."
In advance of the events, vendors receive critical feedback on their presentations to help them better align with their audience.
"Improving the presentations improves the overall experience," says Allan Walters, senior vice president of Saratoga Technologies and vice president of the TechSelect Community. "We ask them, 'What is your goal and what do you want to get out of TechSelect?' From there, we help vendors fine tune their presentations to meet their goals, therefore increasing their ROI because they're speaking to the right people about what they really want to hear."
The VRC also helps the vendors be more engaged in the Community, sometimes through indirect channels.
"The best-practice advice resellers receive at these events may have nothing to do with a particular vendor's products," says Walters. "However, if I increase my business by 20 percent with the skills I learned at these conferences, then I've also increased the businesses of those vendors I partner with."
Peer Interactions Make a Difference
What really makes the Community work are the peer interactions. Each member is invited to participate in conferences, Town Hall Calls, TechSelect University and a variety of other networking opportunities.
"When you sit in the room with a bunch of other folks that are in the same business that you're in, you know that we all have similar challenges," shares Sanchez. "You can meet people who have success at dealing with these challenges and get a first-hand look at what really works."
And Sanchez knows first hand about the benefits of engaging closely with your peers. As a veteran of the Community, he has had great success partnering with other resellers. "We've partnered with other TechSelect members to win deals ourselves or help them win deals. Working with other folks in non-competing geographies provides both parties with mutual benefits."
Spencer Ferguson, president of Wasatch Software, agrees. "What's invaluable is the real-world expertise members share with one another. Engaging with peer experts within the community enables those in attendance to get the real scoop on technologies, markets and trends," he says.
A Distribution Point of View
Tech Data's executive involvement gives resellers access to people who have a different point of view on the industry, and an insider look at distribution and the trends. "Finding out what they're seeing from their perspective enables resellers to get a more diverse view of the channel," says Sanchez.
Peterson and his team agree that sharing their perspective with the Community is mutually beneficial.
"Tech Data has a lot of new opportunities to share with TDMobility, Cloud Academy and StreamOne. And, with new technologies and new market segments entering the channel, our strategy is to provide the Community with the awareness, education and enablement they need to strengthen their businesses," Peterson explains. "This includes making them aware that these opportunities are out there, educating them on what Tech Data can do to help them be successful and enabling them by helping them apply this knowledge to their business."
Baron shared how this new strategy worked at the last conference in San Antonio. "We launched Xerox's e-concierge. Along with introducing this new service product, we also had Rich Chiarello, president of Above The Line Management Solutions, there to demonstrate and teach members how they could increase their market share by utilizing this tool."
Ferguson agrees that the awareness, education and enablement approach makes a huge difference in his company's success. "Learning from industry experts and getting the actionable items to take home helps us more effectively improve our services and be more profitable," he says.
It Just Keeps Getting Better
"Texas was a huge success, but Orlando will be even better," says Baron. "We're thinking outside the box and continuing to make changes that will be impactful as well as fun!"
And it doesn't stop there. Stay tuned for how the TechSelect Community is getting even bigger and better in 2012.
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