Alternative Technology, a distributor of Citrix and thin client solutions, maybe firmly based in North America but its is taking a page from several European-based distributors with their latest training and certification offering.

According to William Botti, president, COO of Alternative

Technology Inc., based in Englewood, Colo., European distributors are more knowledge based than most North American distributors and Alternative Technology is trying to change that dynamic and become more of a European styled distributor. One way Alternative Technology has changed is that they are providing more VAR education in the form of travelling training classrooms.

Alternative Technology has four classrooms in each of its facilities in North America (Denver, San Marcos, Calif., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Toronto) along with three mobile classrooms that can go anywhere.

With the mobile classrooms, a Calgary-based VAR, for example, can sell an entire classroom for customers’ internal IT staff to get them up to certification for Citrix or Packateer, Botti said.

And, last month one of those travelling classrooms went to Fairbanks, Alaska, he said.

Last year Alternative Technology conducted 68 different classrooms in North America for VARs at around 20 to 30 per cent margins for the channel.

Botti expects this area to grow by 30 per cent this year. In the last 60 days about one third of all classes have been done through the use of Universal Vouchers, he said.

“”The principal of a business is a bottom line person. However, the customer is interested in getting that one per cent cheaper deal at Ingram. Then the sales rep only cares about moving the product and not the program. It is the principal or the owner of that business who we need to get in front of. It will be the owner who will say to his people if Alternative Technology is close to within one or two points buy it from them because he will understand the bottom line,”” Botti said.

Terry Sedgley, regional manager for Alternative Technology Canada in Mississauga, Ont. doesn’t see the same clip level growth in Canada as in the U.S., but is encouraged at the amount of VARs using the vouchers for their own internal use.

“”Also the vendors themselves are trying to clean up the channel and limit the number of VAR who eat their young and make it harder for VARs who don’t make price an issue. If price is your only value then you will be out-valued by those who do,”” Botti said.

“”Manufacturers are helping in that way. It is almost like a two-by-four hitting them over the head. If you can’t get trained and support the product then you can’t have it,”” Botti said.

With Alternative Technology’s Customer Partner Program, a VAR will receive a Universal Voucher for every $85,000 in purchases from the distributor. These vouchers can be used for training sessions for engineer’s travel to and from the classes, customer training and certification, on-site engineer days and market development funds.

Vendors involved with this program are: Citrix, Packateer, WatchGuard, Sonicwall, Secure Computing, Expand, Tarantella and Alvarion.

“”If a VAR sold a Citrix solution to Hydro One in Toronto they would get around three Universal Vouchers, which they can resell back to Hydro One for $2,295 each and pocket the entire amount and make 100 per cent margin,”” Botti said.

He added that this program could also be used as an incentive. Engineers can be sent to any location. “”So if it is wintertime in Toronto you can send them to Fort Lauderdale or San Marcos. If they like skiing send them to Vail, Colo. (Denver)””

The Universal voucher can also be used for internal engineers to learn more about security and build on their practice, Sedgley said.

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