The concept of selling solutions is nothing new to the IT channel. It is something that many vendors and distributors have been preaching about for many years. But, GE Access, a Unix distributor based in Boulder, Colo., wondered if its reseller network actually had the time and resources to really develop

and sell solutions.

What they found was its top echelon partners were selling solutions, but that mid tier to lower end resellers were not.

“”Everyone is talking about selling solutions but that’s too vague and rarely translates into action,”” said John Hines, director of corporate marketing for GE Access.

“”Vendors don’t specify selling concepts for solution. We are in a unique position and can do this on behalf of the resellers. Resellers do not have the marketing staff on hand and can’t take on these projects. We want to enable resellers to market themselves efficiently and the time was right to put tools out there that translated the vague concept of solution selling into real transactions,”” Hines added.

In an attempt to jumpstart the solution selling concept, the company created two selling tools, the GE Access Solution Selling tool and the Vertical Market Research tool.

The GE Access Solution Selling tool on a basic level has sales-ready explanations of each product , how it works, what it entails and how to sell it.

It also includes:

  • Business issues, by customer job title;
  • Pre-populated (but customizable) prospecting emails, by business issue and job title;
  • Questioning strategies (discovery, anxiety, problem, solution, and value questions) by business issue and by job title;
  • Customizable presentation slides, customer leave behind data sheets and thought papers;
  • Guidelines for setting competitive traps; and
  • Comparisons of the various products and services which make up the solution.

The Vertical Market Research tool is Sun Microsystems specific. Sun is one of the distributor’s most prominent lines.

This tool offers market information on Sun’s positioning and other market statistics, trends and opportunities in the five fastest growing markets in North America: healthcare, manufacturing, retail, life sciences and financial services.

Hines admitted this tool was to help Sun, which has been slumping in the past few years. However, he added that Sun business is picking up lately.

“”We want to drive the Sun business and make sure (the resellers) have all the resources. Certainly (Sun’s performance) is a factor here and with this tool it removes the time barrier and lowers hurdles (for the resellers),”” Hines said.

The biggest barriers for GE Access resellers in terms of selling solutions are the time to write and research proposals and gaining expertise in new vertical markets, according to Hines.

“”We found that (the resellers) were reactive after end user calls. It was all about fulfillment instead of flying in the face of what really happens with customers which is having to solve their business problems,”” he said.

“”(With these sales tools) we are trying to address this and put them into proactive mode.””

The GE Access Solution Selling tool is available exclusively to GE Access resellers. The Vertical Market Research tool is available to GE Access’ Sun resellers in CD format. Both tools can be found on the GE Access Web site at http://www.geaccess.com/solutions/resourceLib.html.

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