System builders have to focus on their buyers if they want to remain profitable, an Intel Corp. executive has warned the channel.

They “”need to understand who they are marketing to first and that they are not marketing to the wrong customer,”” Jake Tatel, district sales manager Intel’s computer

sales group, said in an interview at last week’s biannual Intel Channel Conference Toronto.

At the conference Intel presented a tool set to aid resellers in identifying customers. He estimated that 80 per cent of Intel’s dealers need this tool to sell into this segment.

At the event the chipmaker told hundreds of Ontario-based system builders about its ongoing investment and commitment to the channel, including its recently launched small business campaign.

“”We’re enabling the channel to take advantage of this lucrative market over the coming years,”” said Tatel.

The event marked the end of the month-long promotion of its Intel Channel Small Business Solutions Campaign with a pair of meetings for the channel.

Now in its eighth year, ICC Toronto attracted between 700 to 800 registered system builders and resellers – the largest draw in North America.

The campaign has three goals: Help resellers educate small business on benefits attained through technology; teach them new ways to reach and segment the market; and show them how to build hardware and software solutions, both Intel-based and non-Intel-based, that are customized for small business.

The Intel Small Business Solutions Sales Kit that Tatel referred to helps resellers develop solutions that meet the technical and business needs of small business customers. The four-step sales approach is based on technology sophistication segmentation and business functional segementation models developed in conjunction with the Small Business Technology Institute.

The first step utilizes the former model to help resellers determine the customer’s technology level (one being the least sophisticated, and three being the most sophisticated). For example, a level one customer has no or very limited use of technology. In that case, the reseller would step in and “”create awareness”” or make the customer aware of the business areas where technology might help them.

Step two employs the latter model to help VARs understand the five business needs (finance, marketing, operations, productivity and management) of any small business. For instance, under finance resellers look at how the customer deals with accounting, bookkeeping, forecasting, banking and payroll.

To aid them with this process, partners can download a training video titled, “”Selling Technology to Small Businesses: Ten Techniques for Long Term Success,”” and other material at www.intel.com/go/smallbusiness.

The next step is a small business technology assessment and resolution tool, which is provided in the kit or is available online at www.intel.com/go/start. The automated tool guides system builders through a series of questions on several business areas to help them determine which technology solution best meets these needs.

The final step provides resellers with 15 solution flyers that they can take to customers. There is one solution for each business area and at each technology level. For example, a level three-finance solution would be integrated enterprise resource planning.

David Allen, Intel’s North American distribution sales manager, said the Canadian division is looking at working with its distribution partners such as Tech Data and Ingram Micro to deliver these sales tools to system builders in 2005.

Andy Szego, president of Premiere System Solutions, said up until now, Intel hasn’t had a formalized plan for resellers to go after small business.

“”(Intel) has been preaching approaching small business for the longest time,”” said Szego. “”Now (Intel) has provided more training tools and collateral to make it more viable.””

Close to 70 per cent of the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based system bulider’s total revenue comes from the small and medium business market segment, said Szego, adding he has one major client that’s around 800 to 900 seats.

Szego said the campaign is a good concept and it was necessary. “”Some of my sales reps have a great deal of difficulty tailoring a presentation to the level of sophistication or technical savvy of the customer,”” he said. “”This helps us focus the presentation better to the customer’s technical capabilities.””

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