According to Mississauga, Ont.-based Westcon Canada’s
general manager Lynn Smurthwaite Murphy, the Connectivity Partner Program, which has been in place since 1993, has been revamped to include the recently-launched a marketing communications resource called MarketVision. She says it addresses resellers’ needs through branding, e-marketing and Web design, advertising and direct mail, marketing collateral and presentations, as well as training services.
The partner program also incorporates ServiceVantage, Westcon’s professional services offering.
“The Connectivity Partner Program involves Westcon and our reseller partner making a mutual commitment that’s based upon a set of agreed-upon goals,” Smurthwaite Murphy says.
“We define an action plan designed to achieve those goals. For our solution partners and our resellers that are willing to make greater commitments, there are additional value-added benefits.”
The first step is for Westcon to understand the reseller’s goals and challenges. That happens through initial information-gathering sessions involving executives from both parties.
The distributor and partner can then work together to tailor a business plan according to the partner’s needs.
“One partner might have multi-vendor involvement and it might include training,” she says.
“Another partner might just want to move into one area of the market, like education. That might involve a marketing/business plan around how we move that product out to their base.”
One of the benefits of joining the program is tailored logistics alignment, which according to Westcon, ensures priority access to the distributor’s inventory. This initiative takes care of product availability and component shortages, problems partners face every day.
The products Westcon distributes – networking and security solutions – tend to be complex, solution-oriented and require in-depth knowledge, so participants also get priority access to pre- and post-sales support for scenarios involving installation and integration. This includes priority access to Westcon’s executives and engineering teams.
Another benefit is custom training.
“The training funds for training are not as readily available as they used to be,” Smurthwaite Murphy. “But Westcon offers a variety of different seminars and custom courses; some of them are free and some of them are chargeable.”
In some cases, partners might be able to apply multi-vendor co-op or marketing development funds toward their training expenses, she adds.
“It’s all part of our philosophy of helping our customers be more successful and differentiate themselves from the competition. It gives them access to all our value add at a real partnership level. It’s a loyalty program, if you will.”
Westcon currently has seven heritage partners in Canada that will be participating, but Smurthwaite Murphy says the company plans to start actively recruiting more large and more strategic partners.
“It’s not a program for everyone but it’s definitely for our strategic partners, for those who are willing to commit to a deep level of partnership.”
One of those partners is Charter Telecom, an independent reseller of enterprise data products. Paul Chandler, Charter’s Victoria-based president, says his company has partnered with Westcon for five years, and he’s a pretty happy customer so far.
“We do a whole whack of business together each year and they work really hard with my organization to make sure it’s as seamless as possible,” Chandler said. “They’re creative at finding solutions when there are problems.”
Chandler said shipping, delivery or return issues might crop up on any day, but partnering with the distributor has helped his organization deal with those problems one at a time – which, in turn, provides a value proposition to his customers.
“At the end of day it’s my customers that pay the bills for the whole food chain that we’re engaged in. And Westcon doesn’t seem to lose sight of that.”