In drawing on the closing market overview remarks concerning the local mobility landscape, the Reseller News Roundtable - Magnifying mobility in New Zealand, how is the Kiwi workplace changing? - discussion evolved into how the channel can adapt accordingly, as a new type of partner emerges.
With a market under duress from digital disruption, the demand of change among Kiwi businesses heightens, as organisations seek deeper input from resellers.
As new technologies, devices and applications flood the mobility market, businesses in New Zealand now crave advice, recommendations and support, removing the need for a transactional approach.
But how, in a changing channel environment, can resellers earn the title of trusted advisor?
“We like to think we are but the honest answer is that there’s always someone out there who is bigger and better,” says Max Davies, Managing Director, Elite Business Systems.
“We operate in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga which are completely different markets. In Tauranga if you talk about cloud for example, customers run a mile as they don’t trust it and they believe data must be kept on-premise.
“But if you come to Auckland and try to sell a server, it’s a wasted venture as the market is heading to Office 365. It’s an education process that we are going through as a partner, but it’s also a timing issue and in time, other markets will catch up.”
The art of boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty remains a key challenge for resellers in New Zealand, with the struggle of transforming business models and sales approaches an ongoing issue in the channel.
While vendors and distributors spout the values of establishing a trusted advisor position within a customer’s business, in reality, creating a foundation of trust is an expensive and time-consuming effort for partners.
“Our reputation is to do the right thing by the customer and we are good at that,” adds Noel Jack, Director, Cyclone Computers. “But to do this we are required to have the right certifications over and over again, and have the knowledge base required to stay ahead of the curve.
“Finding the right person to deliver that message to the customer is a tough ask, as is finding the right person within a specific organisation to talk to.”
As Jack alludes to, in agreement with Davies, becoming a trusted advisor requires resellers to make a concerted and continuous effort, which is alien to the sales techniques that have been frequented in the market for decades.
“If you look at the sales people of today, compared to those of yesterday, there’s a huge difference,” he observes. “To be honest, our generation are becoming almost historic as a salesforce and that shift is impacting the resellers.
“From a devices perspective, New Zealand is an accepting market. But when we take customers overseas it is an eye-opener for them to see the sheer scale on a global level, which puts things into perspective.
“Yet my customer base look for the holy grail in terms of finding that one size fits all approach or solution, and that doesn’t exist. Customers are screaming for mobile strategy solutions but for the resellers, there’s an in-house cost to that. So do I back one horse as opposed to many?”
From a vendor perspective, the mobility channel play for partners in New Zealand is clear; add value.
While ambiguous in its delivery, partners still treating mobility solutions as commodities risk encouraging customers to form a similar assessment, with the “just another reseller” label a hard tag to shake off.
“As a trusted advisor, can you tell that story?” asks Jeff Morris - General Manager of End-User Computing, Dell Australia and New Zealand.
“Can your sales specialist articulate this to the customer? Our role as a vendor is to fundamentally help you tell that story and help you have that boardroom conversation.”
As today’s channel becomes more competitive, the importance of differentiation grows for resellers, but as Davies explains, challenges still remain at a local level.
“Yes we need the help of the vendor, but the challenge of being a resellers for 28 years is that everyday a new reseller pops up,” Davies adds.
“We’ve been in the game, worked hard and paid the dollars yet struggle to compete against the upcoming partners.
“We engage with customers and leverage our Gold Partner statuses with vendors, yet the new partner walks in and offers to do the work for five percent less, and they already know and understand the product sets.
“We have committed to vendors from our side but we need the support of vendors in return, there’s no protection in that sense.”
Change of approach
For partners engaged in a daily fight for relevance in New Zealand, irrespective of size of stature, a change of approach is required, as businesses hone in on the “value” aspect of the value-added reseller offering.
“Whether we like it or not, the entire industry is in transformation mode,” observes Andrew Fox, Director of Business Mobility, VMware.