Stories by Spandas Lui

Tandberg to launch new channel programme

Tandberg Data has revealed plans to revamp its global partner programme. The data protection vendor wants to shake up its current channel programmefor a more targeted, solutions focus. “We want to make it more valuable to our distributor and reseller partners and continue to grow the channel,” Tandberg Data Asia-Pacific vice-president, Bharat Kumar, says. “We will do this by giving more channel support through a new global program that is flexible to local requirements.” The new scheme is still a work in progress but Kumar said it will cater to each country. “Criteria may vary from country to country such as in revenue and so on,” he says. “We want to make it comfortable for the partner so they value the programme and won’t see it as a ‘one-size-fits-all’.” The vendor recently shifted its focus from traditional tape storage technology to encompass new types of products such as virtual tape libraries and network-attached storage (NAS) devices. It mainly targets the SMB market through the channel. With its new business strategy, Tandberg Data intends to market its products as a solution rather than just hardware components, Kumar said. The vendor is interested in recruiting value-added resellers (VARs) and system integrators to complement its solutions-based approach by offering additional and complementary services and maintenance. The company is also looking at targeting specific verticals such as healthcare and the public sector.

Oracle overhauls partner programme

Software giant, Oracle, has given its global partner program a facelift. The company first formalised its channel program in 1997 and launched its Oracle Partner Network (OPN) portal in 2002. Through internal development and acquisitions, the vendor has grown its product portfolio significantly and wanted to provide more differentiation between partners that focused on various product areas. “The partner community has grown quite expansively over the past few years and a lot of partners want to get involved in the breadth of the product offerings we have, so we really needed to revamp the program to allow them to get access to information and help the partners develop their business in those offerings,” Oracle strategy, key partner program and infrastructure vice-president, Mark Shapcott, says. The revamped OPN introduces 35 product specialisations in areas such as business intelligence, database and applications. Shapcott said by the end of the fiscal year, Oracle planned to increase that number to 50. OPN has four tiers: entry level, silver, gold and platinum. Specialisation begins at the gold tier. Partners that want to be accredited will need to sit a competency assessment online. Knowledge on each of the 35 categories can be accessed through OPN online portal’s knowledge zones. Once a partner passes an assessment, it will receive a recognition logo in its chosen field. “This give branding, recognition and creates a profile for other partners in OPN, for customers and for Oracle so we can be confident in working with them,” Shapcott says. Once a partner gains five or more specialisations, it will be promoted to the platinum tier. Oracle has more than 22,000 partners worldwide. They include resellers, system integrators and independent software vendors (ISVs).

WhiteGold enlists nCircle

WhiteGold Solutions has signed on US security compliance and auditing vendor, nCircle, to increase the breadth of its portfolio in the ANZ enterprise sector.

Lousy sales skills costing IT retail industry A$1 billion

The IT and consumer electronic industries are afflicted by poorly trained sales staff, which is costing Australian retailers more than A$1 billion in missed sales, according to performance analysis firm, Grass Roots Group. In a survey titled Are you being sold, 1400 mystery shoppers tested consumer electronics and IT retailers in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. The company tried to ascertain how effective sales staffs across the sector were at selling a particular electronic product from a list of 14 assigned brands including Sony, Canon and LG. According to its findings, 30 percent of salespeople neglected to ‘close’ the sale or asked the customer whether they would like to purchase the product. Around 77 percent did not cross-sell complementary products, and 20 percent did not approach the shopper at all. Australia was at the lower end of the spectrum, with only 10 percent of mystery shoppers finding services beyond expectations. Twenty percent of shoppers said services barely made the grade. And despite having strong product knowledge, almost 30 percent of surveyed staff failed to close the sale, while 79 percent forgot to up sell with complementary offerings. The saving grace for Australian sales employees was their friendliness. Grass Roots reported 75 percent of shoppers rated their salesperson as good to excellent, compared to the regional average of 56 percent. Overall, the country outperformed its peers in the region and was better at determining customer needs. In a statement, Grass Roots Asia director, Steve Hibberd, said the results showed a general lack in fundamental sales skills that was losing the sector millions of dollars. “As much as I’d be concerned if I were Canon, LG or Sony, I’d probably be a lot more concerned if I were one of the major electronics retailers,” Hibberd said in a statement. “Millions of dollars are literally walking out of their stores due to the lack of some really basic sales skills. Even in a fast food restaurant, I get asked if I want fries, but these relatively big ticket sales aren’t attracting anywhere near the same level of discipline.” Hibberd told ARN a number of factors contributed to the lacklustre results including poor wage and shortcomings in staff training. “Retail salespeople are fairly low paid in the Australian marketplace and are too often not provided with a reason to engage or growth path for them to invest their mind and energy to become the best they can be,” he said. “Retailers could do a better job of engaging, educating, training, recognising and rewarding staff for behaviour that will maximise customer opportunity and grow their business.” Vendors could also collaborate with retailers to help developing skills for sales staffs. “There is a huge focus in brand manufacturers and their relationship with retailers but not enough of that flows down to the actual retail salespeople,” Hibberd said. “So brands can help in training, rewarding and recognising staff to help retailers with funding and content to enable that, which is not done to a large enough degree at the moment.”