How to Pick a Distributor (if you’re a Reseller)

Author: Dean Vaughan
Choosing the right distributor can add tremendous strategic value to your organisation, yet so many integrators often fail to recognise this. The choice, when left to sales, is often based on relationships, and when left to buying, is based on price.

Yet far more value is attained from your distribution relationship with planning. Distributors, from my experience, were willing enthusiasts in this process as they strived to add value and differentiate themselves from their competitors.

With any external strategic decision it is important to firstly look inwards. Assess the type of organisation you are and your needs. Some simple questions to ask include:

  • Is your customer value proposition broad and rapid product access, software as a service or project implementations?
  • Do you plan to grow or move into a new technical specialisation such as unified communications and do you require access to engineering expertise to augment your skill set?
  • In which technologies do you specialise: security, server and desktop virtualisation, networking, or data centre implementation?
  • Do you have gaps in your service coverage or marketing skills?
  • Do you need to improve cash flows and profitability?

Now weigh the importance of each criteria, your need and rank them.
This clarifies what’s important to you.

You can review the distributors and assess their value proposition, services, vendor portfolios and technical specialisations to best address your needs. The good news is most distributors can’t wait to tell you about their vendors, technologies and services.

To ensure the information you get from the distributors is comparable, rewrite the questions you used to assess yourself to assess the distributor. Once you have the responses, rank them against the criteria you identified to match the appropriate distributor.