The concept of the Value Added Reseller (VAR) has been around in the IT world for as long as IT. The concept of a VAR is really simple and straightforward: Take a product or service and add additional value in way that could not be realized without that value. This is, and always has been, intriguing to organizations and something they take advantage of when there is—wait for it—perceived value.
Gone are the days where only selling an IT product to customers exemplified value. Most of the technology (hardware and software) that is procured for corporate IT purposes today is looked at as just tools. Tools to help the company be better at what they do, but just that, tools. Like many other components needed in the corporate world, technology can be ordered, procured and delivered in a way that shows little value. Like or not, organizations perceive ordering technology as they do ordering pens from their office supply store, just ordering supplies. It's pretty harsh, but true.
The technology that VAR's sell—while important—is becoming commoditized more and more each year, with the only exception we see being higher end server, storage, and software systems. But as time goes on, even these will be perceived more and more as commodities, especially with the advent (and some say onslaught) of Cloud Computing. So being able to sell and provide technology well is nothing unique: It's become a me too thing, or a barrier to entry for VAR's. It's expected that a VAR will sell the technology well, if not why would you even consider working with them? But what do they offer that goes above and beyond just selling technology? What services, subject matter expertise, or industry insight do they provide? How do they help you improve and provide you knowledge around what you do not already know? This is where true value is.
And you want to hear the simple truth from a VAR perspective? Well established VAR's do not want to work with customers that just want to buy what they have to sell. They want to work with customers that understand, appreciate and take advantage of all of the value they have to offer. That leads to yearslong relationships in which the customer and VAR do not take each other for granted and truly form that overused of words in the business world: Partnership. At Vicom, for example, we are very proud to say that we are looking for customers, not transactions. If customers want to only purchase technology, there are lots of ways to do that, but if they are looking for value they need to work with someone like Vicom. It's a huge distinction and a big differentiator for exceptional VAR's to their customers.
Here's the thing that all IT departments fundamentally know and understand: The relationship with a good VAR and particularly with their people can be critical to IT success. Need something done? Call John at our VAR. Can't figure out how to do? Call John. Not sure what should be done? Call John. Call John, he'll take care of me, he'll get it done. A good VAR is invaluable and if you have such a relationship with a VAR, you know that your VAR is part of your team.
I contend that in this dynamic, crazily changing IT world, a strong VAR relationship can be the secret weapon to help you be successful and make you look like a hero within your organization. And I don’t really need to say it, but we all know that the converse is also true. A good VAR has been through what you are looking to do or the challenges you are experiencing many, many times. The VAR will know how others have found value or worked through those same situations and challenges and help you through it. That's what a good VAR does.
So if you are working with a good VAR, and have good relationships with the people at that VAR (and it's always about the people and the relationships isn't it?), make sure you let them know of the value they bring to you and, in return, demand they provide value to help you be successful. And the value needed in the past is probably not the value you need today. A good VAR will know that and continually provide you with the value you need (if not find new VAR's) but only if you demand it in a way in which you will both benefit. So demand value from your VAR's, and they will be more than happy to provide it. And that's value that we can all use.