Whether Vendor Or Customer, There's No Need To Fear: Underdog Is Here!


Leading By Example: Integrity


For those of you as old as me, let me take you back to a time when life was simpler. A time when good always prevailed over evil. A time when a friend was a friend, and the Saturday morning cartoons were clear in holding up examples of moral character.

One of my favorite characters was Underdog. He was a member of the working class. Just like my brethren in the channel. Underdog went to great lengths to fix problems. Just like solution providers. As a shoeshine boy, he was a mere mortal. But when he went to work as Underdog, he was capable of leaping tall buildings. Just like a VAR solving a business issue with technology solutions. More importantly, Underdog never left you hanging, and he always won. Just like the channel.


ROBERT FALETRA Can be reached at (516) 562-7812 or via e-mail at rfaletra@cmp.com.

What many manufacturers still don't understand is the channel is the quintessential underdog. It has been written off more times than I can count. It is often underestimated.

But vendors who discount the channel run a grave risk of paying the ultimate price of losing market share. The channel is on the upswing right now. It is where market share gains will be made in the next 12 months. Almost all the solution providers I've talked to over the past month have said they are booking more business than they have seen for the better part of a year. The reasons are many.

There is no doubt that with the cutback in IT staffs, there often just aren't enough internal resources to take on new projects. The other reason outsourcing is on the rise in this environment is that no company in its right mind is going to add IT staffers until it is sure the business outlook is solid. Even then, it is unlikely that we will see the numbers of on-staff technical experts grow to the levels we saw in the late 1990s.


'Just like a VAR solving a business issue with technology solutions, Underdog never left you hanging, and he always won. Just like the channel.

We also know that solution providers go into every deal with one thing in mind,to do right by the customer. That's not to say they have no prejudice toward certain products, but any bias is not based solely on who is signing the paycheck. How many vendors with so-called consulting services go into an account willing to recommend, sell and service the best products even if a competitor makes those products? Not a single one.

Over the next year, the efforts by major vendors to move in the direction of direct sales will result in them losing, not gaining, market share. Sales, general and administrative costs will rise, and their margins will fall. Working with the channel would get them much farther in the long run.

Next time you're tempted to write off the channel, sit back and sing this to the Underdog cartoon theme tune. If you are too young to have seen it, turn on The Cartoon Network at 8:30 p.m. Saturday evenings or go to Google.com and search for the WAV file. Here is my rendition of the lyrics:

When Criminals To The Channel Appear
And Sell Direct Then They Should Fear
The Frightening Scene Of Shifting Share
As Channel Players Sell Products Far And Near
It's Underdog, Underdog!
Sales Of Lightning, Service Of Thunder
Fighting Direct Sales That Will Plunder
Underdog, Underdog!
When CRN's Top Headlines Read
Of Vendors Who Are Filled With Greed
Who Rob And Prey On Customers' Need
To Right This Wrong With Lightning Speed
Goes Underdog, Underdog!
Sales Of Lightning, Service Of Thunder
Fighting Direct Sales That Will Plunder
Underdog, Underdog!

Make something happen. I can be reached at (516) 562-7812 or via e-mail at rfaletra @cmp.com.