With nearly 300 members on board, Tech Data plans to shift the focus of its SMB TechSelect program from recruitment to relationship-building, said company executives.
"The SMB market is a core Tech Data market," said Tim Curran, senior vice president of sales at Tech Data, during a TechSelect conference here last week. "The small and midsize VAR is where our roots are. These guys are important to us."
Tech Data plans to transfer management of TechSelect from its marketing organization to the sales group, and will add more sales resources to support solution providers, Curran said. Tech Data also wants to create more credit services opportunities, design more business administration tools and strengthen its core services, Curran said.
"TechSelect is ultimately the way for resellers to take this relationship beyond just fulfillment," Curran added.
Tech Data still plans to recruit TechSelect members, but will direct those efforts toward more vertically focused solution providers, such as companies serving the government or high-end networking markets. "By focusing on these vertical [segments, we can add more resellers and still respect their wishes about autonomy," said Curran.
In the past six months, Tech Data witnessed a "larger" number of solution providers file for bankruptcy due to Sept. 11 and a global recession, said Mike Seferyn, vice president of business development at Tech Data. In fiscal 2003, Tech Data plans to work more with solution providers regarding survival strategies and cost management.
TechSelect members say they are eager to take advantage of the opportunities that will come from giving the organization more of a sales focus.
"Sales is where the rubber meets the road," said Arnie Bellini, president of Tampa, Fla.-based ConnectWise. "And ultimately, we are the sales team for Tech Data."
Jeff Ross, president of Austin, Texas-based I.T. Marketing, concurred. "There's no doubt it will have a positive impact. As a sales focus, it's true business development."
Some solution providers were impressed with being able to talk with Tech Data executives face-to-face. "The relationship you can get here just meeting those guys . . . I was awestruck," said Bob Parsons, president of Evansville, Ind.-based Automated Office Solutions.
Still, TechSelect members said what helps them the most is sharing best practices without fear of competition with other members. "I look to implement something from this conference every time [I attend," said Sam Ruggeri, vice president of corporate solutions at New York-based Total Computer Systems.
Tech Data is planning additional TechSelect conferences in June and November.