Synnex plans to expand its Varnex University program, a channel-based educational curriculum, after holding its first successful weeklong session in late March.
The second session is scheduled for the first week of June after its first session drew rave reviews from VARs, drawing interest from many more solution providers.
The March session was a "Sales 101" session for novice salespeople. Future sessions will repeat that curriculum but also expand to focus on more advanced sales training, as well as sessions around human resources, cloud sales training and more, said Bob Stegner, senior vice president of North American marketing for Synnex.
"I literally look at it as a college. We've already started to identify different classes that people want. This was the beginner one. One guy [who recently graduated] used to sell cars. He walked away truly understanding the IT channel, how to sell, how to put solutions together," Stegner said. "We're also looking for [classes] for more senior people. Go back to when managed services was just taking off. This would have been the ideal program for people to learn how to sell services [and not products]."
Tuition for the five-day session is $500, plus VARs must pay their own travel and expenses. Synnex pays for hotel rooms and meals.
"It's not really what it costs for us. We made some really good Synnex customers. Their success is contingent on what they learned going forward," Stegner said.
NEXT: Rave Reviews
Varnex University was first announced last November at a Varnex show, and the curriculum was designed with the help of Ryan Morris, principal consultant of Morris Management Partners, which specializes in channel training. Several vendors and Synnex staff also participated, Stegner said. Synnex also has a strong relationship with Anderson University in South Carolina to utilize "visiting professors," Stegner said.
The students worked from 8 a.m. until "late at night" and even had homework, Stegner said. Reports were sent to the owners of the VARs that sent salespeople. and a test was given at the end.
Michael Roberts, an account executive at Whalley Computer Associates, a Southwick, Mass.-based VAR, was one of the students who completed the weeklong course and agreed it was no vacation.
"I thought it might be kind of relaxing. I think I left more tired than I came," he said. "But I got overwhelming support from Synnex employees, and knowing the resources that are available will be a huge help in my career," he said.
Paula Smith, vice president at Advotek, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based VAR, also graduated and said it was worth the experience. "It was very interactive, very hands-on. We got to discuss sales challenges and got great, great feedback. I'm really glad I went," she said.
Several other VARs attending the Varnex show in Orlando planned to contact Synnex about future Varnex University sessions.
"I'm always looking for better training for my sales force. If I hear some of the testimonies, I think it's something we need to look at," said Glenn Fell, vice president of solutions at Flex Imaging, a Marietta, Ga.-based VAR.
Nathan Sanders, COO and vice president of Network Essentials, a Charlotte, N.C.-based solution provider, added that he's interested in sending some new salespeople to the Sales 101 session. "I'm encouraged by what I see. I hope it actually pans out, that it's something my sales guys would bring something back and get something from it."
PUBLISHED APRIL 17, 2013