Avnet Launches Service To Create Business Plans, Sell Vertical

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Avnet Technology Solutions is launching a new engagement service with VARs in which the distributor helps create a complete business plan and strategy to sell into a vertical market.

The SolutionsPath Engagement Service is a fee-based initiative, with costs depending on the scope of work involved, and designed to make VARs more attractive to end users seeking IT solutions in banking, energy, government, health-care and retail markets, said Gavin Miller, vice president of solutions marketing and development at Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas.

"It's a consulting service designed to grow partners. It started off with us looking at where growth is happening. Avnet has a lot of resources at our disposal. We're constantly monitoring the market and working with various points of data and can do that market analysis on a larger scale than VARs can," Miller said.

SolutionsPath Engagement Service starts with a business analysis phase. Avnet has more than 50 experts in vertical markets to help VARs figure out how to structure the business and begin positioning their services to a specific market, Miller said.

Second, comes a strategic planning session in which Avnet works with the VARs business owners over several sessions to determine a plan to identify where further resources or investment is needed.

Third, Avnet will help the VAR train sales and technical staff to drive the plan, Miller said. Then Avnet will do customized demand creation for partners with a goal of shortening sales cycles based on opportunities it has identified in the market.

Finally, Avnet can provide data center lifecycle services and other resources to help a VAR augment its bench until its internal resources are more experienced or in place, Miller said.

"[End user] business owners are the ones making the technology decisions but a lot of our VARs were grounded in the notion that you had to have great relationships with the data center guys, not the business leaders," Miller said. "How do you get an appointment with the business leader and talk to him in his language vs. the IT leadership team?"

Christian Franklin, managing partner at TamGroup, San Rafael, Calif., said Avnet helped his company focus on health care after going through a a health care engagement with the distributor.

"We've always had some degree of vertical focus, but what Avnet has done is put building blocks around that and we can backfill our capabilities with not just technology but also industry expertise. It's a good way to get a smaller organization to get a bit more leverage that a much larger organization would be able to build out," Franklin said. "Anytime we look at lanching into a different segment, whether it’s a product segment or an industry segment, we go down that same path [with Avnet]. Now we have a common set of metrics to make adjustments against as opposed to just winging it."

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