VARs Sales Optimism Surges To Two-Year High

Combined with CRN research data showing a more positive attitude among business executives when it comes to technology spending plans and a slowly but steadily improving economy, the survey results indicate that the long-awaited recovery in technology spending could be at hand.

CRN tracks sales expectations in eight different categories: desktops, notebooks, networking hardware, networking software, peripherals, storage, PC servers and Unix servers. Looking at these categories as a single group, sales expectations are at their highest level since December 2000.

Greg Zulli, president and CEO of master agent CarrierChoice, Bethlehem Pa., said his company's sales are warming up. "I compare it to Boston weather when you get a 25-degree day and it feels warm compared to single digits and below," he said. "It's certainly not 80 degrees in the sun, but it sure beats the heck out of single digits."

Bob Feehery, vice president of technology at consulting firm IDC, King of Prussia, Pa., said he also sees better times ahead.

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"We're noticing that clients that had become inactive or sporadic are starting to call us more often," Feehery said. "Some of it is because they're seeing new technology and want to talk about it. Based on our pipeline, either our salespeople are doing a better job or business is picking up."

CRN research data show that solution providers' sales expectations are also higher when compared with year-earlier levels, suggesting that VARs are becoming more positive about a longer-term, sustained recovery in technology spending.

Pete Busam, COO of Decisive Business Systems, a $5 million solution provider in Pennsauken, N.J., has seen his company's sales surge in the second and third quarters of this year.

Busam said he sees desktop replacements,including replacing desktops with notebooks,server overhauls and IP telephony as factors driving these sales gains, as Y2K warranties and leases expire. "Clients %85 [are] saying, 'Enough is enough, it's time to refresh my IT systems,' " he said.

He also cited several factors such as increasing technology outsourcing by businesses, easier financing and prompt payment by his customers, which make him optimistic

that this increase represents more than just a short-term burst in business spending.