VARs Blast Lead Programs

"They stink," said Eryck Bredy, president of Bredy Network Management, a Woburn, Mass.-based solution provider that has worked with programs from Microsoft, Citrix Systems and Check Point Software Technologies.

Last week, the MOCA division of Arrow Electronics became the latest player to unveil a program for its Sun Microsystems-focused VARs, which comes on the heels of similar initiatives from Hewlett-Packard and Computer Associates International.

>> VentureTech members would rather see vendors spend their money on MDF.

In general, most leads seem to be generated by Web hits, and the quality is terrible, Bredy said. Often, they come from people who go online to upgrade their software and have already bought the product, or they come from people who lie when asked online about contact information before getting service from the vendor.

Even more insidious, Bredy said, is how vendors seem to hold on to their best leads as they do more business direct.

Sponsored post

The poor quality of these programs was a hot topic at Ingram Micro's recent VentureTech Network conference, where solution providers complained that few of the leads they get actually result in a hot sales prospect. VentureTech members said they

would rather see vendors spend money on market development funds or in other areas aimed at helping solution providers promote their own brand and solutions.

Doug Marlin, managing partner at Independent Technology Group, La Canada, Calif., said it is typical for vendors to promise leads to entice new solution providers. Vendors also send a lead to many different suppliers, making it difficult for solution providers to pursue.

"For commodity products, you may get leads where the vendor sends the price to the customer," he said. "Then you call the lead and find they already bought from CDW."

Some VARs say there are some lead programs that are successful.

Bredy admitted a vendor can be a good source of leads. "Veritas [Software] has decent leads," he said. "But that's not from their lead-generation program, per se. It comes from knowing people there."

John Riddle, president of solution provider Information Networking, Irvine, Calif., said he sees leads from the vendor as simply a bonus and not something on which his business depends. "If solution providers expect manufacturers %85 to do all the marketing, they're missing the boat."

Despite solution provider concerns, vendors fail to improve these programs.