Step-By-Step Storage Help

The STEPS program—which stands for Sign, Train, Engage, Promote, Sell—includes solutions from Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems and StorageTek, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based distributor.

The initiative helps solution providers develop relationships with the vendors by assisting them in signing with the manufacturer, training employees, building a demand-creation plan, executing the strategy and reviewing the results, said Phil Roussey, executive vice presi dent of enterprise marketing and sales at Bell Micro. "This [will] help vendors and resellers partner together to create demand in the local marketplace," Roussey said.

The distributor promises greater access to vendors' top-level support programs and details on how to earn benefits including co-op, MDF, demo equipment discounts, promotions and end-user leads, Roussey said.

Bell Micro also offers its own custom-storage services including design and engineering, project management, manufacturing, quality and end-of-life management and a call center for first-call support as well as field maintenance, field integration and installation services.

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The distributor expects the program to attract solution providers that do not have a storage practice and solution providers looking to add another vendor.

"You can do it the old-fashioned way—sign up some lines and try to sell them. But it makes a lot more sense to go through a tried-and-true business process that has all the elements, and you get [the] support of the supplier. I think it's an excellent way to do it," Roussey said.

The distributor piloted the program with about 30 solution providers, including VLSystems, which built a secure data practice around Hitachi Data Systems, StorageTek and Intransa, said Ed Ginty, executive vice president of business development at VLSystems, Irvine, Calif.

"The program ensured that our [vendor] partners remained proactively involved with our marketing initiatives to ensure the best return on their [and] our MDF," Ginty said. "Our secure data practice requires more from our distributors than just being a provider of hardware. The program offered a unique approach of partnering as a team with an organization that could help us craft the best end-user solutions touch for our clients."