Fifth Time's Still A Charm

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For the fifth year running, Samsung's display technologies blew away the competition in the 2007 VARBusiness Annual Report Card (ARC) survey.

Samsung earned an overall score of 71 in the product category, besting its closest rival, ViewSonic, by five points.

Samsung won the top spot in all three subcategories: product innovation, support and partnership, coming in with its highest score in product innovation, where it led ViewSonic by a full eight points.

In product innovation, which includes quality and reliability, compatibility and ease of integration and marketability criteria, Samsung scored well above the category average of 69, coming in with 77 points. ViewSonic trailed with 69 and Acer with 61.

Solution providers say Samsung simply produces better products.

"Our experience with Samsung displays is that really the quality of the displays is better than that of the competition," said Brent Morris, director of sales at Success Computer Consulting, a Golden Valley, Minn.-based solution provider.

Morris said that from a price standpoint Samsung may not always be the lowest, "but for a company like us, we sell equipment based on its value to our clients and the total cost of ownership of that equipment, as well."

Morris said when his customers choose their displays only considering price, it's not uncommon for them to end up having product quality and reliability issues that the VARs have to address down the road.

While he agrees that Samsung makes a higher-quality product, Michael Milligan, purchasing administrator at Computer Systems Plus, Knoxville, Tenn., acknowledges that sometimes customers choose other vendors based on price.

While it may not always win on price, Samsung did get the highest support and partnership subcategory average scores, coming in with 67 and 68 points, respectively. The average for support was 58 and the partnership average was 62.

Samsung launched its partner program at the beginning of 2007 with revamped training and education programs that included Web-based training courses, programs to help VARs acquire seed and demo units, and a tiered program that would reward partners based on sales volume. The vendor also added more sales reps to work with its reseller customers.

"I think it really resonates well with the partners," said Christopher Franey, vice president, sales and marketing for Samsung Electronics America.

Kevin Dolan, commercial sales rep at Adray Appliance and Photo, Dearborn, Mich., agrees that Samsung's customer outreach and training put it ahead of the competition.

"They take a little more effort to contact the dealers and they do Web seminars for training. I've seen a couple of these Web seminars and it really helps you understand the product a little bit more and differentiate between [competing products]," Dolan said. "There are a lot of brand names out there in monitors and Samsung is the only one that reaches out to the dealer and says here's why our product is better."

For Samsung, it's essential to keep the channel happy. The company will continue to adjust its programs to support resellers' needs, Franey said.

"As we evolve, so does our program and the channel is 100 percent part of our future. We're going to continue to listen to our solution providers, incorporate the voice of the customer and try to make those programs better and provide the tools they need to be successful to drive growth in their business," he said. "If we don't help our partners grow, we're not going to be successful. Plus the team here would very much like to go for number six."

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