You can tell a lot about a company by the way they describe themselves. And when it comes to Value Added Resellers (VARs) of hardware and software, those descriptions separate the winners from the widget salesmen.
We conducted a highly unscientific survey of VARs large and small and almost without exception, the structure of their website tells you everything you need to know about their priorities.
- Lots of logos. See the parade of hardware and software products we represent.
- Engineering prowess beyond that of mortal men. We’re smart, you’re not, and that’s why you need us.
- Our prices are the lowest. Unless you can get it for less in which case, we’ll sharpen our pencil.
As a Healthcare Value-Added Reseller ourselves, let’s start with the not-so-obvious. Anyone can sell anything. Sure, manufacturers may require certain training and certifications but product knowledge can be learned. It’s not unique. As for cost, VAR size and the volume of your order can make a difference, but it probably won’t be enough for that post-COVID Tahiti vacation.
“I like to refer to what we do as being a value-added solution provider,” says Fred Mills, baytechIT’s Vice President of Sales. “If your reseller begins every conversation with ‘here’s what it costs,’ they don’t have your true interests at heart.” Fred’s been doing this stuff for decades after stints as Senior Director of Worldwide Healthcare Alliances and Business Development for data management provider Commvault, and Director, General Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise for Healthcare in the Americas. “When you’re out there looking for a relationship and a company to work with, you should put price aside (that conversation comes later). Focus on healthcare expertise and the knowledge they bring to the table about workflow and process. Price should only be the driving factor when you’re dealing with commoditized hardware.”
Ingram Micro is the global leader in technology and supply chain services and a company that sells and supports VARs all over the world. We asked Karl Connolly, Chief Technologist for Ingram Micro Enterprise Accounts, for his perspective on good VAR versus bad.
“A good VAR in my opinion is one that has strong leadership willing to make decisions that keep the organization evolving. In recent years this has meant making tough decisions to transform their organization and move away from the predictability of a traditional sales model into one that embraces services. Good means always learning and adding new technology and products to offer customers the best choice, has the best technology available to address a business challenge, and makes symbiotic partnerships to ensure that customers get the coverage they need.”
Connolly continues. “A bad VAR is one that is not willing to embrace new solutions or methods of doing business because they find it outside of their comfort zone. This can be very limiting for the client as these VARs typically try to force fit what they know to address a customer request. A VAR that is product-centric, not solution-centric, and looking to sell the latest and greatest tech, without offering an end-to-end solution that influences business outcomes, is doing its clients a disservice. VARs today need to partner to augment their skill set and those unwilling or reluctant to do so, limit the solutions available to their customers. Customers today want choice, flexibility, and agility. Being limited by an uninformed VAR can have very negative business outcomes for the customer.”
In the end, Mills and Connolly agree, saying it all comes back to experience. When selecting a resale partner, ask them if they’re vested and invested in the healthcare sector. Do they have a defined knowledge of the clinical nature of healthcare? Do they understand how infrastructure and technology tie in to an EMR or enterprise imaging system? Do they understand that this business is not about selling hardware and software, but about how technology can be used to enhance the patient experience, lower healthcare costs, and improve the work/life balance for our colleagues on the front lines of care?
When it comes to Healthcare VARs, buyers must look for the good, but beware of the bad and the ugly.