VARs Feel Left Out
CRN poll finds segment less satisfied with vendors'
By John Roberts , CRN
here to read this article at crn.com
August 22, 2003 - Vendors that are revamping
their channel programs might want to listen more closely to small solution
providers, which hold strong opinions about where those programs are lacking.
Small VARs are more critical of vendor channel programs than large solution
providers, the monthly CRN Channel Satisfaction Survey found. Over the
four-month period from March to June 2003, small solution providers (less
than $5 million in annual revenue) expressed a lower overall level of
satisfaction with channel programs from Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft
than their larger counterparts did.
The study defines overall level of channel satisfaction as the percentage
of solution providers satisfied with channel programs minus the percentage
that are dissatisfied. And the difference was particularly striking for
For IBM's hardware channel programs, the overall satisfaction level came
in at 32 percent among large solution providers but only 26 percent among
small VARs, with 100 percent being the highest possible score. For software
channel programs, IBM's channel satisfaction rating was 35 percent among
large solution providers, compared with 28 percent for small VARs.
The trends are similar, but less dramatic, for Microsoft and HP. Among
large solution providers, Microsoft's overall channel satisfaction rating
was 40 percent, compared with 34 percent for small VARs. For HP, the figures
were 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
Small solution providers say major vendors often come up short in providing
them with the key tools needed for doing business.
The little guys don't have access to the tools, both technological and
marketing, that the big guys do," said William Hersh, a partner at
White Box Systems, Lemoyne, Pa. "Maybe if Intel, Microsoft or any
other major vendor would send out a marketing tools pack to their entire
enrollment,instead of just the big VARs,they would find more small VARs
singing their praises."
Marketing materials, especially those that are free, remain crucial to
small VARs. In a recent CRN poll, 65 percent of small solution providers
said marketing materials were "very important" to their profitability.
Yet small VARs aren't only dissatisfied with major vendors' channel programs.
Some of these solution providers feel that, overall, they just don't get
equitable treatment from big vendors.
"Vendors are apparently blind to the fact that their direct-sales
force, combined with a direct low-priced Web site, has now set a 'street
price' in the mind of the SMB customer," said Craig Carnahan, vice
president of Cybergear, Gilbert, Ariz. "When vendors start playing
games with price and availability, it creates such an [uneven] playing
field that most VARs have a hard time standing up."
Cisco Systems, however, got higher marks for overall channel satisfaction
from small solution providers. Its rating came in at 34 percent for small
VARs vs. 27 percent for large VARs. "Cisco has been focusing a lot
of effort on smaller VARs so they don't fall through the cracks anymore,"
said Alex Solomon, co-president of Net@Work, New York.