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How to Get the Most Value from Your Cloud Distributor

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Most resellers realize that cloud is in their future. Just look at any number of stats, like cloud planning and adoption (80% of enterprises in 2016) and the growth of software-as-a-service over traditional deployments (25% more for SaaS by 2020), and the need for cloud expansion becomes apparent.

Savvy resellers also realize it’s very difficult to build a cloud business on their own. The challenges are profound: figuring out which vendors to represent, developing cloud expertise, effectively integrating cloud into existing sales and logistics operations, and more.

Distributors can help with all these things. That’s why so many resellers are turning to distributors to jumpstart their cloud businesses. But signing on with a cloud distributor isn’t enough to drive success. You need to know how to maximize the value you’re getting from your distributor.

Here are some tips:

  • Work closely with your distributor

Like any relationship, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. As a recent Channel Partners study found, “resellers that have been most successful in making the transition to cloud are significantly more likely to be working closely with a distributor.”

Make sure you understand all the services your distributor provides in detail. And just as important, don’t be afraid to share your business goals, strengths and weaknesses. That’s the only way your distributor can gain the intel needed to effectively enhance and augment your team and your operations. 

  • Leverage your distributor’s technical training

A good distributor will offer a comprehensive set of training and technical certification programs. Even if you think you have enough in-house knowledge on certain topics, take the courses, read the materials. Your distributor’s training programs have been honed during years of working with hundreds of resellers and vendors. You’re likely to learn a thing or two, or more, that will be invaluable to your business.

And keep in mind that your distributor’s engineers can also augment your team, consulting on your behalf with your customers. This way, you can pursue new business more quickly and effectively support new customers. Distributors can also help you establish closer relationships with key cloud vendors, who can help shore-up your expertise.

  • Take advantage of their marketing enablement programs

Use your distributor’s demand-generation campaigns and activities to attract the right prospects, and tap its sales and engineering teams to help convert them to customers and grow accounts. Your distributor should also be able to provide analytics-based insights that help you identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, so you can make informed decisions about how to maximize revenue.

  • Pick their cloud sales brain

Cloud is a different animal than on-premises and physical product sales. You’re not tweaking existing models; you’re creating new ones. Seek your distributor’s advice on everything from how to build a cloud sales team (tip: hire a dedicated team and keep your legacy product rainmakers focused on their expertise), to how you price cloud-based solutions and build compensation plans (tip:  don’t add cloud quotas to existing plans), to how to compensate sales staff for recurring revenue services (tip: consider a monthly commission for the term of the contract).

  • Rely on your distributor to vet, select and manage cloud vendors

With so many new cloud services coming to market, from both established and emerging vendors, it’s virtually impossible for any reseller to keep on top of them. Choosing the ones most likely to meet your customers’ short- and longer-term needs and help you grow a profitable cloud business, takes a lot of resources, access to cloud intelligence and time – none of which resellers tend to have in abundance.

Pick a distributor you trust to identify and vet the best vendors so you don’t have to bear that burden or risk choosing vendors that won’t win you business or deliver the margins you need. And, by the way, managing those cloud vendors plus your existing vendors is no easy feat, either. Let your distributor do that so you’re free to focus on growing your business.

  • Have your distributor teach you how to sell solutions, not just products

Most customers want end-to-end cloud solutions, not components. Not all solutions are single-vendor monthly subscriptions. Some contain hardware components and endpoints. Many services and products are sourced from multiple vendors.

Make sure your distributor’s portfolio includes best-in-breed vendors that complement one another and, together, comprise ecosystems that enable you to sell state-of-the art solutions. Have the distributor help you tie the right solutions together for particular customer needs. And, just as important, have them teach your staff how to sell solutions, rather than just products, for cloud and hybrid environments.

  • Use your distributor to scale operations  

Imaging going through all the steps needed to build a solid foundation for a cloud business and then not being able to scale. What could be worse, right? Well, 67 percent of resellers say that customer demand for cloud services is outstripping their capacity. Don’t let that happen to you.

Make sure your distributor stocks and effectively handles hardware logistics, as well as the complexities of cloud subscription services – and then use those services. Your distributor should also offer a digital logistics system that enables you to quickly onboard customers and process orders, while controlling costs. Use it for order capture, fulfillment and invoicing for cloud and on-premises, as well as for consolidating billing for multi-vendor solutions. Otherwise, you’ll be bogged down with so many tedious, time-consuming tasks that your prospects may just end up going elsewhere.  

For more tips on how to get the most value from your distributor relationship, contact Westcon-Comstor at

Blog by Matt Karst, Senior Director, Cloud Practice, Westcon-Comstor