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Our journey to help the channel become stronger – Part 1

For the past 12 years, we have been implementing e-commerce solutions for VARs as part of their business infrastructure. We basically helped them to check price and availability in real-time; Generate electronic quotes; Buy and sell over one million products from all leading distributors including Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Synnex. We also helped them to integrate with their accounting systems, launch B2B and B2C web portals, and do loads of web marketing to drive traffic.

It was not enough. They demanded more and more for us. They asked for other tools and services that they needed such as – CRM, ERP, PSA, RMM etc. So, we started to learn what other successful VARs were using and built a short list that we would provide to any VAR upon request. In 2012, VARs again pushed us further by requesting that we do not simply send a list of tools, but tell them exactly which tools they should get for their needs.

VAR Office Suite was launched in May 2013 to meet this huge challenge. The mission was simple – provide an independent resource to help VARs, MSPs and ITSPs to find the best tools and services to run their entire business.

It took us years of fieldwork just to figure out what successful VARs, MSPs or ITSPs were using, what worked and what they really needed. In the end, it boiled down to roughly 30 moving parts with an even wider range of tools and services to get the job done. Actually, it takes 12 building blocks to make a successful VAR. We will be outlining these building blocks in upcoming articles. We have succeeded in the first phase of our mission, but we still have a way to go.

Most IT companies do not refer to themselves as a VAR. Some prefer the name MSP. Some like to be called an ITSP. Others go by Solution Provider or IT Consultant, and of course there are System Integrators a new term like “born in the cloud VAR”. In Australia, they still refer to themselves as Resellers. Regardless of what each likes to be called, we use the general industry term “VAR” to refer to any company who sells IT solutions to end-customers.

We are still finding new tools and building more partnerships. The quest has since become more exciting for us because we never knew just how many companies had developed such amazing tools and services for the channel. It was also rewarding to see that these vendors embraced the opportunity to collaborate with VAR Office Suite to bring the value to the channel in a joint venture.

Every tool and service from VAR Office Suite is from an independent vendor. There are no exclusivities for any vendor so we can remain brand-neutral. Some tools are connected and share data. As we evolve, more tools will be integrated, so it becomes seamless as we build the ultimate best-practice suite of tools. Each VAR can add only the tools and services that they need.

So far, we have 3 vehicles to present the opportunity to the channel:

1)   www.varofficesuite.com to showcase the various tools and services; provide a business self-evaluation test for the VARs; And, allow VARs to contact the vendors directly to see demos etc..

2)   www.varcoach.com to educate the VARs through the blog, weekly e-newsletter and the LinkedIn VARCoach Group (Please join the conversation!).

3)   www.vartrends.com to meet and provide practical training through virtual and face-to-face events.

Now that we have built the “oasis of water”, will we get the VARs to actually drink? Unfortunately many VARs still seem to be too busy working in their business instead of on their business. Our hope is that this way of thinking will eventually change. We are continuing to do lots of activities to help VARs make this change.

We recently launched a marketing campaign called “Door Hangers” to promote the message to the channel. Our first door hanger was distributed at a recent channel event… “DO NOT DISTURB, I AM BUSY IMPROVING MY BUSINESS”. At upcoming events, delegates will see it hanging on the door of their hotel room. You can scan it to go directly to the VAR Office Suite web site. You can take it back to your office to hang on your office door, then take a picture and send to us for a discount. We encourage everyone to hang it on their door whenever they do not want to be disturbed – especially when you are busy working on implementing VAR Office Suite tools to improve your business.