For the last five years, Avnet Technology Solutions has been taking a higher education model with the various paths under its SolutionsPath program, providing SolutionsPath University programs that help solution providers with education on targeting hot verticals (government, healthcare, retail, energy) and growing technologies (virtualization, networking, storage.)
But with the launch of a series of new consulting services, it’s augmenting its Universities with some private tutoring. Under its new SolutionsPath Engagement Service, the distributor intends to help VARs choose the best opportunities for their businesses and build practices in those areas.
“This is the next level of helping partners grow into the markets they want to align with,” said Gavin Miller, vice president of solutions marketing and development for the Americas at Avnet. “It’s the latest step in the continual innovation around our solutions distribution approach.”
First, a quick introduction to the program from Miller and Avnet Canada general manager Brian Aebig. Then join us after the jump for full details on the new service.
The service represents a long-term relationship between the VAR and Avnet, starting with what Miller describes as “a very deep business analysis,” using the transactional data Avnet has on its partners to determine opportunities. Data to be analyzed including geographical focus, vertical focus, product segments, and where the solution provider gets the best attach rates.
“This is a bunch of workshops with senior leadership of [partner] organization to drill down and decipher what’s been going on over a period of time.”
Out of that process comes a strategic plan that helps the VAR align to key strategies, looks at sales and structure issues in the reseller’s organization, and from there, builds a sales and marketing plan to execute on.
“We help identify areas they should invest in, and then put together a detailed training and enablement program and use our resources to help them close any skills gaps,” Miller said.
The program continues with a lead-generation plan, and then the cycle repeats – the new practice drives additional transactional data, which can be used in term to drive a refined program.
Miller said the program is intended to be a long-term relationship – built over the first 90 to 180 days, but ultimately representing a multi-year commitment.
“We set up milestones from there, and act as a board of directors with the partners to make sure they’re achieving the results they want.”
To use a different analogy, Miller describes SolutionsPath as like a gym membership. It provides the tools the target audience needs to accomplish the goal. The Engagement Service adds the element of a personal trainer, helping the solution provider customize the program to their needs, identify strengths and weaknesses, and bringing in additional help in terms of specialists that the VAR might need to reach goals. And of course, there’s another way the gym membership analogy holds up.
“You still have to do the work, though,” Miller said. “It’s shared resources and shared rewards, but the partner really has to commit to this process to achieve results.”
The program is a for-fee service, and Miller said the cost of the program to the solution provider can depend wildly depending on the solution provider’s size and existing processes and practices, as well as how many service resources Avnet has to bring in to help the solution provider get up and running.
Miller said the best partners for the practice are solution providers who are “committed to growing their business, have a solution approach, and have some sort of practice mentality already in place.” The size of the partner involved does not matter as much as does “how they present themselves in the market,” Miller noted.
As has been the case with many of the SolutionsPath programs, the program is available to partners in both Canada and the U.S., but much of the expertise will come from the U.S. It’s a model that works, said Avnet Canada general manager Brian Aebig, because of the economies of scale the much larger U.S parent is able to generate.
“I’d rather have the best-of-breed brought in than have a local resource that’s not going to be able to step up and meet partners’ needs,” Aebig said. “We won’t have that kind of scale if we don’t have the replicable model out of Gavin’s group.”
In total, Avnet has about 50 subject matter experts devoted to the SolutionsPath groups, both vertically and horizontally.