TechSelect Canadian chapter looks to add more value

Reseller group gets new Web site, new logo, new tools, and remembers a longtime TechSelect member at fall conference.

Irene Buchan, director of marketing at Tech Data Canada

Irene Buchan, director of marketing at Tech Data Canada

LAS VEGAS – With a new logo, a new Web site, some new programs, and a newly renamed aware that honours a community legend, Tech Data Canada has introduced some significant changes to its Tech Select reseller community, which gathered here for its semi-annual North America-wide conference late last week.

The biggest change, perhaps, is the new Web site for the Canadian chapter. Tech Data Canada executives admit that it was long overdue, but the new site gives members new tools, including realtime updates on their TechSelect-rebated rebates, and an updated profile system that allows members to more easily and fully describe their areas of expertise, both to themselves and to end users using the site’s partner finder tool. The site also carries a revamped end user-facing section, part of a broader effort to market the TechSelect brand and community to members’ customers and prospects. Among distributor-backed reseller communities, this has always been a goal, but it’s been a hard one to crack. Irene Buchan, director of marketing at Tech Data Canada, admits that with the previous site, Tech Data Canada hasn’t been able to build much brand equity for TechSelect outside the channel community. But as distributors increasingly look for ways to market to end users on behalf of their solutions, and generate leads for their customers, it’s an important priority.

“Through a broad and consistent effort, we’ll catch some opportunities,” Buchan said.

The fall gathering in Las Vegas also saw the expansion of Tech Data’s Tech Tracks program, introduced at its Canada-only event in Kelowna earlier this year. The idea, built on member feedback, is to create a way to get more members of a member’s organization outside of central management that attends TechSelect conferences, engaged in the community and getting value from it. The program launched this summer with a webinar format addressing members’ technical staff, in concert with a pair of vendors. At the event here, they announced there will be monthly webinars next year with the same format, although the focus audience will switch back and forth on a monthly basis between technical and sales staff.

Greg Myers, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Tech Data Canada.

Greg Myers, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Tech Data Canada.

“So many of those folks within the technical organizations of a VAR have so much more influence in terms of what the sellers position, particularly within solutions architecture,” said Greg Myers, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Tech Data Canada. “We want to make sure they’re better enabled with our key vendors.”

The group may look at ways of engaging other parts of resellers’ organizations in the near future, Buchan hinted, particularly marketing staff as the distributor rolls out its Reseller Connect program which delivers end user-focused marketing programs for VARs.

The Canadian TechSelect community got a chance to honour one of its prominent members, former Information Systems Architects president Rick Uhrich, who passed away suddenly last month. Tech Data Canada announced that its annual award for the most engaged Tech Select Canada member had been renamed to the Rick Uhrich Community Award, a decision Buchan was fitting given how engaged Uhrich was with the community.

“Rick’s passing really underscores how close the community has become,” she said. “The responses I got back when I sent out the notification was really something, really quite moving. It shows the impact he had. It was a tangible loss to this community.”

The first-ever Rich Uhrich Community Award went to Next Digital, while Scalar Decisions was honoured for Best Year Over Year Performance, and Contava was named Best Newcomer.

The group’s new logo matches up with the new look south of the border, where the U.S. TechSelect community was celebrating its 15th anniversary. The Canadian group meets somewhere in Canada each spring, and joins the larger North American group in the fall. However, even within this North America-wide gathering, the Canadian chapter has a much more Canada-specific and separate agenda than is seen in some of the other distributor-backed reseller groups. That’s an intentional decision on Tech Data Canada’s part, although Buchan said she works regularly with her U.S.-based counterparts to see “where else we could intersect, in what other parts of the program we could become more entangled as two separate countries.” As she sees it, “combining for the sake of combining” is out of the question.

“The question that has to be front and centre is how does this benefit the customer,” she said. “If we can find ways to combine because it improves the experience for our resellers, that’s what we will do.”

By the sound of things from the main stage, Canada may not be alone in being the “international” chapter of TechSelect for very long. In recent years, Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network has gone to the U.K., and Synnex’s Varnex has launched a Japanese chapter. From the main stage, Pete Peterson, senior vice president of U.S. sales at Tech Data, said the next 15 years will be “all about expanding [TechSelect] within the geographies that Tech Data serves,” hinting a both EMEA and Latin America as likely targets.

“I think we’re going to get there,” Peterson said.