(Editor’s note: contributed blogs like this are part of ChannelBuzz.ca’s annual sponsorship program. Find out more here This blog was authored by Randy Churchill, director of marketing and business development at D&H Canada.)
When D&H Canada launched in 2007, the first thing we heard was, “The Canadian distribution market is already saturated.”
And it was saturated—but with companies that catered to the enterprise and mid-sized business markets. Traditionally distribution companies were, and generally still are, geared to fulfill projects for businesses with seats in excess of 500 users. The caveat to that approach is that large enterprises represent only about 10% of the Canadian economy. So despite saturation in the enterprise segment, a large portion of the channel was still being underserved—namely SMB solution providers.
That community of SMB VARs make up D&H Canada’s sweet spot. We continue to invest resources in the small business channel in Canada, serving partners as independent as one or two-person organizations, or what we call the “S” in SMB. This has proven to be a successful strategy for us and our resellers. Case in point: D&H Canada experienced 14% growth this past fiscal year overall, and our VAR customer base has grown an impressive 29% in that timeframe.
We like to say, “SMB is in our DNA.”
D&H has always taken a different approach to its business, one that focuses on relationship-building. The company originated as a regional distributor with a limited geography, where the only way to succeed was to dig in our heels and devise ways to help small business customers in those set territories grow. D&H sales reps set out to nurture and develop their accounts, working closely to implement unique, catered strategies that would increase their business. D&H eventually went national in the late 1980s, but its consultative sales approach persisted, developing into our “high touch,” concierge-level service model.
The Focus on Relationships: People Buy from People
Relationship-building in the SMB channel is D&H Canada’s charter, and we don’t plan to deviate from it. Even as the market moves toward digital transformation and instantaneous online transactions, we’ve found that ongoing sales still require a steadfast relationship. People purchase technology from people they like, people they know, and most importantly, people they trust.
We often hear from SMB reseller partners that they’ve turned to D&H because their needs are not being addressed. E.g., they’re not provided with a dedicated sales representative, they don’t qualify for volume-based partner benefits, or their business isn’t big enough to warrant personalized attention, etc. To that end, D&H assigns individual sales representatives to each account. That rep acts consultatively, as if vested in the solution provider’s business, helping them identify new opportunities and expand their competencies, providing the solutions, training, and guidance to facilitate growth. D&H has also added staff in 2019 to continue this trend and provide more immersive, proactive customer service. In fact we’ve doubled our sales presence in the Quebec area as part of a greater initiative to engage with a wide geography of customers.
As part of this overall strategy, D&H has built an ongoing relationship with Millennium Micro group and SMCORP. Two of the largest buying groups in Canada, these organizations offer services and support to small business solution providers throughout the marketplace. D&H Canada has been working with both groups for close to 11 years developing programs and promotions to support its membership. As such, D&H Canada was named Distributor of the Year by the SMCORP members this year.
We also recently established a similar relationship with the MicroAge Network, a consortium of over 30 independently-owned IT system integrators and VARs. D&H Canada attended its first MicroAge event in 2018, bringing key executives to engage directly with partners. As a result of this consultation, D&H Canada will launch several demand generation initiatives with MicroAge partners.
So in the end, D&H Distributing’s acumen hasn’t deviated much from its earliest days as a distribution partner, fostering relationships that build business. This is what defines the foundation of D&H Canada’s customer relationships, and it’s a win-win situation for the SMB channel. Even as we embrace the digital transformation of the marketplace, D&H has learned that people will always do business with people they like, people they trust, and people they know. And the SMB VAR community needs this level of support far more than their counterparts in the enterprise space.