NEC Expands Clout with VARs

Vendor extends its U.S. channel presence through a distribution agreement with Synnex and an overhaul of its sales strategy. It wants 90 percent of U.S. sales to move through the channel within a year.

NEC Corp. of America is turning to channel partners to broaden its U.S. presence by expanding revenue and building brand-name recognition for its storage, servers and infrastructure software products.

While the company reported worldwide sales of $40 billion, less than 3 percent is generated in the U.S., prompting a shift in sales strategy that began about two years ago, according to Jeff Edwards, NEC vice president of sales, IT Platform Group, which oversees the vendor’s distribution channels.

NEC readily admits it is a minor player in the U.S. IT market, in stark contrast to its market heft in Japan and Europe. To boost its U.S. presence, the vendor hired a new channel chief 10 months ago to overhaul its sales strategy and, more recently, added a broad distribution agreement with Synnex Inc.

NEC’s distribution goal is to drive up to 90 percent of U.S. sales through the channel within a year, Edwards said. The vendor’s distribution model includes master resellers, VARs and distributors. Some legacy VARs which currently buy directly from NEC will migrate to purchasing from distributors or master resellers, Edwards said.

“We have product lines that fit nicely into a distribution channel,” Edwards said, referring to NEC’s storage, servers and infrastructure software. “The goal has been to find a few highly motivated, quality distributors.”

Edwards said the Synnex agreement is vital to NEC’s channel plans because the company needs more VARs to sell its entire product line to a wider audience rather than the specialized markets in which it currently operates. The vendor is convinced that Synnex will deliver enterprise-focused VARs that fit well with its products. Edwards added that NEC plans to “invest heavily” in the Synnex relationship. He noted that NEC already has been training the distributor’s sales force for more than a month.

Fred Towns, senior vice president of sales at New Age Electronics Inc., a division of Synnex, termed the new relationship with NEC a “new found opportunity.” Towns said that New Age already has spent a considerable amount of time familiarizing itself with the NEC line and “going through our customer list to see how it all fits.”

Prior to the Synnex deal, NEC signed VARs and master resellers to fill coverage gaps either in technology, vertical market or geographic areas. For example, NEC’s distribution lineup includes Promark Technology, which focuses on storage and the government market; Foreseeson Technology Distribution, which sells security, networking and communication solutions; and Condre Storage Inc., a data storage specialist.

But the sea change in NEC’s thinking is to push its desktop-to-data center solutions to a wider market of enterprise-level customers through a well-trained set of VARs backed by a significant portfolio of NEC resources. The vendor does not intend to abandon its niche players but expand its reach to a broader, enterprise audience.

Edwards said that NEC has improved the support offered under its three-year old ExpressPartner program by providing sales tools, including configuration tools, data sheets, product images, presentations and research materials. NEC also has incorporated a reseller deal registration desk into the program so partners can protect sales opportunities.

NEC is providing field support for channel sales in six geographic territories in the U.S. with a charter to “drive everything we can into the channel,” Edwards said. “We have a substantial pipeline of new VARs coming aboard and we want to be certain they are well supported in the field."

TAGS: security,software,networking,NEC,VARs



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