Acer Executive Sees Success in Strengthened Channel Ties
In an interview with ITChannelPlanet.com, Rich Black, director of marketing for Acer America, says the vendor's commitment to working exclusively with channel partners is behind its success and recent gains in market share. Acer intends to extend its VAR base next year and increase "touch points" with resellers.
ITChannelPlanet: What is the major challenge channel partners face now and how does Acer help them meet it?
Richard Black: The major challenge our partners face is continuing to provide value to their end-users, particularly their small and midsize business (SMB) customers. Acer helps by delivering our value-add to the channel, which centers on giving resellers whatever support we can to help them succeed, be it marketing tools, support options, demo products, and so on.
Q: Define the company's channel strategy. Is the current economic slowdown impacting that strategy? How is your channel strategy differentiated from your competitors?
Black: Our strategy is to serve resellers by giving them value-added services by delivering push and pull marketing that meets their specific needs and uses consistent messaging across our product lines; by increasing our various support mechanisms to resellers, end-user companies and IT departments; and by manufacturing high-quality notebooks, desktops, servers and LCDs that are robust and affordable, and meet the needs of resellers and their customers.
As for the economic slowdown, it has not negatively impacted our strategy. If anything, it has given our strategy greater clarity because our channel mission is based on providing quality products at affordable prices which resellers definitely identify with in these tough times. For example, resellers selling into budget-strapped educational markets (which have seen deep cuts recently) appreciate the dollar value of selling Acer.
Our channel strategy is primarily differentiated by our 100-percent dedication to selling Acer products through the indirect channel.
Q: How is Acer leveraging its channel partners to gain market share on HP and Dell?
Black: Acer is working with our partners to leverage our greatest advantage over HP and Dell, our 100-percent commitment to the channel. We never sell direct, and we never will.
Q: What additional incentives or programs do you believe your channel partners seek?
Black: Our partners tell us they want more of a one-to-one relationship with us. In the coming months we will revamp our channel program to include more touch points with our VAR community. We will give VARs more individual resources and support.
Q: Blueroads recently published a survey involving 1,000 channel chiefs that found vendors need to make fundamental changes in their channel programs and change the focus to sales effectiveness from channel efficiency. Do you agree with this criticism? What is Acer doing to help its partners grow their sales and revenue?
Black: I agree with the criticism. I think vendors need to do a better job of reacting to market changes and doing so in tandem with their resellers.
We help our partners grow their sales and revenue in a number ways: by giving them the support they need, maintaining the highest product quality, and working with them to develop secondary and even tertiary markets for our products.
Q: What are your top three priorities for next year?
Black: My goals for 2009 are to increase our touch points with resellers, expand our VAR base, and build upon our long legacy of a 100-percent commitment to delivering products through the indirect channel.