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A Modern VAR Networking Initiative Using Tried and True Tactics

Geoff Ashley | June 27, 2018

As the head of our Acumatica Partner Program, Geoff Ashley is excited to support our VARs and encourage their success in the cloud. Part IV of his series about becoming a Modern VAR focuses on networking strategies that work to drive incremental new business.

If you’re a Modern VAR (or transitioning into being one), here’s a question for you: what does an oil and gas field services maintenance company, a local HVAC company, and the truck driver for a snack food company have in common? (Hint: there’s more than one answer.)

A Modern VAR Networking Initiative Using Tried and True Tactics

Any ideas? Here are the unifying features we were looking for:

  • They all have fleets of trucks
  • They all carry inventory in the back of those trucks
  • They all sell that inventory out of the back of those trucks
  • They all use GPS to know where those trucks are
  • They all want the ability to reassign that driver’s route easily and as necessary
  • They all want to communicate with the people on the route that something has changed

This is a lot of commonality. The reason this is important for a Modern VAR is because  traditional marketing would have you start with an SIC code. But as you can see, none of these companies are in the same industry, and yet they all have the same, or very similar needs.  And you know how to provide solutions to those needs. This is what I call “like-minded” marketing. If you were to choose a single SIC code, you would miss out on two-thirds of the industries that can also benefit from a solution you have developed.

If this is true (and we believe it is), it then follows that you need to find a way to determine where all of these “like minded” decision-makers are hanging out? It is probably not by using SEO (alone). The Modern VAR understands that true success comes from establishing thought leadership – harnessing the expertise of the people within your company and freely sharing that knowledge with your customers and prospects. And this thought leadership requires a deliberate decision to do some very simple but powerful things.

The good news is that every VAR can do them. They are easy. They are inexpensive, and they work! Our Acumatica Partner Program assists our VARs in focusing on the process of creating thought leadership, and today, we’ll explain what those things are.

How to achieve Modern VAR success with these proven tactics

Let’s backtrack for a moment to what we discussed in the first three installments of this series on becoming a Modern VAR.

In Part I, we discussed the fact that transitioning from the professional services business model (where the focus is on delivering services based on a statement of work and billable hours, thus viewing each customer as a ‘project’) to a 21st century business model (where the focus is on customer service and annuity-based deferred revenue) is not easy, but it is essential.

In Part II, we discussed that, for the transition to take place, the VAR Principles, Owners, or Executives (POEs) must lead the charge to give customers and prospects the self-service tools and managed services they want and will pay for. And in Part III, the Modern VAR-in-the-making needs to recognize that the consumers of today are researching their purchasing options before they even speak to a vendor, which means the VAR must focus on three things to be successful: Pipeline, Experience, and Intellectual Property (IP) and Managed Services.

If you combine these concepts, you realize that the traditional methods of selling are becoming obsolete. So, what should a Modern VAR do to be successful? They must employ the power of networking through asking the right questions in a specific order.

Here are the steps and questions:

  1. Validate a happy customer: Call (or even better visit) a happy customer (the CFO or CEO) and verify they’re happy. This is important for several reasons. If they are not happy, then this entire process stops immediately as you just learned something you need to take immediate action on.  But if they are happy, then you have something that is critical to your success; you have demonstrable validation that you know what a customer needs to succeed!
  2. Have them quantify their happiness. Just knowing they are happy means nothing. You need to know HOW happy? What used to take four days now takes two. What took four people now takes two. Increased revenue by XXX%. Decreased costs by XXX%. You need the actual numbers. Don’t let them off easy. Use your existing sales documentation and SOW (from your original sales cycle) to try and refresh their memory about how bad it used to be.
  3. Ask that customer, “Where do you hang out?” The answer is often a local association or industry meeting. Here is the important key to remember. CEO’s and CFO’s rarely hang out with line-level people. They hang out with other CEO’s and CFO’s. So you need to be there. You also need to know what publications they read, what associations they belong to, what blogs they read (or better yet, contribute to)? This is the key – knowing where they hand out is knowing where other “like-minded” executives hang out.
  4. Join the association and go to the meeting! When we work with our partners during their Partner Enablement Experience, we spend time going through an association web site. We “audit” that web site and we glean all kinds of invaluable data and information. This is where you publish your white paper. This is the LinkedIn group you want to join. This is where you want to present a breakout session. This is where you get your marketing list! Like-minded CEO’s and CFO’s. And every single one of them will most likely know your customer–you remember–the one that is happy. They one that will tell them they are happy. They one with the quantifiable message that states you know their business and you deliver results on-time and on-budget.

These very simple steps work. It’s all about networking ingenuity.

Are you ready to be a Modern VAR?

Becoming a Modern VAR is necessary in our constantly changing marketplace. It’s not always an easy transition, but some of the tactics you can use to get there are simple and effective, such as the ones we shared today.

Remember, it’s not about vertical marketing but about like-minded marketing. Going vertical focuses on a single industry, which limits you and puts the focus in the wrong place. From a Modern VAR standpoint, you want to find other people like your happy customers regardless of the industry they are in. And the whole goal of like-minded marketing is to obtain thought leadership.

Do you want to know more about becoming a Modern VAR? There’s several ways you can do so.

One way is to become an Acumatica VAR. Our training and support is non-stop. It’s all about your long-term success, and we make sure you have the tools – and the recognition – you need to be a Modern VAR. You can also refer a potential VAR through our Acumatica Partner Recruitment Referral Program.

Another way is to join us in Houston, Texas on January 27 through February 1, 2019 at Acumatica Summit 2019. This is the place to get together and talk face-to-face about being a Modern VAR.

You can also contact our experts and talk with them on the phone or via email. They are always happy to answer any questions.

And finally, you can stay tuned for our next post in this series on becoming a Modern VAR. Part V will explain the single most important change every VAR must understand and embrace. It will be a good one.

Become an Acumatica VAR


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Former Vice President, Partner Strategy & Programs at Acumatica
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