VARs Target Private Sector Business

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VARs Target Private Sector Business

Many firms are turning to value-added resellers in a rapidly changing marketplace

By Heather B. Hayes, Contributing Writer

Many Washington area value-added resellers are focused on the public sector. But just as many opportunities - and perhaps more - abound in the private sector, especially as software developers begin packaging traditionally high-end applications for small and medium-sized companies.

Versatility Inc. is one local company turning to value-added resellers for help as it aims its sales sights at the lower end of the market. This Fairfax, Va.-based manufacturer of call center applications has traditionally sold directly to large enterprises that use the telephone for most of their customer interaction. After all, up until a few years ago only the largest companies could afford customer interaction systems, according to the Aberdeen Group, Cleveland.

But this summer, Versatility, formerly known as NPRI, began targeting the booming market of smaller companies with Versatility CallCenter, a software package designed for companies with less than 50 employees managing telemarketing or telesales efforts. The software tracks a call from dial-up to hang-up, providing such features as customer profiles, quotation preparation, order taking, literature fulfillment and scripting.

Versatility hopes to sell to such phone-intensive companies as insurance agencies, real estate companies and retail organizations.

"Because of the overall economic
environment over the past five years, it's become increasingly expensive for these smaller types of companies to try to market their products and services through a direct, outside sales force," explained Dave Luvison, senior vice president of channels for Versatility.

"Many companies have gone into the process of restructuring to really create an inside-oriented sales force through a telesales or telemarketing call center. It's a very pervasive trend," he said.

To get at such businesses, Versatility relies exclusively on value-added resellers. "These type of companies typically already buy from [value-added resellers], and we thought it was important to deliver our product in a way that customers were already familiar and comfortable with," Luvison said.

For resellers, such a strategy allows them to sell the product and a variety of services, including preinstallation consulting, installation, data integration, work flow re-engineering and integration.

"These types of customers really look to their local or regional VARs to not only supply hardware and software but to be a solution provider," Luvison noted.

Versatility is looking to initially sign 30 value-added resellers to help ensure regional coverage, and from there it hopes to recruit resellers with vertical market expertise. Already, the company has 14 resellers on board.

Meanwhile, to promote the product to both customers and value-added resellers, Versatility has been holding seminars. Most recently, a seminar in San Francisco attracted 53 people.

"Part of our obligation in developing this new market is supporting our VARs through marketing," Luvison said. "That could be lead generation or building market awareness in a specific territory or with certain customers. It certainly means doing joint selling or joint marketing. Our idea is, 'Let's build some product awareness and momentum for our resellers and give them more to sell.'

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