Tech Data Recharges Reseller Services

Tech Data Recharges Reseller Services

Terry Bazzone

By Lisa Terry, Contributing Writer

As its U.S. government division reaches its 10th birthday and $1 billion in sales, Tech Data Corp. has announced a number of upgrades to the division's reseller services, now called the Procurement Partner Program.

The enhancements in business development, bid support, contracts and vendor program support are intended to help the $11.5 billion distributor keep pace with resellers' ever-increasing service demands.

"As we strategically revisit our service levels to customers and as market conditions change, [we have found] customers are always looking for more support," said Terry Bazzone, vice president and general manager of strategic business development. "We felt there were things we could bring to the program to help resellers."

Tech Data, based in Clearwater, Fla., has enjoyed a 50 percent growth rate in its government business in 1999. Bazzone attributed this growth in part to the introduction of various components of the new program this year, boosting its service levels and, therefore, its market share. A rise in government spending on technology also contributed, she said.

The distributor set up a five-member, inside-the-Beltway sales team drawn from the government reselling marketplace, supplementing its Clearwater-based sales team, which focuses on outside-the-Beltway federal, state, local and education markets.

To lead the group, Tech Data last spring recruited a local director with a government background, Erich Ohngemach, in a move to "add credibility within the Beltway," Bazzone said.

Tech Data also reorganized the government bid desk arrangement at its Florida headquarters, adding two layers of management to close the loop in responding to bid opportunities.

The bid desk now maintains hot lines to the distributor's technical support organization to quickly obtain expert advice.

For example, "Some bids are not brand specific but specify the technology," Bazzone said. "We want to identify the right products and confirm their interoperability."

Bid desk staff locate and track bid opportunities, match them up with appropriate resellers, offer support and then follow up to ensure the successful submission of bids.

Upgraded contract services are designed to relieve resellers of the administrative burden of fulfilling bids once they have been awarded. Services include obtaining letters of supply from vendors and technology refreshment.

A fourth improvement helps ensure resellers take full advantage of various incentives and benefits offered by vendor programs. About 200 vendors participate in the Procurement Partner Program, with offerings that include special pricing, end-user leads, General Service Administration schedule support and marketing money.

The Procurement Partner Program also includes a maintenance and installation services and warranty program in partnership with several national service providers. The program makes available five service offerings, adapted to the government bidding model, for resellers' desktop and server sales.

It also features nine leasing options and enhanced credit services, including a 45-day free financing program through Finova Capital Corp., available through the end of the year.

In August, Tech Data acquired a GE Capital IT Solutions distribution center in Frederick, Md., as part of an outsourcing agreement. At a configuration and assembly facility within the center, resellers can oversee the assembly of products on behalf of their customers.

Other centers offering configuration and assembly for government contracts are maintained in Swedesboro, N.J., as well as in IBM Corp. facilities in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Compaq Computer Corp. facilities in Houston.

Early in November, the distributor was to open a government and training services center in downtown Washington with five stand-alone classrooms and a testing center to serve resellers' own technical staff and enable them to fulfill training requirements in agency bids.

Work also is under way on a "pretty significant" Web-based program that will include a way to provide government pricing to resellers, but the company has not made any announcements on the site.

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