The Value-add in VAR

Resellers should support new technology by getting to know it.

Buying new technology is fraught with risk, and resellers need to ensure they have firsthand experience with the wares they are purveying so their customers are satisfied.

When you think about it, buying a laptop should be as simple as buying a beer: You decide on the product you want, you find a place that sells it, you hand over your dollars and, presto, satisfaction.

Except nothing is that simple. The beer comes in different alcoholic strengths, different-size bottles and with various calorie levels. And, if you have never bought a beer before (or even drunk one), how do you know which one is right for you?

Put in laptop terms and on a consumer level, even if you understand the technology behind the laptop—memory, hard drives, DVD-RW, security and so on—that does not always prepare you for the barrage of tech jargon that awaits you as a buyer. This, of course, leads to anger when someone realizes he chose nonalcoholic beer while on a night out with the boys—or, in my case, a laptop running Microsofts Windows Vista.

There are enough Vista-bashing stories out there to more than wallpaper my entire apartment, so I dont intend this to be another one. And, yet, I am not alone in my thoughts.

Reading Joe Wilcoxs Microsoft Watch blog post "Vista, None for All?" confirmed my view. As Joe reported, a VAR he knows in the Washington area told him that every person he has set up with Vista has switched back to Windows XP. And I can, as a Vista user, now see why.

Vistas drain on memory and the differences between it and earlier versions of Windows are so varied that the new OS is difficult to get used to. And thats not counting the changes to security and the user-control variants, among many other things.

IT managers are certainly better versed in the ways of technology than consumers. But it seems that theres never enough time for IT managers to get all the information they would like when evaluating new technology.

This is where VARs can (and should) be of help. Providing in-depth knowledge of and experience with new technology is the very least of a solution providers role. Solving a business problem is vital, but diagnosing what that problem is and then using the right technology and best services and maintenance to support the customer should always be the foremost goal.

And actually trying out systems in-house or using demo equipment—or both—is by far one of the most powerful techniques for effectively selling and supporting technology.

After all, a bar owner doesnt need to know what every beer tastes like, but he or she needs to know what the customer is looking for to be able to address the thirst accordingly.

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