When Ingram Micro decided to create a new SMB program, the distributor asked its reseller customers what they wanted. And then they asked them again. And again.
Ingram already had a well-regarded SMB program in its Venture Tech Network, but that program, with its protected reseller territories, was limited to 450 members. Last June, the company kicked off the research process that would lead to a broader SMB initiative.
Ingrams first step was to hire an outside research firm to determine the resellers hot buttons. The research company contacted about 350 Ingram customers that focused at least 50 percent of their effort on SMBs. The key issues: technical support, lead generation, sales support, financial programs and services.
Next, Ingram drilled down on those high-interest areas to find out exactly what resellers were looking for in an SMB program. Ingram brought in an outside consultant to conduct the focus groups. Resellers "are a lot more open" when outsiders run the sessions, says Bob Stegner, VP of channel development for Ingram Micro U.S.
Braced with the focus group results, Ingram created a program plan and presented it to reseller executives on its Venture Tech board and services advisory council.
After months of feedback and refinement, Ingram rolled out its SMB Alliance program (www.ingrammicro.com/smb) in April. About 5,000 resellers have been invited to participate. But for Ingram, the evaluation isnt over yet. In July, resellers will critique the initial rollout.
Nor is Stegner entirely out of the feedback loop. His father runs a small reseller shop and provides yet another sounding board for SMB issues.