eChannel 27 January 2001

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By  Colin Browne Published  January 25, 2001

Editorial Leader|~||~||~|Dear colleague,

I am pretty firmly convinced that there is more potential business for resellers in the SMB space than they could shake a stick at, were they to be a little more proactive. And I am constantly amazed at the lack of inititive amongst those resellers.

It seems clear to me that a proactive stance in this space, however, is the only way in which SMB resellers can grow their businesses.

SMBs, almost by definition, have no IT manager in-house. What that means is that they are unlikely to go out and buy, because there is no real intelligence available to support those decisions.

In other words, you have to initiate the relationship. But you have to do it in such a way that you show you are not just after a quick buck for a quick sale. You have to care.

In 1993/1994, I ran a small reseller operation in South Africa, and the one thing I remember hearing was the comparison of computer salesmen with used car salesmen. It isn't hard to see where that comes from: when it comes to cars, few people really know enough of the technical specs to make a really informed buying decison. You want a salesman who will sell you something suited to your needs. The salesman, on the other hand, just wants to get the latest lemon off his garage forecourt.

It's not strictly the same of course, but I bet it is safe to say that a lot of SMBs out there have been sold something they didn't need, that wasn't suited to their needs, or that they paid too much for at some point. After all, when someone comes shopping, the natural instinct is to sell them either the most expensive thing you can, or, failing that, anything at all to make sure he parts with some of his money.

You can't get away with that in enterprise accounts because they have an informed view of what they require.

The secret is however, that you can't do it in SMB accounts either. Not if you want to keep them as a customer. And why shouldn't you? A one-time sale means nothing, but SMBs have a habit of growing into bigger companies, and people generally stick to partners they can trust. That could mean a lot of add-on business, but you have to be trustworthy first.

So here are some tips, from me to you, on how to sell to SMB customers:

• These are customers without any real technical expertise. You have to be the ones to provide it. If you appear to know less than they do, or if you don't leave them with a healthy degree of confidence in your abilities, you will not make a sale.

• You will have to be proactive. Because SMBs typically do not understand what kinds of solutions are on offer, they are unlikely to come to you with a set of requirements. If you want to sell, you have to go out and do it.

• Unlike larger customers who demand after sales service, SMBs may have bought bits of IT in the past without, which has left them with a bad impression. You will have to offer them that service as part of the standard package-and act on that.

• Price is a no-no. Forget it. Buying on price is what they have in likelihood done before, and what they ended up with is rather less than what they needed. If price is all that interests them, try and convince them that a quality solution beats a cheap one any day. If they won't change their minds, it is probable that this isn't a customer that you want. For the margins you are going to get on a pure product sale, it is never going to be worth it.

• Think solutions, not products. Then think of upgrades in a year's time, and get it perfect the first time out.

Try these things, and tell me if they work.

As ever, you can reach me at:


Colin Browne
Editor - Computer Reseller News Middle East
ITP Middle East
PO Box 61480
Dubai JAFZ
Tel.: 971 4 282 9996
Fax.: 971 4 282 9599
||**||News|~||~||~|Palm agrees Arabisation deal with IAI

Palm is to bundle Arabic software with every device it ships in the Middle East region starting March, and following an agreement with IAI.

The deal will see free Arabic software provided with every Palm device, at no extra cost to the buyer. The Arabic overlay sits on top of the viewer and can be run simultaneously with an English overlay.

"This region is particularly international, so we wanted to give the customer a choice of English or Arabic and the customer wants the software at the time of purchase, not afterwards at an additional cost. Across Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt Arabisation will be a definite benefit, " said Stuart Maughan, Palm area manager, Middle East and Africa.

Palm is expecting to open a Middle East office in Dubai Internet City in the near further.

Plug-ins spreads its wings across the UAE

Having enjoyed great success at its inaugural store in the Deira City Centre since 1998, Plug-ins, the multi-brand electronics superstore, has moved to expand its retail operations throughout all the UAE.

The multi-brand superstore is a rarity in the electronics market in the UAE, but the Al-Futtaim Trading Group of Companies recognised early that retailers could no longer rely on brand loyalty from customers. It decided to introduce a store in the image of such giants as Dixons or Comet in the UK.

The idea has proved very popular and the one-stop electronics shop now offers a wide range of the world's leading audio, video, computer, photographic and software brands. Bob Thomson, managing director of the retail division of the Al-Futtaim Trading Group of Companies, believes the concept is customer-oriented. "At Plug-ins, everything is designed to maximise customer convenience," he said.

The success of the Deira City Centre store has resulted in an expansion throughout the UAE with six new locations opening. Alison Drewell, retail operations manager for Plug-ins, feels that the store's very concept is its competitive advantage. "The Plug-ins concept has really taken the retailing of consumer electronics [in the UAE] to a whole new level," she said.

The latest store, opening in March, will be in the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. This will take the total number of stores to seven throughout six emirates. As well as offering a wide range of electronics brands, Plug-ins also claims to have knowledgeable staff that can help customers find the most suitable product to suit their needs.

Jordan hosts high level comms conference

Jordan will highlight its desire to become a centre of excellence for Internet and IT players next month when it plays host to the Convergence 2001 conference.

The conference, which is being held under the Patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II, will bring together local and international technology and communications leaders including Jordan Telecom, France Telecom, the Ministry of Post and Communications and Int@j.

Int@j is the organisation driving the REACH 2.0 IT initiative that seeks to promote and develop technology within the Kingdom.

The half day conference, which takes place on February 8 will bring together a star-studded list of speakers.

On the agenda are: Michel Bon, president of France Telecom; Pierre Mattei, CEO of Jordan Telecom; Dr. Fawaz Zu'bi, Minister of Post & Communication; Karim Kawar, Chairman, Int@j; Dr. Henry Azzam, chairman, MobileCom; Philippe Rixhon, partner, Accenture; Reza Mahdavi, VP of developing and emerging markets, EMEA, Cisco Systems; Jean-Louis Vareille, CTO, Jordan Telecom; Gerard Dega, area president for EMEA, Alcatel; Thamer Obeidat, partner, Obeidat, Freihat and Hadidi Law Firm; Ra'ed Bilbessi, CEO, Int@j; Eyad Shokairy, senior regional manager, Arab Bank; Fred Kamperman, director of Enterprise Customer Unit, Microsoft MENA; Mahmoud Khasawneh, chief information officer, Ministry of Telecom; Imad K. Malhas, CEO, IdealSoft; Dr. Shabib Ammari, Chairman, Jordan Telecom.

Hyperlink completes Oracle initiative

Local consultancy firm, Hyperlink has deployed the Oracle Financial Suite for Dubai Technology, e-commerce and Media Free Zone Authority. The project, conducted by Hyperlink, a sister company to Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Computers, represents one of the fastest implementations of Oracle in the world and the first in the Middle East involving controlled release software, the company says.

The implementation of Oracle's Enterprise Resource Planning Application (ERP) suite was completed pretty rapidly, taking only six weeks. As a result, Hyperlink has earned certification as an Oracle 11i Training Partner for the Middle East.

The software deployment fell across two platforms, Tru64 Unix and Windows NT.

"The agreement to adopt this specialised technology and the stringent time period allotted for the project's implementation is a benchmark for technical competence and a prime example of a 'zero-time' organisation. By awarding this important initiative to an Emirates-based company, the Media Free Zone Authority has not only adopted a system which will effectively facilitate its business, the Authority has also shown its support for the growth of the local IT industry," said Hani Harik, president, Hyperlink.

Microsoft Investigating Outage

As some of Microsoft's Web sites came back online on Wednesday afternoon, the company continued to investigate the cause of a major outage affecting several of its sites.

There are temporary problems with some of Microsoft's DNS (domain name system) servers that are preventing some customers' access to Microsoft Web sites, the company says. Microsoft says it hopes to have the outage, which began Tuesday night, revolved quickly.

The cause of the problem is under investigation, a Microsoft spokeswoman says. Asked whether outside attackers might be responsible, she said, "We're not ruling anything out, but it's much too early to speculate."

Rumours swirled that the outage might be the result of a massive denial-of-service attack, security sources say.

Among the sites having problems were,, and By early Wednesday afternoon, some of the sites had returned online.

Some security experts, including researchers with Internet Security Services' X-Force, were investigating the outage Wednesday. The Atlanta-based company says it was not yet prepared to comment.

Jeff Johnson, CEO and president of Metases, an Atlanta-based security-services firm, says all of Microsoft's DNS servers are on the same network segment.

"This is a major risk because if there is a simple network problem such as a downed router or accidentally cut wire, this could very easily affect all of these machines," Johnson says. "It is best practice for critical servers, such as DNS servers, to be redundant. Part of this redundancy should be that they are on separate power supplies and separate networks."

Lucent Predicts Financial Improvement By Second Half Of 2001

Lucent Technologies' cost-cutting measures won't improve its bottom line until the second half of the year, company executives say.

Lucent plans 10,000 job cuts and streamlined supply chain management as part of a seven-point plan to cut $2 billion in costs on its way back to profitability.

The plans were unveiled after Lucent reported its financial results for its first fiscal quarter.

The company posted a pro forma continued operations loss of $1.02 billion, compared with year-ago quarter earnings of $1.08 billion.

Lucent's CEO Henry Schacht says sales should improve during the second quarter of 2001 and expenses should drop down during the second part of the year.

"Most of the financial impact will occur in the second half of the year," Schacht said during a call with analysts. "Our problems are fixable."

Schacht said the company's number one goal is to rebuild its North American sales team. "Make no mistake about it, this management team is operating as a unified group," he said.

Miscommunication among the sales staff cost Lucent $679 million in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2000, the company says.

Schacht said he would stay on as CEO until a permanent CEO was found. He declined to speculate how long that would be. Schacht returned to Lucent last October.

Capellas Says Enterprise, Services To Drive Compaq's Growth

Compaq Computer is sticking with its $9.6 billion revenue target for its first fiscal quarter, according to the company. Compaq executives said they expect enterprise products and services to lead the growth.

Compaq Chairman and CEO Michael Capellas said in a conference call with analysts following the company's fourth-quarter earnings announcement that he expects PC revenue to increase 3% to 5% this year, services to grow 6% to 8 per cent and enterprise products to jump 13% to 15%. What's more, Capellas told analysts that enterprise products and services combined accounted for 51% of Compaq's fourth-quarter 2000 revenue and 90% of its profit.

Enterprise products and services will continue to be the profit driver in 2001, he said. The greatest profit opportunity will be "taking the high-end products and bundling them with other [Compaq] products, he said.

Meanwhile, Mike Winkler, Compaq's executive vice president of Global Business Units, said there is a backlog of some 300,000 iPaq pocket PCs. The company shipped 200,000 of the devices in the fourth quarter and expects to ship 100,000 systems this month, he added.

Compaq Tuesday reported a loss in the fourth quarter after taking a hit on its technology investments and weakening demand in the U.S. consumer market for personal computers.

Excluding a $1.8 billion charge, its fourth-quarter operating profit rose 55%, slightly more than Wall Street was expecting due to a profit warning it issued last month. The company reported fourth-quarter operating income of $515 million, with net income of $332 million.

Compaq reported a loss of $672 million.

Revenue for the year totalled $42.4 billion, an increase of 10% over the prior year.

Net income from operations was $1.7 billion, up more than three-fold over the prior year. Including nonrecurring items, net income for the full year was flat with last year at $569 million.
||**||Incentives|~||~||~|Cisco Rewards now on for big prizes
Cisco Systems will reward qualifying resellers with new Audi TTs, Breitling watches, stays at the Burj Al Arab, and other spectacular prizes, for their exceptional sales of Cisco equipment.

To qualify for prizes, resellers must register with Cisco by hitting the link below, and then accumulate points towards these stunning prizes.

A full breakdown of points and values, and all you need to start collecting is on the Web site once you hit the link below.

To enrol in Cisco Rewards, you will require a Cisco Connection Online (CCO) User ID and Password. To obtain this, you need first to be registered as a Cisco reseller.

For further details, click on this link: href="">

3Com Focus Cash Mania
3Com launches its new promotion giving you the opportunity to start the new year with $$$ of cash!

Every month, based on the highest % of overachievement on monthly targets, eight winning companies will be announced!

At the end of the quarter, based on highest % of overachievement on quarterly targets, 15 winning companies will be awarded with cash!
Quarterly winners will be announced in the first week of March and will be awarded up to $5,000 for a Gold Partner, $3,000 for a Silver Partner, and $1,500 for a Bronze Partner.

Valid for Focus partners only on invoiced purchases from authorized distributors from 4 Dec 2000 to 4 March 2001.

For further details, please contact Focal Point on (UAE) 971 4 331 9533.

Special Discounts from Mentor Systems
Mentor Systems (L.L.C) offers special discounts for Dealers on Financial Accounting Solutions.

Sell the TOTAL Accounting System to your clients, based on 4GL, Delphi and MS-SQL. Completely Internet ready. Fully suited to the UAE market's requirements, and covering the following modules: Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory (Multi-Location), General Ledger (Multi-currency), Post-dated Cheques Module, Landed Cost calculation.

Make up-to 30% margins for selling the above solutions.

For further details, please contact:

Join Mindware with Microsoft and Xerox for this special promotion
Buy Microsoft Office std. at the current market price of US$410, Mindware will give you a Xerox C8 Inkjet printer at no extra cost. There is a minimum order of 5 units.

Offer is valid while stocks last.

For more information, please contact Rabab Hasan or Anuradha Basu at Mindware Dubai. Tel: (UAE) 971 4 221 9789/224 6240, or email:,, or

Join Saudi Business Machines for huge savings with IBM
SBM are offering a massive 50% discount on IBM RS/6000 servers: Top-rated Web server, High Density Packaging of Internet and Internet Applications, 64-bit performance and availability to handle your most demanding e-business, ERP, business intelligence and database applications.

For further information, email: or Tel: (KSA) 966 2 660 007

Mindware and Intel Express Router Promotion
Join Mindware and Intel for excellent pricing on Express 8000 & 9500 routers.

Intel Express 8000 series routers:
Part numbers:
ER8100ST: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x ISDN BRI
ER8100FR: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x WAN serial port
ER8210EU: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x WAN serial port, 1x console port

Intel Express 9500 series routers:
Part numbers:
ER9510ST: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x ISDN BRI, 1 x Serial WAN, 1 x
ER9515ST: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x 10 Mbps LAN, 1 x ISDN BRI, 1 x
serial WAN, 1 x console/Async
ER9530EU: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 2 x Serial WAN , 1 x console port/Async
ER9535EU: 1 x 10/100 LAN, 1 x 10 Mbps LAN, 2 x serial WAN, 1 x

For more information, email:

Tech Data & Novell: Small Business Suite 5 Offer
Tech Data and Novell are offering a special pricing on Small Business Suite 5. Small Business Suite 5 - unique market pricing is still available

Server + 5 user ONLY $372 (00662644339047)
Server + 10 user ONLY $533 (00662644339054)
Server + 25 user ONLY $904 (00662644339061)

For further details, visit: or Tel: 971 4 3346 952

Novell is also offering FREE Small Biz training. For further information, email:

Intel Network Interface Adapters pricing deal
Intel is offering IPIs a special pricing deal on Network Interface Adapters. This preferential pricing allows IPIs to buy a 20-pack at the same card unit cost as an 80-pack.

For more details, visit:

Intel Server rebate offer
Increase your margins on Intel server products with extra rebates on the PRO/100+ Server adapter.

For more details, visit:

Are you offering any special promotions?
Do you have a special promotion that you want to inform the channel about?

We would be happy to include any incentive programmes or special promotions that you are running each week in eCRN.

For more information - please send full details to Dealer Incentives.

For more information on the Middle East IT Reseller Channel - visit Computer Reseller News Online TODAY.
Do you have any events for the industry that you would like to see listed here?

If so please send a message to Events Diary today and we will add the listing in a future edition of eCRN.

January 28: Hewlett-Packard E-Services seminars.
For further information and to register, email:

January 29: Hewlett-Packard E-Services seminar. For further information and to register, email:

January 30: Hewlett-Packard E-Services seminar. For further information and to register, email:


January 29-Feb 1: Sun Educational Training Centre. Fundamentals of Solaris training: Join Sun Microsystems for training on Solaris.

The training course is priced at $1875.

For further information and to register, email: or Tel: (UAE) 971 4 3366 333, or visit

February 4-8: Sun Educational Training Centre. System Administration I training: Join Sun Microsystems for training on system administration.

The training course is priced at $2250.

For further information and to register, email: or Tel: (UAE) 971 4 3366 333, or visit

February 18-19: Oracle Sales Champion Training: a 2 day, 'fast track' sales training for sales managers and representatives of Oracle partners.

Oracle Sales Champion training will focus on the sales positioning, pricing and licensing of the Oracle product, as well as business practices.

An annual roadshow for both new and existing Oracle partners, Oracle Sales Champion training will show partners how to match the customer's e-business needs with the correct Oracle solution.

The course is essential for partners wishing to become an Oracle Certified Solution Partner, and is available by invitation only.

For further information, or to register, contact: or

January 31: Hewlett-Packard E-Services seminar.
For further information and to register, email:

February 4-5: Oracle Sales Champion Training: a 2 day, 'fast track' sales training for sales managers and representatives of Oracle partners.

Oracle Sales Champion training will focus on the sales positioning, pricing and licensing of the Oracle product, as well as business practices.

An annual roadshow for both new and existing Oracle partners, Oracle Sales Champion training will show partners how to match the customer's e-business needs with the correct Oracle solution.

The course is essential for partners wishing to become an Oracle Certified Solution Partner, and is available by invitation only.

For further information, or to register, contact: or

For more information on the Middle East's computer industry - why not visit - the region's leading business and technology web site.
||**||Recruitment|~||~||~|SEARCHING FOR CHANNEL PERSONNEL?
Are you looking to hire experienced channel people to expand your business? Why not advertise your positions to over 3,000 registered members of the Middle East reseller channel for FREE every week in eCRN?

If so please send a message to Recruitment today and we will add your job listing to the next edition of eCRN.

Hewlett-Packard: Corporate Channel Managers
Hewlett-Packard is looking for three people (1 in each of Dubai, Cairo & Riyadh) to manage HP's Corporate Channel.

The managers would work with large PC dealers in territories spread across 11 countries who have direct contracts with HP as well as manage the HP VAR Channel which sells high-end solutions.

Required experience: reseller channel knowledge in the region plus solutions sales experience. The ability to work at all levels in a reseller organisation and an understanding of channel issues. The right individuals are likely to be working today for either another IT vendor, a distributor, a software house or a reseller.

APPLY NOW: Please send an email attaching a CV to
||**||Next Month|~||~||~|In Next Month's Computer Reseller News Middle East


The 'new' IT distributors?
Delivery of any goods to a customer relies on the safety and care of the package, but mostly, the speed of which it can be delivered. IT distributors may have this down pat, but more generic logistics companies are encroaching on that territory.

State of Online Sales in the Middle East
Despite the fantastic figures cited by analysts about US sales online, the Middle East is behind, and by a long way. There are so few successful online B2C sites in the region, and those that could be termed ‘a success’ are struggling to command any siginificant sales. Is it still too soon for businesses to rely on people shopping online?

SMB Networking
Pointing out the business benefits of networking to small businesses and getting them to understand what it is that they can do and can have, is the key to success for the SMB reseller in this vast market.

The Channel in Partnership
What would happen if you were awarded a contract, worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars in profit, but your expertise is stretched to the limit and beyond in actually fulfilling the deal. Would you enlist the help of another VAR that does have the expertise you are lacking? Where does this happen in the Middle East today?

Behind the Scenes: financial trends; who is winning and who is losing; company acquisitions, mergers, and sell-offs.

Fast Forward: finding new solution add-ons to increase your overall margins.

E-Business: technologies and trends in this emerging channel opportunity.

Logistics: logistics, shelf life, and product cycles and how they affect the channel.

Upstarts & Startups: companies bucking the trends and new technologists with no respect for the status quo.

Infrastructure: the big-project VARs and what they are working on now.

Dealers Wanted: information on all the new vendors looking for resellers in the Middle East.

If you think you have anything to contribute to one of the above features - we would be very happy to hear from you. Contact CRN editorial at href=""> ||**||

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