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3Com channel in overhaul

Networking vendor throws net open and catches major new players in exhaustive reseller telephone research.

3Com’s channel has seen more than its share of changes this year, as the company set about deploying its ‘Focus’ strategy in the wake of the company restructuring in March.

But though the changes have been rolled out in an effort to reflect that ‘Focus’, the biggest winners have been hundreds of smaller resellers, which previously had no contact with 3Com. Now, they are getting calls, as the company tries to drum up business through its distributors, which managing director of 3Com Middle East believes could lead to double, triple, and even quadruple the number of sales.

The initial steps in that direction came about as 3Com canvassed resellers through the summer to assess suitability for access to the bronze, silver, or gold levels of its Focus programme. “We outsourced some telesales activities, and had ten consultants who actually made something like 1500 phone calls. It was a massive job. So it took the best part of two months of qualification,” says Summers.

“And we got some fantastic information and feedback, which was passed to the 3Com sales teams, and we sort of drilled down on those responses, through a series of detailed interviews, and meetings,” he says.

According to Summers, some resellers were “quite amazed to find that 3Com was calling them.”

“It was very positive, and [we thought], shouldn’t we be doing this more often; shouldn't we have done this a long time ago?”

The result of that discovery is that 3Com is establishing its own telesales team in the Dubai office of its Middle East operations, to assist the country or area managers responsible for territories to keep in touch with partners there.

“Take a country like Saudi Arabia so we can compare the size of it. We know that there are about 1000 listed resellers, 1000 listed companies that buy products of one sort or another. Given the range of products that we offer, we would expect that during the year, close to 70% of those companies would buy a 3Com product,” says Summers.

“And let’s say that we would expect to engage with maybe 50% of that number, and quite quickly, you are down to a massive number of 350 resellers that you want to do some sort of business with. So how do you do it? This is where you have to get scalability, and one way to do that is over the Web. And that is why a lot of what we are doing is Web-based. But at the same time, we are well aware that you still need a human relationship. And that is why another way of getting saleability is to set up telesales teams,” said Summers.

The issue, as Summers sees it, is increasing sales to a broader base of resellers by simply making it easier to do business with 3Com.

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