Business Marketing 101: Hey Value Added Resellers, what are you selling? - MaaS
Ultimately, every business is selling something. Identifying and presenting what you are selling for most organizations is a no-brainer…unless you are a technology reseller.

In the last decade, Technology Value Added Resellers (VARs, or Resellers) have experienced a barrage industry changes that have driven some organizations out of existence and have made others exceedingly wealthy. The Digital Transformation that we all speak of has quite possibly impacted VARs more than any other organizations in corporate America. Here are some of the things that VARs have been faced with in the last decade:

1. What to call themselves: VAR, Reseller, Technology Solution Provider, Solution Provider
2. The shift from pushing boxes to solution selling
3. The .com debacle which created a massive economic downturn
4. The evolution of Managed Services
5. The evolution of as-a-Service
6. The evolution of IoT
7. Movement to White labeling, and then away from it
8. The shift from solution selling to value-based selling
9. The evolution of the Cloud
10. The industrialization of Hackers and Cyber Attacks
11. The market demand for Enterprise Security Professionals
12. Movement to disclosed value-added Partnerships
13. Never ending mergers / acquisitions with Technology Manufacturers
14. The evolution of Enterprise Lifecycle Management
15. A shift to reoccurring revenue
16. Manufacturers who sell Direct and through the Channel
17. The evolution of the Ecosystem approach
If you work for a VAR and are selling the same products and services that you were just few years ago, you should be absolutely terrified of being obsolete. Successful VARs never stop re-inventing themselves, and re-interpreting what they are selling and how they are selling it.

So, what are you selling?

Such a simple question, yet many technology resellers are finding it incredibly difficult to answer. The complexity of market forces (above list), combined with the more traditional impacts like limited availability of highly skilled engineers, evolving and new technologies, and shrinking product margins create a constant state of flux and chaos.

All that said, most Resellers are selling:

  • BASED ON TECHNOLOGY PRACTICE: Collaboration, Data Center, Networking, Security, Contact Center, Managed Services
  • BASED ON INDUSTRY: Financial Services, Healthcare, Education, State & Local Government, Federal Government
  • BASED ON MANUFACTURER: Cisco, HPE, IBM, Dell-EMC, NetApp, Avaya, etc
  • BASED ON VALUE: Unique Professional Services and Consultative Service
Again, VAR, what are you selling?

You are selling “tech”, right?

No? Have you switched to selling “solution benefits”?

Or, have you re-focused on Security and now you are selling “fear”?

One last question: Have you ever considered selling yourself?

It is time for a Breakthrough

As simple as it sounds, the innovative VARs have seen the writing on the wall…it’s now about the “V”, value. We have entered a time when simply being a Reseller that lives off the margin between the buyer, distributor and manufacturer is driving many, many, many VARs to extinction. But all is not lost.

Let’s consider the complex market forces and traditional impacts mentioned above. Don’t you think your customers are impacted by many of these same things? The short answer is YES, and they are looking for a consultative partner who can help them understand what is going on and then develop a path towards the future. The bottom-line is that they are looking for a VALUE-ADDED Partner./span>

“V” for Victory

I couldn’t resist, sorry. But seriously, promoting and selling your Value does not have to create an upheaval in your organization. Just about every VAR already does “value” activities for the client, most of the time these are buried within pre-sales or, in solution architecture. It’s time to break these out and shine a light them. Claim them, dress them up a bit, and showcase these consultative efforts. This is the low-lying fruit. On a grander scale, consider talking more about the Customer Journey, developing broader business-centric assessments, and developing professional customer-facing, consultative presentations that show that you have listened to their pain-points, done the analysis and developed a prioritized path to move forward.

The ultimate goal should be about developing a long-term customer who feels the value of your partnership. Customers appreciate the fact that you help them make the right decisions to address the right problems. Most importantly, when this happens, the conversation is no longer solely focused on cost.

Now, I totally get that this is not simple. One of the significant hurdles is the restructuring of compensation plans for all levels of the Sales and Engineering teams in order to drive the new customer paradigm. Compensation Plans should be more heavily weighted to long-term customer value, rather than current month’s quota attainment.

The Importance of Brand Identity

Your ability sell your Value as a trusted partner has one very important pre-cursor, you have to have a clear brand identity with a strong unique value proposition. The Value approach is based upon establishing trust and this is best done when you articulate who you are and how you can help in an authentic, clear manner that separates you from the competition.

I hope this was helpful,

Colin Millstone

Colin Millstone

Founder / President

A seasoned, multi-dimensioned entrepreneur, consultant and business professional who helps organizations get to the next level. With three decades of experience in business, marketing, technology, operations, sales and finance, I bring a results-oriented, collaborative, strategic, passionate, and budget-minded approach to leadership and organizational success.

As a pioneer in Managed Marketing Services and Marketing On-Demand, and the Founder and President of Marketing as a Service (, I work daily with organizations which are creating, distributing, selling and servicing some of the most impactful products in the world

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