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Synnex Partners Celebrate Varnex’s 10th Anniversary

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Lynn HaberSYNNEX SPRING VARNEX CONFERENCE — Partner communities, like Varnex, are all about learning leadership skills, business success and learning to expand business opportunities via partnerships with other like-minded partners. In 2016, Varnex members accounted for $1.3 billion in sales for distribution giant Synnex.

About 400 attendees at the Varnex 2017 Spring event, this week in Austin, Texas, are speed-dating with vendors, attending manufacturer’s trainings and educational breakout sessions, networking with other partners, and schmoozing on the vendor Pavilion floor.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Varnex is moving ahead with three key pillars for 2017: education, marketing and branding, and membership. After listening to members, Synnex is rolling out two new education offerings: Virtual Sales Manager and Executive Leadership 201. The distributor has updated the Varnex website where members can find content, new customizable marketing materials, white papers and case studies, and the Varnex Opportunity Playbook.

For Thomas J. Lohr, vice president of operations, and Keith A. Newell, chief financial officer and co-founder of 14-year old Techworks Consulting Inc., it took a short three years to learn the value of a partner community like Varnex.

“The first year we attended Varnex, it was a freebie and we got to experience the community. From there, we try to go to every Varnex event, take leadership trainings through the Varnex University, and over the years we’ve learned the benefit of educating our staff below top management, have them experience the events, get out and network with other businesses. When you’re in a room with 400 other companies, you don’t feel like your competitors anymore,” Lohr shared with us.{ad}

Synnex's Bob StegnerLike many small and medium partner businesses (SMBs), Lohr explained that in the company’s early years, it viewed the VAR business down the street as a competitor out to steal its business. “Now we’ve learned that there are so many opportunities to meet and engage with other people and have aligned interests,” he said.

As a Varnex member, Techworks turns to other member partners with vertical-market expertise they don’t have, or geographies in which they don’t do business, and as a result is growing in areas that, without partnering, wouldn’t have been an option.

“The biggest lesson that we learned being a Varnex member is that our competitors are not our competitors; they’re our partners and we’re helping each other build our businesses,” said Newell.

Channel Partners caught up with Bob Stegner, senior vice president of marketing, North America, Synnex, to discuss how partner communities have evolved over the 10 years that Varnex has been around.

Channel Partners: What worked for Synnex and Varnex partners 10 years ago must be different from what makes Varnex a valuable partner community today. Tell us what’s changed.

Bob Stegner: If you go back 10 years, pricing was still a big deal — a factor in a partners’ business. So, looking back, a goal for Varnex was to …

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… help partners make the monthly costs of their business more affordable. We offered special pricing or we worked out ways to cut their costs on a day-to-day basis. Then, as time progressed, and pricing wasn’t as much a factor anymore, because essentially it was all low, there wasn’t a lot of room for movement on the vendor’s part, the distributor’s part or the reseller’s part.

That’s when the communities became even more important, and [started] offering special discounts from Avis or FedEx or discounts on travel — ways to act as one and bond on loyalty [for example].

For one new member, he’s looking to expand his successful MSP business, and the Varnex community works for him because it’s beyond just MSPs. Now he has to think about solutions and products. Partners are getting smarter — they’re not just changing their business model; rather, they’re changing their businesses to meet the needs of their market.

If I had to sum it up, I’d say today’s partners are more open to change than they were 10 years ago, including [via] more mergers and acquisitions.

CP: What makes Varnex members successful?

BS: The thing that makes partners successful today is the ability to adapt. That’s a challenge. In the community, members hear stories about how other partners grew their businesses and challenges they faced. It helps partners to have something to look forward to, to think about risk and reward.

We see partners adapt, whether that means changing their business model[s], or expanding to new vertical sectors. And the tools available today for partners to learn are unbelievable — such as our Varnex University or our Leadership classes. [They] help our members make the transition much easier.{ad}

CP: What’s ahead for the Varnex community?

BS: For the smaller SMB partners, we’re offering the Virtual Sales Manager training. Our beta went great because the partners work directly with the sales reps. It’s hard to be a business owner and a sales manager because they want to train their guys, but they also want the business coming in. So, we take time out of that with the Virtual Sales Manager.

I think you’re going to see a lot more partnering — more so than in the past. So, for example, I think what you’re going to see is, if I’m not in public sector and don’t have the wherewithal to ramp up for that, I’m going to partner with someone [and] get a portion of the transaction rather than lose the deal all together.

The more our members partner, the more we all can promote the Varnex brand.


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