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D&H Goes for the Gold with SMBs

Gold
Channel Partners' Lynn Haber

Lynn Haber

On the cusp of its centennial celebration, D&H Distributing, a family business that is 36 percent employee owned, is no stranger to change. With leading IT distributors such as Tech Data and Synnex expanding operations via acquisitions — Avnet’s technology solutions operating group and Westcon-Comstor, respectively — and Ingram Micro scooped up by Tianjin Tianhai Investment Co., the number of distributors with which partners do business is shrinking; partners don’t always differentiate between them, either. Still, D&H is unwavering in its mission and focus: serving the small partner and customer.

D&H's Dan Schwab

D&H’s Dan Schwab

“We’re not an enterprise distributor, nor do we intend to be,” Dan Schwab, co-president of D&H Distributing told us. But that doesn’t mean that D&H is sitting still.

In fact, in a discussion of the three top changes occurring at the small business distribution operation, the first is about the company’s commitment to and investment in all things SMB. While many distributors increasingly set their sights on the data center and the enterprise, that’s not in D&H’s DNA. “In any organization, when you focus on the very largest customers to the very smallest, over time you end up moving your sales reps’ focus to the highest common denominator,” Schwab noted.

By contrast, D&H has always been known as a small business distributor, something of a rarity in a community of mostly large distributors. D&H’s strategy is to add more value to its go-to-market strategy as it relates to small business — small business partners who focus on customers with 250 seats or fewer, with the sweet spot being about 100 seats or less.

How does the company go to market? According to Schwab, two out of three phone calls that D&H makes are outbound, demand generating, evangelizing technology and training resellers. “We’re really the trusted adviser to small IT shops that may have two to 10 employees and rely on us a lot of the time for the newest vendor programs or offerings,” he said. This business model veers from that of most distributors who are largely inbound and more fulfillment-oriented than demand generation-oriented, he added.

Another key focus, and one that demonstrates D&H’s dedication to the small business market, is hiring more salespeople who focus on the small business reseller. This includes both inside and outside field resources as the distributor’s customer base expands. All D&H sales reps are based in North America. The company has also added more downstream credit to the tune of $115 million per month this year, expecting that to eclipse $150 million per month. “That’s because we’re already tracking ahead of pace,” said Schwab. And, the company identifies vendors that add value to the small business market — e.g., Cisco, HPE, Lenovo and Microsoft — and work with them on custom programs and target initiatives to drive success for their small business customers.

The third key focus for D&H is education and training. “This is an area where D&H is very comfortable rolling up and our sleeves and helping our partners understand where opportunities lie,” said Schwab. Case in point: the company’s recent Fall Mid-Atlantic Show, in years past an order-writing show and now primarily …

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