VAR Video 05 Prospect Education

What IT Pre-Sales Engineers Really Think About b2b Content Marketing.

Video 5 of 18: Prospect Education

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An edited transcript of the conversation is provided below.

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Video 5: Edited Transcript

As a freelance b2b writer, I hear a lot of marketers tell me that customers or prospects are doing their own research. They’re able to compare vendors and download almost any kind of document that’s in the public domain space, from vendors’ web sites etc.

They go out to the consultancies, the big consultancies, and ask them what they think the market is doing.

And they can do all this long before they need to bring in a vendor or a VAR.
Matthew, what’s your perception of that? Are customers and prospects far more educated today when you go in to see them?

“… Some Companies Know Exactly What They Want”

I think it depends a lot on the company. There are some companies that know exactly what they want and, many times, the VAR is there simply to facilitate a sale.

They know exactly what they want. Other than making sure certain line items are correct on a purchase order or a quote, you’re there to make sure they get the equipment sold to them because the vendor won’t sell it to them direct.

Many times my experience is that companies don’t have the staff to stay familiar with all the different aspects, even within networking.

For example, something like load balancing. A company will know they need a load balancer but they may not have the time, or possibly the expertise, to sift through all the different options and figure out well, OK, I want to use F5, or I want to use A10, or I want to use Citrix.
So, they’ll bring in a VAR like my company, that sells for a variety of different load balancer vendors.

Some (Often Smaller) Companies Ask VARs: “What Solutions Would Work Best For Us?”

They’ll say, “based on our requirements, what solutions would work best for us?”
It’s the shortage of IT staff at most companies that allows VARs to add (not to sound cliched), a little more value.

However, there are also companies where (IT) people are very knowledgable about all the solutions, and we’re simply there to make the sale happen.

That’s a good point, Matthew. Maybe it depends on the size of the prospect. I mean, some of the large multinationals (e.g. financial services) even had IT research teams. They had three of four fairly technical people, across servers, networking, databases.

And all those guys did was to go and meet vendors, go and meet the analysts, the research analysts (Gartner etc); and then convince the vendors to lend them kit to try and build test labs. I imagine very few companies, unless they are multinational companies with lots of cash, could even think of having that sort of in-house research going on.

Right, Mark. I haven’t run across that.
In larger companies they have a bunch of engineers and project managers. And when you sit down and you talk to someone about a firewall, you’re typically talking to a firewall engineer who is familiar with Checkpoint, Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto, and the various options out there, to varying degrees.
Some (engineers) know a lot about the vendor that they’re using at that point and some also have a good grasp of the entire industry as a whole.

It’s in the smaller companies where you find engineers that are kind of jack of all trades, whether it’s across all disciplines, like storage and networking.

Even within networking, they’re having to do everything e.g. wireless to routing, switching, storage networking.
That’s where you tend to find less of an overall grasp on the market, as opposed to the large companies where their engineers really understand what’s going on.

Yes, Matthew, I hear you. I think time must be the killer in the corporate world. They (just) don’t have time.

Mark, smaller companies don’t have the (IT) people that I think they need to ultimately be as successful as they could be.

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