Networking vendor 3Com has sworn to do better by its channel this coming year, promising more and better demand generation, marketing development, service and support for 2005.
David Allen, director of international marketing at 3Com, said its channel partners worldwide wanted more help from the vendor. Many had been asking for more and better demand generation, technical service and marketing support.
Technical service and support was being beefed up globally as a result of the Siemens partnership 3Com signed this year, he said, and "significant" funding was being invested to beef up channel support in other areas.
"All our partners today are saying we need to do more demand generation. We are going to do more demand generation here to send business through the channel," Allen said.
The channel was critical to 3Com's increasingly broadbased push. System and volume distributor partners all had different roles to play and more channel partners were being sought, particularly for high-end sales and vertical niches.
However, none of the 3Com executives would be pinned down as to exactly how much additional support would be provided. Nor would anyone talk figures. "[The monetary value] is significant," said Mehmet Balos, 3Com's vice president of global marketing and communications, in an interview with CRN.
Channel partners agreed 3Com must do more to help resellers net more and better sales in the coming year.
Narong Intanate, president of Bangkok-based reseller Value Systems Co and a Thailand-based 3Com partner for ten years, said demand generation was most likely 3Com's main Achilles heel when it came to channel sales.
"We've seen 3Com go up and down in that time of course. No company is perfect," he said. "If they get good execution [of their strategy] and good demand generation and good channel strategy, I think we'll see 3Com ascend to a very strong position."
Thongchai Puckwattanachai, executive vice president at Value Systems, agreed. He said that 3Com's new, broader portfolio meant the company would have to smarten up its act.
"How is 3Com going to execute? 3Com still has a lot of cash, so they are not struggling month to month, so it's a comfort they can invest," Puckwattanachai said.
Intanate added that 3Com was introducing so many new products, in network management and for the enterprise particularly. "It is important that they create demand generation, for new products and new areas [especially]," he said.
However, 3Com had done very well and "few vendors" understood the need for good back-end rebates as well. 3Com had done well in shifting and difficult times, he said. "I think it's a good company to work with," Intanate said.
"As a distribution partner, I always worry about vendors going direct and all that, but 3Com has kept its channel strategy very clear."
3Com does have a direct touch sales team but sends its leads to its partners, 3Com executives confirmed.
Fleur Doidge travelled to 3Com University Live in Bangkok as a guest of 3Com.