Success in the SME market is harder than it looks
MicroScope reports that Xerox is seeking to recruit more resellers that sell rival products in a bid
to boost its presence in the SME market
. Nothing new in that. Vendors have always had to go out and try and get resellers on board if they want to make a decent job of hitting the SME market and, by definition, those resellers are often selling kit from other manufacturers. All too often, they are resellers for vendors that have already made a move into the SME market and put some investment and resource into selling to smaller businesses.
Companies like Xerox have to be a little bit sensitive here because if resellers think it's just a case of a vendor trying to expand outside its enterprise and corporate base into the SME market by piggy-backing on someone else's channel, they might question just how serious Xerox is. A strategy for breaking into the SME market by using someone else's channel sounds easy, but there are potential drawbacks for any vendor.
For a start, the products better be right because you are pushing them onto resellers already selling products that work for the SME market. They know what works. If your products don't stack up, they'll know it. And so will you, very quickly.
And you better appear serious about it. With their experience of dealing with other vendors in this space, resellers will be able to see very clearly and quickly whether you are going in the right direction and putting the required resources and effort into making it work.
On the face of it, Xerox is merely opting for the best way to get into the SME market, quite possibly the only way to do so. But things which appear simple can go awry very easily too. There's a reason why the channel works for SMEs. It gives them what they want. It knows what they want and it knows what they need. Any vendor that doesn't understand this will soon find itself in full-scale and ignominious retreat from the SME market.
This was first published in July 2011