Move beyond products to build lasting customer relationships.

November 21, 2019

5 Min Read
How to Break Into New Vertical Markets with the Right Partner


Chris Talbot

By Chris Talbot, senior vice president, Ascom Americas

Channel-Partners-Insights-logo-300x109.pngThe landscape for information technology and telecom is constantly evolving as innovations, challenges and customer needs arise. In the past, sales were a direct result of product offerings. However, the 21st century client expects a more personalized, engaging experience. According to a recent sales report, 70% of customers say that connected processes such as seamless handoffs or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions are very important to winning their business.

What does this mean for value-added resellers (VARs)? First, that maintaining long-term business success is no longer about simply offering the right product — it’s about building a lasting relationship. It may also be time to take a hard look at your business and identify areas of improvement and opportunity, including untapped vertical markets.

Working with the right partner is a critical first step in breaking into new vertical markets. Here are three reasons why:

1. Bridge crucial gaps to adapt and expand. You can’t be an expert in every field, so it’s important to find vendors who can help fill the gaps for your business. When you find yourself on the outside looking in, it can be intimidating to break down barriers to enter a new vertical. This was especially true for Houle, a Canadian electrical contractor and systems integration company with an established reputation as a leading building and development services business. They had a clear goal of where they wanted to be but were unsure about how to get there.

As Houle tried to lay the groundwork for success in the health care market, their team quickly realized they needed a vendor partner with the expertise to add value to health care facilities beyond simply supplying products.

“We found that the challenges facing the health care industry, specifically regarding workflow and communications, were extremely complex and impacted a wide range of end-users, including facility managers, medical staff, patients, administrative teams, IT and more,” said Liliana Andjic, vice president of business development and technologies at Houle. “These problems were not going to be solved with a single product, but instead required end-to-end solutions. We were out of our comfort zone and needed a vendor partner who could understand our company road map, the demands of health care clients, and work across all stakeholder teams to provide personalized solutions for potential customers.”

Working with the right vendor partner let Houle tap into Canada’s $6.2 billion medical device market, and create a tailored solution to enable responsive and informed clinical communication.

2. Enable greater flexibility to meet different needs.

As a VAR, a question I’m sure you ask every client and potential customer is, “what are your pain points and how can we fix them?” It’s time to practice what you preach and reflect on your own business. Take the time to think through customer experiences that went smoothly and others that did not – where can you make improvements?

By cultivating a relationship with key vendors, you can offer even more support, solutions and expertise to your potential customers – without taking on the burden of re-organizing your entire business structure.

Ideacom Mid-America is a trusted technology solutions provider in the Midwest, with more than 64 years of experience. “We’re no strangers to change at Ideacom,” said Beret Anderson, executive vice president. “Technology in particular has evolved tremendously in recent decades, and the innovation wave shows no signs of slowing down. That said, we have had no choice but to …

… become pioneers in many ways and explore new solutions and business strategies to keep up with customer demands.”

Through our work with the Ideacom team, we’re able to take an integrative approach to solutions to help facilities invest dollars wisely for sustained results. This involves identifying the data behind technology inefficiencies and collaborating on meaningful solutions that can work with existing infrastructures.

This strategy rings true across all industry verticals and should be top-of-mind for any resellers and VARs looking to enter new markets.

3. Strengthen your business to “weather the storms.” Change often brings obstacles and unforeseen challenges. For instance, when a recession or economic downturn hits one industry, your business needs to be able to quickly pivot and refocus on other opportunities.

Alaska has experienced a recession for the past several years in the region’s largest industries – oil, construction and government – and has lost an estimated 12,000 jobs since 2015. ATS Alaska, a provider of integrated systems for security, fire and life safety and energy management, recognized an opportunity to strengthen its offerings in more stable markets such as health care.

“Health care is now one of the top markets we touch, and that is in large part due to our strong vendor partnership,” said David Rand, CEO at ATS Alaska and ATS Facility Systems. “We were able to pair our deep knowledge of facility systems and our proven consultative approach with a vendor who had the inventory of solutions and market savvy to help us continue to grow, despite the Alaskan recession.”

Diversifying your business offerings in a productive, smart way will set your business up for long-term success and enable you to weather the inevitable storms ahead.

As technology innovations continue to usher in new solutions and competition, now is the time to consider investing the time and money into a strategic partner. With the right experience, product portfolio and support, a strong partnership can help elevate your business and expand into untapped vertical markets.

Chris Talbot, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ascom Americas, leads the marketing and business development organization for Ascom. For 20-plus years he’s built integrated marketing groups within hardware-, software- and service-based industries. Chris comes to Ascom from EarthLink, where he was senior director of strategic marketing. Follow him on LinkedIn or @chrisjtalbot or @AscomAmericas on Twitter.

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