Flights of fancy in partner events abroad

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Flights of fancy in partner events abroad

Two years ago, the average partner summit might have consisted of several rounds of golf, even more rounds of drinks and some half-baked PowerPoint presentations.

The global financial meltdown put an end to that cosy status quo. Now,cost-conscious resellers are demanding more if they are to commit precious money and manpower to attending large events, especially if they are on the continent.

October is the most popular month for pan-European partner junkets as vendors attempt to fire up their resellers for the all-important fourth quarter. But some channel players are questioning whether their time would be better spent staying at home drumming up business.

After all, what can really be gained from a face-to-face in Alicante that cannot from a monthly conference call or visit to a partner portal?

Firewall vendor Palo Alto is holding its European partner summit in Marbella next week on 5 and 6 October. Regional manager Alex Raistrick conceded that vendors have had to buck up their ideas in recent years to ensure reseller attendance.

Less fun in the sun
Palo Alto’s event will focus on how to close business, with little emphasis on leisure activities, he said.

“Gone are the days when for three days you played golf and for one day you worked,” Raistrick said.

“This year we decided to make it compact, as we recognise people cannot take a huge amount of time out from their businesses. There is a strong focus on closing business and generating opportunities in the verticals in which Palo Alto is successful.”

Raistrick maintained that Palo Alto’s decision to invite end users to speak and
to hold money-making workshops would also guarantee sufficient return for the 100 delegates.

But are PowerPoint presentations and workshops enough to please attendees in

today’s undeniably tough climate?

Security outfit Barracuda Networks is another vendor holding an EMEA partner summit next month in Prague.

The company’s vice president for Europe, Paul Thackeray, said that on top

of the usual educational benefits, such events offer UK resellers networking opportunities that they simply could not get elsewhere.

“End users have similar problems in each country, but the way they tackle those problems may be very different,” he said. “Resellers can exchange ideas, experiences and interact with each other.”

Raistrick agreed, arguing that pan-European summits offer resellers two important benefits they could never get at home.

“First, people can sit down and have personal time with the founder of the company, which is a lot more valuable than a conference call,” he said.

“But resellers also want conversations with their peers on how to generate business with Palo Alto. You cannot do that with another UK reseller, but you can with someone from France or Scandinavia.”

Taking your pick
The October spike means resellers will often be forced to choose between competing events.

David Hobson, managing director of security VAR GSS, said: “We have been invited to a lot of partner events. We will attend a couple, but there are a lot more we won’t ­ you really have to ask what you can get back from the time invested.”

Thackeray offered some tips on how to make that tough choice.

“Resellers may have eight or 10 vendors in their portfolio, so in the worst-case scenario this could mean they lose 10 man-weeks,” he said. “They have to ask which vendors make them the most money and which they are most interested in ­ as well as which help them get through the customer’s door.”

Raistrick added: “If I were a reseller I wouldn’t be going to a Check Point, Juniper or Cisco conference now, because we all know what they do. I would be looking for a product that will get me through the door of an end user and that gives me 30 percent margin or more.”

Cisco partner summit focuses on beating downturn

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