Profile: Growing the eNerds way

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This article appeared in the December issue of CRN magazine.

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Profile: Growing the eNerds way

eNerds is one of Australia’s fastest growing resellers. The company provides managed IT services including support, maintenance, consulting, procurement and online services.

The North Sydney company has gone from strength to strength, and for the past four years it’s been in the CRN Fast50.

eNerds is now targeting new markets. Two years ago it zoned in on manufacturing and has also been focused on the not-for-profit sector. Now it’s looking at getting into the recruitment MARKET.

eNerds CEO Jamie Warner says the best approach is to work with a vendor. The reseller and vendor can play to each other’s strengths and fill the gaps.

“We are working on a particular vertical at the moment which will enable us to strengthen being a trusted adviser in that space. For us it’s about partnering with a particular vendor of a product in that space.

“It’s about really working together to provide a complete solution to the customer.”

But how does that work? The vendor is, after all, selling a product. The reseller is  providing a service. Two different models. Not a problem, says Warner, that’s what makes it a perfect fit. eNerds steps in to answer the questions that the vendor can’t respond to.

“Often with a software vendor, they’re talking about process and procedure, whether it’s a CRM or whatever it happens to be and it happens to be in the cloud. So the customer says what else can I have in the cloud and how does the rest of my network get set up?

“Those vendors get sucked into conversations they’re not really qualified to talk about. That’s what we’ve identified in a particular vertical. As a result, we’re working with that vendor now to create a go-to-market around that. We both have a lot of mutual clients and we have been referring to each other.”

The aim here is to create a compelling marketing story. The vendor provides the product to make that story possible. The service from the reseller provides the narrative that hooks the customer.

“If you are a professional services firm providing managed services, you have got to market around relationships," Warner says. “You don’t have a product to sell other than the stuff you resell. But fundamentally, you’re a customer service business that ties everything together and manages everything. You don’t have an all-encompassing product that is aligned with your business.”

That is where the vendor comes in. They provide the product. The reseller does the rest.

“It’s really about the service,’’ he says. “So if you decide to target an industry, if you don’t have a product attached to you in some shape or form that relates to that industry, it actually becomes very difficult to tell a story as to why you’re the trusted adviser in that space.”

This is why the reseller needs the vendor.

“It becomes a much more compelling story to that vertical if your skill set which is customer service is attached to one of the products that is popular in that industry.”

The story, he says, is critical.  

“If you don’t pick a vertical you are pretty much basing your marketing activity on the size of the business and there is not really much of a background story you can attach to it to try and create a bit of buzz and talk about what you do specific to something.”

He says a business cannot expand into a new market without having a close relationship with the vendor.

“Once you have decided to pick a vertical, you need to have a fairly tight relationship with that vendor or someone in that space where you work together and develop campaigns,’’ he says.

Developing that relationship is a massive investment of time and energy. But there’s no other way.

“We've been successful getting business from referrals anyway. It’s only when you start getting bigger that you want to put processes in place to guarantee yourself more referrals that you start to do this sort of thing.

“Once you have picked a vertical and created a relationship with a vendor, then it’s up to you to do a marketing plan around that.”

And so the marketing plan becomes the story: the vendor has a product while the reseller offers the service as the vendor’s agent.

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