I have worked as a Value Added Reseller (VAR) since 1989, including with NFP Partners and through other business ventures. Most software vendors use a term more politically correct than “reseller,” including Abila, which refers to NFP Partners, a Value Added Reseller (VAR) of its software, as a “Business Partner.”
While some vendors appear to be moving away from the channel model (selling through VARs), or never adopted it in the first place, many of them, including Abila, try to do it both ways by selling through VARs and directly to clients. This sometimes creates tension and conflict at the ground level but also underscores the fact that the business objectives of the vendor and the VAR are not necessarily aligned. The VAR may play a vital role in the software experience, which can result in several positive outcomes.
- Advocating for the client to the software vendor.
- Offering personalized services beyond those of the vendor.
- Responding more quickly and intelligently to client needs.
- Building lasting personal relationships with clients and facilitating a community of users for networking and sharing information.
- Providing knowledge and insight that goes beyond the software.
For software users, knowing which party does what and who to deal with can be confusing. Basically, the vendor is best equipped to provide the software, keep it updated, and offer technical support on software issues that arise via the web and call center. The software customer, through their annual maintenance and support or monthly subscription fees, finances this support. Abila has a great reputation for responsive and competent support, and it also conducts training for users through webinars and some live classes. The VAR usually does not try to duplicate vendor services but provides more customized services to its clients, enabling them to optimize the benefits of the software that usually begins when the software is first implemented and continues as the client organization grows and evolves. In subsequent articles and blog posts, I will expand on each of the reasons listed with examples from our experience over the years.