How VARs are surviving the struggling economy

Success during an economic downturn hinges just on VARs being VARs. Steve Ferman, President of Compunite, suggests that part of the role of a good VAR is to ease the panic and help customers through times of uncertainty. "The reality is people want someone to tell them what to do, and they look to MSPs or VARs for that guidance. And they really need to be able to provide it."

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The market is changing, and it will never be the same again. But, that's true even in the best of times in the ever-changing IT business, and now more than ever, it's important to change with the times. One way VARs must change with the times is by providing projects that deliver a documentable return on investment in short order. William Dunn of Dunn Solutions Group says, "Our customers want to see that ROI in the first year. In the past, they would be willing to wait two to three years for ROI, now, they need to see some ROI within the next 12 months." A recent Research Note from Nucleus Research suggests an even shorter window, suggesting that projects with a payback of more than six to nine months will get put on the back burner.

Ultimately, VARs change with the times because their customers change with the times. A Gartner research note recommends that companies "anticipate considerable business replanning to continue to the end of 2008 in response to the 'aftershocks' that will continue to hit the economic system." This sort of replanning is what brings in new business for VARs.

One noteworthy way of changing with the times is through embracing Web 2.0 technology as a way of keeping their names in front of customers and potential customers. Patrick Robbins, CEO of, says "I think there is a pretty big percentage of salespeople's' business that is related to referral or repeat customers. Using online networking tools can help them be at the right place at the right time. I think more people will be using online profiles like SalesBook to store their content and keep themselves and their names in front of customers , both to be found by people that are looking for solutions, and to keep their value proposition in front of their partners and prospects."

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