“Our channel policy eliminates all entry barriers for a first-time reseller.” — Anand Iyer, Country GM, APC India

Quote 1: "To ensure that our partners make money on our products, we
introduced ‘Broad Base Incentive Scheme’."

Quote 2: "Price warfare is something that Wipro can’t afford to
do, but we can, as we have deeper pockets."

Anand Iyer joined APC three years ago. Since then, he has been playing a
crucial role for the growth of APC in India as Country General Manager. His
previous experience at Global Telesystems is helping him to understand the
emerging market trends and fine-tune APC products to suit this market. An MBA
from IIM, Bangalore, Anand is an electrical engineer from ITBHU, Varanasi. Anand’s
key task at APC is to champion the cause of affordable, reliable and world-class
power protection solutions for mission-critical IT investments. His
responsibilities include overseeing the growth of business by exploring the huge
potential offered by India and its neighboring countries. Anand talks to CI about
his channel vision.

Which of your products are being sold through channels today?

All our products are sold through the channel. We have followed this policy
consciously right from the beginning and we will continue with the same. The
primary reason for this policy is that the channel is closest to our customers.
The channel can reach faster and better to all customers than APC. We have
different range of products and one of them is a mass-market product. In a
mass-market environment one needs to have channels, as it would be difficult for
us to reach the customer directly. As we scale up on applications, it is
critical to have channels to support the system. To have a channel is far better
than to have one’s own limited infrastructure.

We do come across circumstances where a corporate wishes to deal with APC
directly. In these cases we pitch the product ourselves, we go and interact
directly with these companies. But we ultimately use channels to fulfill orders,
as we don’t want to offset the channel policy just for the sake of one or two
cases. Sometimes we do come across situations where a customer demands APC’s
support. We do come forward with direct support for these specific cases. But
largely we do not allow this policy to change.

Do channels selling multiple brands affect your sales? How can channels
benefit by selling your products?

Some channel partners are not capable of selling all the products. They land
up selling only the entry-level products. But when it comes to more complex
products and solutions, we select top performers from our reseller base and
train them to sell high-end solutions. Channels who have the technical and
financial capabilities to scale up come to us looking forward to deal with
larger systems.

We have never got into a situation where we were hard pressed to find a
channel partner. Most of the time they themselves get attracted to selling our
products. The confidence that they have in our products actually drives them to
sell them on a large scale.

To ensure that our partners make money on our products, we introduced ‘Broad
Base Incentive Scheme’ which offers rebates to channels. This scheme has been
running now for several quarters. When a channel partner scales up to sell more
complex products and solutions, he can opt for different schemes, which are
designed specifically for those products. We had targeted 250 retail outlets
across the country. Of these, we have touched base with about 150.

What kind of grievances do you encounter from channel partners?

In a mass distribution system where you have low-end products, one of the
common grievances is the flow of information. Channels often complain about the
lack of information or incorrect data about a particular product. We are
considering this very seriously and we are trying to reach out through multiple
mediums to communicate our message to our channel network. One is through the
distributors, as they have a captive database, which talks in detail about a
particular product or a scheme. We also send regular mailers to our resellers.
We are also planning to use media, which is primarily a reseller magazine to
communicate through advertorials that would carry techno-commercial information
as well as information about our new schemes, offers, etc.

What new products are you planning to launch in the near future?

Our latest launch was PnotePro. We expect the OEMs to go for this product in
a big way. The launch was to essentially announce the availability of the
product. Though the popularity of this product is not expected to catch up with
the masses overnight, the OEMs would make up for the demand. Meanwhile, we are
also planning to observe the movement of this product in the market for the next
quarter, which would later be followed by new concepts and campaigns.

How big is your channel network today? Are you planning to expand this?

By this year-end we would be having 1,500 channel partners selling APC
products. We have plans to expand this network base by another 50 per cent next
year.

What innovative programs have you introduced to promote your products among
the channel? What skill enhancement programs do you focus on?

We are not so creative to start off any innovative programs (laughs), but
what we try to do is to piggyback on whatever is popular among channels today.
Our channel policy eliminates all entry barriers for a first-time reseller. We
run a simple but effective authorized reseller program wherein any sales
promotion program is uniformly applicable to all our resellers. As we scale up
to business-critical applications and high-end UPS solutions, we train a few
channel partners among the pool of authorized resellers. Such an open policy
encourages the channel at large to become our partners.

As a part of channel promotion we have introduced online registration. The
registration form leads to a series of questions. Right answers qualify a
reseller to be a part of the APC channel network. This concept is focused on
encouraging first-time resellers. We look at a channel partner from the customer
perspective. We also organize an annual retreat for our business partners, which
include a session on management to help them organize their internal operations
effectively.

 

Sunila Paul in Bangalore

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