Network Instruments develops network management solutions, including the award-winning Observer product line for network analysis. Outside of the United States, Network Instruments' products are sold exclusively through a distributor/partner model. Ian Cummins (pictured right), the company's European Sales Director, participates in this Q&A session with IT Reseller.
Q: Ian, first of all thank you for contributing to IT Reseller. Can we begin with a look at Network Instruments route to market?
A: Network Instruments delivers products to end users via a two-tier distribution strategy in the UK, France, and Germany. The first tier, distributors, adds value to our offering with local logistics, credit management, and marketing support to partners. Partners (resellers, system integrators), in turn deliver final product and solutions to the end user. Network Instruments has close relationships with both our distributors and partners. To further qualify our high-end partners, weve introduced a Premier Partner Program, which will provide specialised support, incentives, and training to a few select partners through our distributors.
Premier partners add additional value by providing customised solutions for the customer. This includes delivering hardware pre-loaded with Network Instruments software, proprietary network cards or providing services such as training and installation on the award-winning Observer product line.
Q: How do you view the current state of the European/UK market for your technology?
A: Network Instruments has grown its sales, and its support to distributors and partners in Europe every year since opening its first European office in 1997. We now have offices in UK, France, and Germany to support and grow our base in all three countries (as well as the rest of Europe).
There are a number of opportunities for the partner who is willing to invest some time into learning about the network analysis sector. Networks are becoming both larger and more complex, and the need for troubleshooting and monitoring tools grows in proportion to the market as a whole. Margins remain strong and there are plenty of opportunities for sales of add-on services. If a reseller can demonstrate genuine understanding of network problems, the likely causes of those problems, and the methodology to prove this with network analysis software, he/she can easily secure large-scale deployments without challenge or margin erosion.
Q: Do you need to expand your current channels? If so, what kinds of partners are you looking for?
A: Yes, but gradually. The key components to success in this market are a genuine knowledge of networks, a level of technical ability, sales skills, continued contact with a customer base of medium to large enterprises, hard work, and patience.
We are looking to support and grow partners who possess these attributes, and to work with them on opportunities. Network Instruments is also committed to having a good working relationship with all of our distributors and partners. Because the quality of our sales force is extremely important, we carefully review and select only a few partners per year to assist us.
Q: How will you support them?
A: Training, marketing and sales support are the key issues. Not just telling them how the product works but making joint visits and conducting joint seminars so they understand how customers can use our product to solve networking problems to enable them to capitalise on the opportunities they find. The Observer product line is not only a reactive troubleshooting tool, but also a proactive management solution, that when used to its full capacity has produced savings of time, resources, and monies for organisations. Within the past few years, we have greatly expanded our offering both in software and hardware, and as a result, our key opportunities now lie in the enterprise market as well as the SMB sector where we have always been strong. With increased penetration into large-scale accounts, comes greater requirement for product training, on-site custom installations, and more in-depth support.