Social media communities becoming hot channel sales feature

Vendors are constantly looking for methods to better engage their resellers and help boost their ability to reach end users. As a result, Arrow Electronics crafted a new way to not only engage resellers, but help their partners better communicate with each other and engage prospective buyers, CRN reports.

Recently, Arrow unveiled a new social networking site for their IBM solution providers throughout North America. According to CRN, the goal of the social media platform is to increase connectivity among resellers, broaden their reach and allow solution providers to discuss tips and uncover best selling practices.

The platform, named the Virtual Bench, was constructed with the help of IBM, but Arrow states that plans call for expansion into other solution providers, including Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and others.

"What we're providing is the ability for partners of many different types … to reach out and find each other online and make it very easy for them [to partner]," Robert Spee, senior director of software sales and marketing for Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions' North American IBM Group, told CRN.

Spee added that Arrow has experienced a surge in the amount of resellers wanting to partner with other solution providers, including ones that will allow a foray into other services. While that initiative will create greater openness among resellers, Spee acknowledged the economy is undoubtedly playing a role in such behavior.

"The economy is certainly one factor. [Resellers] are always hesitant to invest ahead of revenue. This gives them a way to do that. But it also has to do with the trend of becoming more solutions oriented," he detailed.

Arrow is not the only vendor to roll out a social media network. In November, Compuware rolled out a free, cloud-based networking site constructed by Cloudsleuth, CRN reports. Compuware's platform will allow partners to monitor their applications and check on the status of cloud service providers.

Social media is becoming a corporate force beyond simple communication. The platforms are allowing businesses to interact in ways executives could never have dreamed of just 10 years ago.

There is also the added revenue to consider. Such networks are a new way to connect business partners and enhance sales opportunities. Additionally, should these services be offered at no cost like Compuware, there are greater opportunities for vendors to retain their partners. The ability for vendors, resellers and end users to maximize their business is an all-around win-win situation.