Peer Power Blog
Arlin has been involved in the IT world for over 25 years as the founder of Sorensen's Computer Connection in 1985 and then through M&A to become a partner and CEO of Heartland Technology Solutions in 2003.
How’s Your Credit Relationship?
I just spent some time with the credit and finance team at Ingram Micro in Buffalo at their annual analyst event. Some very obvious things came to the surface as I was allowed to speak with this team of professionals about M&A from the reseller perspective. It was a very valuable learning experience for me, and a number of observations come to mind based on my time with them. Hopefully these can be helpful to you in growing your organization.
1. The credit and finance team is filled with quality people who truly care about the resellers they serve. Contrary to what some think, they are not in the sales prevention business. But they are in the risk management business. Distribution works on an extremely tight margin. As resellers, we’d pass on business that generates the slim margins they sell all day every day on. So they have to be diligent in how they manage the risk because there is little to no room for failure around payment. The business doesn’t support write-offs like some industries do.
2. Relationships are key to effectively working with your credit rep. When is the last time you spent some effort getting to know the person who handles your credit line. The reality is that these folks are people just like you and me. They have challenges and issues that they deal with every day at home and in the office. Take time to get to know them personally. Many take that approach to sales teams or executives at distributors, but the keys to the kingdom are in the hands of credit so make the investment to become acquainted...
IT Channel Summit 2013
We just completed the HTG IT Channel Summit for 2013. It was attended by a great group of HTG Vendor Sponsors - HP, Dell-SonicWALL, Lenovo, Microsoft, Logmein, ESI, Symantec, WatchGuard, Storagecraft, and eFolder. A big thank you to these companies for making the investment to come learn with us how to more effectively build the channel relationships that bring success to everyone.
We spent a day and a half together interacting around some of the challenges we face in the ever changing marketplace for IT, and dove deep into some key areas that we at HTG believe need attention to be sure we remain relevant to clients in the days ahead. The first half day focused on sales as this group of vendors was included in the discussion along with those attending the HTG Sales Summit next door.
Tim Brewer keynoted around building win-win synergy between vendors and MSP’s. We focused some of our time on learning to deal with conflict led by Rich Anderson around getting to yes. And then I led a session on the strategic planning and problem solving methodology based on the GE Workout system. George Hlebak, from Dell-SonicWALL, was on hand throughout the event as a subject matter sales management expert, and closed the morning with a discussion around the annual business plan.
One of the biggest learnings for most HTG member companies was the disconnect that currently exists between their business plan, and the fact that very few (less than 20% of the audience) have a quota assigned to someone to assure the targets set in the business plan are met. That should be part of the leadership plan process, where the...
Vendor Peer Groups Alive and Well
I just returned from an awesome few days with the two HTG vendor peer groups in Boston. We met at the Dell office there and had a dozen of the HTG sponsor companies in attendance. It was an enlightening and stimulating set of meetings. The attendees are HTG members through and through. Sometimes we tend to think of vendors as different in some way from members, but the reality is that HTG has three constituents who are all part of the HTG family. IT companies, vendor sponsor companies, and HTG staff make up the HTG ecosystem. And each and every one of those companies and their employees are part of the HTG family.
The vendor peer groups, which we call HTG V1 and V2, follow the same agenda and meeting interaction as a regular IT company peer group. They did their quarterly QBR’s, reported this quarter on life plans, did best practice contests, and tackled several agenda topics and parking board items. The range of discussions were broad and focused on many of the same kinds of things that happen between four walls at the IT company group meetings. People are people no matter where they work, so there was plenty of discussion around the challenges of kids, money, family, work/life tension and the like. The members of these two groups have gone deep with each other and actually are ahead of many of the IT company groups I’ve sat in on in many ways, such as the depth of their interaction around life and legacy plans, the focus on strong goals and accountability, and a real focus on...
Growth - Is It For You?
Growth seems to be one of those topics that is continually at the top of the list when people want to talk about the future. So how does it happen. Well, here are seven areas you might consider if you have an inkling that you want to grow. One thing to know for sure is that growth seldom happens accidentally. It is hard work, takes planning, is slower than you want, and seldom happens exactly as expected. But there is little doubt that you can grow if you choose to make that a priority. Here are some steps to help you consider that path.
1) Decide you really, really want to grow. Believe it or not, the primary barrier to growth is desire and just starting the process. Do you really want to grow? If the answer is yes, then you must commit to this goal and be willing to accept changes.
The people who work for you must also be willing to accept changes. They have to be willing to let go of the control they have around certain decisions and in certain areas.
It takes an attitude of unselfishness. People must be willing to die to some traditions, to some feelings, to the old way of doing things in order for growth to occur. That takes maturity and will power.
2) Your role as leader must change. Once you decide you want to grow, you’ll need to analyze your role as the leader of your company. You must be willing to change from entrepreneur to leader. If everything depends on you — if you have to personally make every decision and solve every problem — then you cannot grow beyond your own energy level. And that...
Two More Major HTG Upcoming Events – Still Time to Register
HTG has just finished up the first round of summer events, and they were fantastic. Our Q3 centralized meetings validated the power of having multiple groups in the same property at the same time to allow us to engage more effectively with vendors, outside resources (like SLI) and our peers. The HTG Vision Summit, while a very new event with a completely different focus for HTG, was a raving success. Participants and viewers alike were excited about the thought leadership and opportunity to interact in an environment focused on thinking outside the box and looking forward. And the Service Summit was extremely powerful for those service leaders who were able to gather and get down to earth practical ways they can go back and help lead their service teams to new levels.
But wait, there’s more. We have two events mid-September that are designed to help two other constituencies of HTG go to the next level. The first is our Sales Summit, which will focus on helping sales leaders grow their company through practical ways to build and develop a sales organization. Much like the Service Summit we just completed, we have tried and tested sales leaders who will share first-hand experience about how to overcome some of the challenges in building a sales focus. Since 44% of HTG member companies listed sales as one of their top three challenges, this should be a very applicable event to help in overcoming that challenge. And best of all, if you can’t make the trip to Omaha, it is being webcast. You can register at Read more.
Vision Summit: Day 2
“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Jim Collins and his colleague Jerry Porras stepped into the conversation on Vision back in the mid-90s when the word was “trendy” and becoming muddy and undefined. They broke vision down into two components: Core Ideology (including core values and purpose) and Envisioned Future (including a BHAG and vivid description).
The second day of the HTG Vision Summit encompassed both. Keith Keller kicked the day off by getting all of the attendees laughing as he compared running a business to coaching his children’s baseball teams. One point that jumped out at me was Keith’s reminder that we need to find the best place for the player where they can maximize their impact for the whole team, not just the best place for the player himself or herself. Finding someone else who can take something off the plate of that multi-talented staff member will free them up to engage and move the whole team forward. The results of that effort mean a win for the whole team. When was the last time you freed up someone from duties under their name on the org chart so that they could work on something that would benefit the whole company?
The next block of speakers addressed the Core Ideaology component of Vision:
- Amy Luby is a mother of seven whose title...
Today kicked off the first day of our Vision Summit. The format of all of the Summer Events are meant to provide more interaction among members, and this event provided multiple chances for interaction. We listened to a wide variety of speakers on a wide variety of topics. Each one came up and shared an idea, speaking for 15-18 minutes and then taking a couple of questions from the audience. Phil Kenealy shared about how he realized one of his bucket list goals by going to Bonneville and watching cars race across the Salt Fields. He tied that to lessons he has learned over time in business. Jeff Howard came up and made an open confession to his peers: he admitted to being a revenue addict. I think this is a key issue for many HTG partners currently—Jeff isn’t alone in that. Sometimes we feel like any revenue is good revenue, and Jeff made the point that he as a businessman had a stark realization that he as a 9 year old entrepreneur with his lemonade stand understood a lesson that he as an adult businessman had forgotten: the value of focus.
Jamison West’s presentation was one that created some buzz in the discussion groups as he shared his perception of the high level vision of how Microsoft is positioning their products and in particular Office 365 an Azure as an ecosystem. We heard some innovative ideas in the field of healthcare from Garrett Brucker and Sandy Lane as they shared about some of the shifts in patient care. It was fascinating to hear Sandy’s interpretation of why US healthcare costs far outpace those of our foreign counterparts and why even with...
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