VOW recently announced it was to reshape its partner programme and launch a new multi-tiered offer called VOW Venture. PITR spoke to National Sales Director Martin Weedall to find out more about how the wholesaler is rightsizing its
offer to meet its customers’ needs.
Under the legacy VOW+ partner programme, the wholesaler provided resellers with a consistent set of benefits and services designed specifically for the business products industry. The programme, which had in excess of 180 members, was designed to ensure a high level of teamwork between partners and the team at VOW. It was successful in helping many dealers develop their business and grow, so why is it now being changed?
“We’re changing it because in today’s climate one size no longer fits all,” said VOW National Sales Director Martin Weedall. “We keep talking about the need to diversify and for resellers to maximise the opportunities in a number of growth categories, such as Jan/San, MPS, Tech and Facilities Supplies. Having everyone on the same programme, with access to the same set of tools and services was no longer relevant.”
One key driver behind the wholesaler’s decision to reinvigorate its partner accreditation programme with a new threetiered (Diamond, Gold and Red) offer is to increase its relevance to resellers. This, along with plans to broaden its business supply range, was one of the key messages from VOW’s Green Light event, where Managing Director Adrian Butler said that in 2016 VOW would concentrate on less and deliver more.
VOW Venture is open to resellers who place the majority of their wholesale business with VOW. The tier they qualify for will depend on a number of different criteria and accreditation levels, with each one tailored to their specific needs.
“Membership will be largely based on how dealers transact with us,” said Weedall. “We have some resellers who simply want product and pricing information and others where we support them right through to the final mile delivery. Whatever their needs, each tier will be tailored to suit.”
He added: “It’s a two-way partnership. As a wholesale partner, we will become even more open in engaging with our resellers so that we can provide the value-added services they need and want. Whether that’s professional account management teams to help with lead generation, training and recruitment; dedicated category specialists for contract support and to help dealers develop sales and increase margin in a competitive market; or consultancy services, such as new business acquisition or support reviewing their operations to identify areas for cost savings, margin management, improvements or growth.”
The VOW+ quarterly partner development forum, where partners from across the UK and Ireland met with senior management from VOW, will also change under the new programme.
“We will hold a quarterly partner development forum in each tier,” Weedall explained. “We’re aiming to get 20 to 30 like-minded people under one roof to have an open and frank discussion about what is happening in their businesses. We don’t live in the resellers’ world and we see engaging with our partners on a regular basis as essential, so that we can develop and provide them with the tools and services that they want.”
As PITR went to press, VOW was in the final stages of the tiering process and rolling out communications across its entire customer base outlining where each partner sits in the VOW Venture programme. VOW Venture will accommodate some 600 resellers, much more than the VOW+ partner programme, and the first forums in each tier are scheduled to take place in April.
“The tiering will be both spend- and engagement-driven, with membership awarded to resellers who choose to partner with VOW as their single line wholesale partner,” Weedall said. “We want to listen to our partners and keep them as strong as possible. We’re committed to supporting them by providing expertise and training and by ensuring the right tools and services are in place to help them both win new business and develop their existing accounts.”
He added: “We expect VOW Venture to continue to evolve as the year goes on. I can’t say today how it will look this time next year; we want it to develop and we want our resellers to be proactively involved in helping us decide the what, when and where of how we shape it moving forward.
“Talking to our resellers, we know that they want more from their wholesaler – they want that engagement. VOW Venture across all tiers will deliver that in a more relevant, right-sized way. We will focus on helping our resellers leverage the opportunity across all categories, thus enabling future growth. After all, if they don’t grow, as a wholesaler, we don’t grow.”