Leading the edge in storage

NetApp plays the responsiveness wild card to ace its place in the market

Netapp_1Generating an RFP for enterprise storage network solution procurement is a complex, time-consuming step over which suppliers and channel partners often lose business. Read how NetApp leapfrogged it, crunching the RFP generation window from days to minutes.

Executive. Crisis manager. Marketer. Business consultant. Mediator. Mentor. Some of the many hats every channel manager wears when dealing with channel partners.

Channel partners are critical in helping take a company’s offerings to market. They generate leads and open the door for new business.[S1] They get you sales faster, with higher ROI, and at lower risk than you could on your own.

Makes[S2] sense to dance with your channel partner, especially if you’re an IT infrastructure provider, right?

NetApp: the simple, efficient alternative

NetApp’s dance had gone well. In its very first decade, the company had gone from being a 1992 start-up to becoming one of the global Big Five in network storage. Today, it was Number Two among those five.

NetApp offered simple, stripped-down bespoke data center solutions. The packaged solution approach made everyone’s life easier. By design, too, NetApp had forged long-term relationships with channel partners. Supplier and partner collaborated well on product, service, and brand positioning.

The “ouch” in RFP generation

But it still took upwards of a fortnight for NetApp to respond to a prospect’s RFP. Sure, a 15- to 30-day window was common in the industry. Yet everyone knew what a wild card that could be.

Firstly, each channel partner represented multiple competing vendors. That meant multiple arrangements, multiple campaigns, and target-driven margins fought on the same turf for channel partner mindshare.

Second, no matter how simple the data center solution, writing RFPs was a complex task. It needed deep technical knowledge of storage networks and how storage infrastructure design impacted a company’s business objectives.

Enter the RFP Builder

NetApp cracked the problem [S3] by helping customers generate RFPs in minutes, shrinking the RFP response window. NetApp and its digital marketing partner, Regalix, created the NetApp RFP Builder app. The RFP Builder lets any decision-maker on the customer side specify the business requirements for the needed solution. The tech specs for the RFP flow from there.

Regalix had earlier created dozens of product demos that showcased NetApp’s value proposition and differentiation to customers and partners.

Done in minutes

Here’s how NetApp used the RFP Builder: A NetApp sales partner visited or called the customer. With the RFP Builder pre-loaded on the salesperson’s mobile, tablet or laptop, customer and sales exec discussed the solution criteria and dynamically selected the desired options from the app screen. Then, discussion over, the sales guy tapped the Submit button on screen, transmitting the request to NetApp’s database. Voilà.

In less than 15 minutes, a custom RFP template – something that earlier took up to [S4] 15 days or more to generate – shows up in the customer’s inbox. With it comes a tailored RFP process map, tips on how to fill out the template, and other handy guidelines.

NetApp’s North America channel partners did a double take when they saw the app. It was such a hit that the company did rapid rollouts in Germany, The Netherlands, and India before going global with it.

NetApp changed the way storage was sold. Forever.


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