Future CAD: Download or Dealer?

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Many of the people in CAD dealerships have been selling CAD for many years. While Channel managers and sales folks at the CAD vendors come and go with the seasons, these dealership principles are the main industry constant. The sales of whatever CAD system they have affiliated themselves with puts bread on their tables and hopefully pays their mortgages. These people are business folks that have to take a long hard look at how they can grow their businesses with the least risk and in a controlled, sustainable way. This is typically at odds with the rate at which the CAD vendors want them to grow. Of course it is also possible to grow your CAD dealership through developing more added-value services, or selling additional products, perhaps in a different market segment – but then this does not favour the CAD vendor, as they want to sell more boxes of branded product.

So there is a lot of pressure on dealers at the moment to increase sales, hire more staff and be more aggressive about new-seat business. However, long-term, I see trouble on the horizon. The route to the customer will, in the next 2 or 3 years change, as the old Value Added Reseller (VAR) model will have to sit with Web-based delivery and the ability to order CAD products and services direct over the web. No vendor will talk at any length on how the existing channel and direct downloads will work, yet they are all developing web delivery businesses.

It all boils down to the value that the vendors see in having an experienced channel and the revenue they want to give to these dealers in an increasingly web-delivered world. Perhaps being a big dealer, with many expensive sales staff, will be a disadvantage in the future? Can the dealers trust the vendors to look after their interests?

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