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I, like most of my colleagues, have worked with all types of IT vendors: hardware, software, services, and cloud. Each comes to the market seeking to engage with the indirect partners: distributors, resellers, ISVs, service providers, etc. I’ve seen this quest as a vendor’s Holy Grail to success in increasing sales, attracting new customers, and developing new opportunities.

All of these benefits can be realized and can manifest into great things. Take a look at Dell, the once direct selling company now reports over 40% of its sales are driven through the channel.   Good for them! I also see many vendors are investing and working with the partner community.

One point I would like to make and clarify is about the investment. Do the vendors truly invest in the channel to help their partners?  In my opinion, the answer is yes, but too often the partners are expected to invest their time and resources to meet the vendor’s demand before they are able to get visibility into their potential ROI.

One such example is demands for certification. This is often a requirement before the vendor-partner relationship starts. Another is the availability of on-premise products, either for partner’s internal use or development, simply provided as a loaner.

Partners want to build solutions from the vendors’ products, and they get very familiar with the products. This is where a not for resale (NFR) program for qualified partners would serve both vendor and partner well.

Both vendor and partners get to invest in the relationship.  Both have “skin in the game”, both have to get something out of it. Often, the relationship does not seem equitable. Vendors and partners need to think about what each other expects out of the relationship. Vendors should remember that partners have a lot of potential vendor suitors; while partners will assess not only the current, but the future value of the relationship. I advise that vendors and partners need to make the relationship work for each other.