Get the Most Out of Your Vendor Relationships

Community Content

comptia logo smallBy Nancy Hammervik

The IT channel is so much more than a product and service pipeline. It’s a collective system of professional relationships,

technical expertise, and customer support and service capabilities. Despite the addition of cloud and managed services, the channel continues to be a value chain that connects consumers, providers and vendors. Today, the IT industry is focused less on discussions around specific products and services and more on creating positive business outcomes. Perhaps that’s why it’s become more important than ever to build and maintain productive partner relationships.

In the SMB space, vendors rely heavily on solution providers to help them sell and deliver a portfolio of products and services — and most suppliers are willing to make significant investments to ensure their partners’ success. In addition to reseller discounts, they typically offer technical and training programs, sales and engineering support services and a wide variety of marketing resources that providers can leverage in their business. Partners who understand how to access and leverage these assets have a greater opportunity to profit.

The overriding objective of any channel relationship should include mutual success. Of course, that goal can easily be clouded when both suppliers and solution providers get distracted by other concerns. The 80/20 rule applies just as much in a channel model, with a vast majority of any vendor’s revenue coming from a much smaller percentage of its partners. That can be a real concern for solution providers who want the attention but fall short with their current sales, but it’s a challenge that creative individuals on both sides of the relationship can overcome. VARs and MSPs can support their suppliers in a number of ways to increase the overall value of their relationships even when their vendors’ specific revenue guidelines are a little out of reach. For example, some vendors:

  • Reward partners for innovation and brand strength: Creating solutions that encompass more of their key supplier’s portfolio or building programs increases customer renewals.
  • Value inclusion in partner business plans: Since many organizations fail to build and maintain these strategy documents, this gesture helps validate their commitment.
  • Appreciate resellers who promote their own brands: Designing and effectively supporting individual solutions is a good way for providers to grow and increase their vendors’ sales opportunities.

That’s why a continued focus on the partner relationship is so critical. When solution providers get the opportunity to describe the significance of the operations they are building with that vendor’s portfolio and support, they typically receive more resources and attention.

In order to meet their own aggressive growth objectives, many vendors recruit both current and future channel stars. They look for partners who differentiate their value propositions since it creates more options for customers – and that increases their opportunities to move more equipment and support contracts. It all comes down to effective communications and successful follow-through. After all, whenever one partner fails to deliver on the commitment they made to the other, it can diminish the value of their relationship.

To learn more about maximizing vendor relationships, check out the range of channel training opportunities that CompTIA has designed specifically to help solution providers strengthen their business operations and improve their sales opportunities.

Nancy Hammervik is senior vice president of industry relations at CompTIA.