Just as it is important for vendors to choose wisely when it comes to selecting the appropriate channel partners to work with, it is equally so for channel re-sellers and distributors to take as much care in choosing the right vendors to work with.
The vendor selection process is one of the most important tasks that a channel business will undertake. Without good vendors who provide you with quality products and business services at competitive prices, with good terms and delivery schedules, together with excellent marketing and training support, your company’s profitability and viability will be compromised.
Take the time
Prospective channel partners should take the time to get to know each vendor’s channel sales manager, particularly when choosing from a host of large vendors, each of whom will come with their own set of demands. The channel business needs to be comfortable that the vendor’s channel sales manager will work well with their company.
Prior to joining a channel program, meet with the vendor’s channel manager who would be assigned to you. It’s important to determine whether the manager has the strategic and collaborative skills to ensure joint success.
Early discussions with channel managers are a critical component of the success of the relationship, both for the channel partner and the vendor. Getting to know each other’s corporate (and personal) goals as well as a feel for channel manager’s skill at recommending your solutions, are key determining factors for a channel partner in deciding whether that vendor will be a good fit for their business.
Start by identifying vendors that you think will be a good fit for your current product or service portfolio, or one that fills a gap in your set of offerings that you want to fill because you have identified an opportunity to diversify and secure significant market share.
Negotiate with vendors prior to signing an agreement to ensure that you have the support structure in place to guarantee that the partnership is fruitful for both parties. By locking in the marketing and product training support agreements prior to signing on the dotted line, the prospect of the partnership hitting roadblocks further down the track is reduced significantly.
It is also important to get a good understanding of the history and track record of the vendors you are interested in working with when determining which way to go, as a vendor who has been in business for many years that has a relatively unblemished record when it comes to dealing with its channel is much more likely to be able to provide you with a constant, unbroken supply of products or services. Check testimonials and seek references from some of their clients to confirm their credentials.
Flexibility in ordering product lines is another key consideration. Sometimes you will need a degree of flexibility from your vendor when it comes to changing orders. If the vendor imposes severe penalties for doing so, they may not be the partner for you.
Access to expertise is an important factor too. Having one or more vendor product experts on hand to address any issues from you or your clients is an invaluable and essential resource to have at your disposal.
There are a significant amount of criteria to consider when deciding which vendors to work with, but given the importance of the decision, and the much greater likelihood of success that selecting a vendor who ticks all of those boxes will deliver, it is a process that is well worth undertaking.