What’s important to your indirect channel?
It’s an all-too-common question from IT vendors: “How can I get my resellers to sell more of my stuff?”
OK, it’s usually put in more business-like terms such as “wallet-share”, “percentage of business” or “partner penetration”; but it’s always the same question.
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.
A few weeks ago I was at a software vendor’s conference where they were spruiking the benefits of being a partner. The whole pitch was around being a services-lead business: how your business acumen and technical know-how will give the end customer the confidence to let you guide them on their IT journey, during which you can deliver best-in-class products as part of a total solution. There was lots of talk about consultancy selling and managed services.
In her excellent e-book “Channel Strategy & Marketing . . . for the Rest of Us” Jacqueline Franklin makes the observation, “A thriving channel is a business imperative for any company that wants to scale. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to name one billion dollar company that doesn’t use indirect channels.
“Many companies in the B2B technology market … with a formidable direct sales force (Oracle, EMC, etc.) … [concede] that they needed additional logistical and services capacity, especially if they wanted to reach the mid-market. Indirect channels, in other words, are critical to growth and are here to stay.”
Finding questions you can answer with a “definite maybe” is one of my great joys in life. However, whether vendors should treat resellers as customers is definitely not one of these questions. There’s no “maybe” about it; resellers are not vendor customers, definitely.
At the top level my view is simple: customers buy products or services for their own use; resellers on-sell products or services to someone else, usually with some added value.