Love thy channel partners as yourself

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A lack of communication is leaving the channel in a state of damage control, says Billy MacInnes

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Billy

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14 June 2019 | 0

There’s an intriguing game of “guess the vendor” over on the CRN website at the moment in an article headlined “We’d like to dump them like so many bricks”.

While it’s amusing for those not directly affected, it must make for grim reading if you are listed as one of the potential candidates to be matched to the comments quoted in the article, such as “Worst vendor ever. Shocking sales tactics and very anti-channel” or “Irrelevant vendor and just surviving”?

There are plenty of other choice condemnatory remarks on the page. My favourite has to be: “Appalling is probably the best way to sum them up. No leads, poor margins, no partner empathy.” If you’re a vendor who publicly places a high value on your channel partners, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Looking through the comments, it strikes me that much of the dissatisfaction and unhappiness expressed by channel partners is down to a number of factors. Let’s start with communication. Or rather, the lack of it. Plenty of vendors are blithely going along mistakenly believing partners are content because they allow them to sell their products on their terms. In the absence of any meaningful communication between vendor and partner, the first time vendors will find out they are wrong is probably long after they ought to.

Allied to the lack of communication is indifference and a lack of concentration. This happens when vendors, in the words of one of the CRN respondents, “make a big song and dance about their new partner programme” and then nothing is heard about it again. It’s almost as if they believe announcing a partner programme is all that’s required, rather than recognising the work that needs to go into developing, implementing, maintaining, managing and revising a successful channel strategy. It’s an ongoing process, not a one-off announcement.

Arrogant

Which beings us to arrogance. Some vendors obviously feel it’s an innate privilege for a partner to sell their technology and that channel companies should be required to prove their worthiness. They also believe it’s up to the partners to do the work to ensure that their technology works well with products from other vendors. And some of them give the impression that they are too busy and grand to deal with partners themselves.

It seems to me that much of this boils down to an inability by the vendors to see the relationship from the partner’s perspective. While they may believe they are doing a good job in making channel announcements and letting partners know about them, too much of what goes on appears to be a one-way process. You could say that many of the complaints reflect an unwillingness to listen to the needs and responses of their channel. But that supposes there is a clear channel of communication back up the chain from partner to vendor. The evidence suggests, for some vendors at least, that’s a dangerous supposition to make.

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