To All Channel Vendors – Shut-up and Listen

I know I am not alone in thinking that most vendors just don’t get what the channel is all about. For example, take IBM. While fear is mounting in the industry towards software providers, hardware providers, cloud providers …what do they do? I honestly do not know. I have met IBM at many channel events. Last year I was talking to an IBM rep and I said to him, “You know… the problem I have with IBM, is that every time you guys get up to speak at a conference,  I ask myself at the end of the speech, ‘What the heck are they talking about’.” The rep laughed and said, “You are exactly right.  IBM just does not understand the channel.”

After just returning from a conference, this thought came to mind. So what should we demand as solution providers from Vendors, or as they like to call us “Partners”? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Structure – You can’t hire a channel manager and claim you have a channel program. You need a structure to your partner program. We want to know the what, how, and when – in an easy to understand format or formats.
  2. Don’t Compete – I still think it is odd that vendors are arrogant enough to think that solution providers don’t care. To all associations out there that put on shows, stop inviting sponsors that compete with the channel.
  3. Availability – I may not need you often all the time, but when I need you, I want you to be available.
  4. Some Love – Call me crazy, but I like to be “wined and dined” (Well ok, dined, since I don’t drink) when I am at conferences. It shows me that you know who I am and you are willing to take some time to get to know me and my needs. Freebies, SPIFS, contests, etc …show me the love!
  5. Professionalism - Act like a business. Hire reps that understand solution providers and are willing to meet on our terms and teach us the tricks of the trade. Hire reps that speak well, and that don’t make things up.
  6. Response – If I send an email, or leave a voice-mail, I do not expect an answer right away (unless I say so), but at least acknowledge me and let me know when you will get back to me.
  7. Margin – If you want me to sell your product, I expect margin. If you are coming at me with a product that I can’t get a 30% to 65% margin from, don’t even talk to me. I know you have a business to run, but so do we.
  8. Testimonials - If you cannot drum up testimonials from partners, and that are current clients still, then don’t expect me to consider your product too much. If you are new and don’t have testimonials …. refer to 4 and 7.
  9. Training – Make it available in many formats …on-demand Internet based at a minimum. You need to cover sales, marketing, technical and any other areas that will make us more successful in selling your product. Produce sample marketing documents, sales scripts, rebuttals, implementation plans, etc… Tech me what I don’t know I don’t know.
  10. Simplicity – I don’t want a 40 page pricing sheet. I know you really want me to sell everything you have, but tough luck, I have a business to run.  Narrow down your products and services to a core set (See #7), focus on those, create programs and offers around those. If I need something more, I will contact you.

Did I miss any? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.