What is the most important factor to consider when evaluating the many channel programmes offered by technology vendors? In many cases, the emphasis is placed on margin: how much profit is there to be made by selling one vendor’s products and solutions rather than its competitors?
While undoubtedly important, there are other elements to a partner programme that should be given just as much consideration as profit.
The level and quality of account management offered by a vendor is a critical factor. Resellers need access to, and support from, the vendor’s sales team if they are to take full advantage of sales opportunities. Vendors need to be prepared to react and respond to the needs and feedback of the partner, and by implication, their customers.
Another question partners need to ask is to what extent will their prospective deals be protected by the vendor. Another partner walking in and sealing the deal by offering a cut-down price is the ultimate frustration after months of hard work and negotiation. Vendors offering deal-registration services help to alleviate this problem and reward the partners that have invested the most resources in the prospective sale. By registering their deals early in the sales cycle, partners can stake their claim and avoid being usurped by competitors.
In addition, partners should assess the breadth and quality of the sales tools provided by vendors. Do they offer an analysis of competitive solutions and advice on how to sell against them? Do they share intelligence on market forces and developments that could impact a partner’s approach to particular deals? How do they address renewals and upgrades?
Finally, a vendor’s market position and vision are also important. Are they the major player in the market, or the small, niche firm? One thing to look out for is whether a vendor appears to be capitalising on overall trends. For example, the convergence between security and storage continues at a rapid rate, allowing forward-thinking vendors – and thus their partners – to capitalise on customer desire for holistic security solutions capable of securing data at every stage of its lifecycle.
Not one of the vendor offerings mentioned above, or its overall market position is a satisfactory excuse for shrinking margins, but these considerations should form part of an overall discussion around which vendors a partner should engage with. That said, all of these factors will affect a partner’s bottom line sooner or later, so as usual money plays a big part.
Jo Pettifer is Partner Programme Manager EMEA at RSA for SecurWorld.
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