Having seen the corporate purse firmly close, the enterprise software giants have spent the past couple of years wooing the SME market - with varying degrees of success.
To reach the previously unknown SME, the big boys needed to partner with SME dealers with a better understanding of the market than their own.
But are those smaller dealers benefiting from working with the likes of Sage and SAP? Are the big vendors treating them with the respect they deserve?
Being one of so many channel partners means that smaller dealers often become lost children in the vendor's extended 'family' - unsupported and left to fend for themselves.
Month after month we see dealers struggling to dance to the tune of a large vendor's accreditation scheme or sales threshold.
Smaller resellers obviously lack the selling power of a larger counterpart. Consequently it is easy to find oneself in a vulnerable position if a vendor decides to cut out less profitable resellers.
If the larger enterprise market does pick up next year, don't be surprised if smaller dealers are shunned when the focus returns to big sales through big dealers.
Aside from support, small vendors also need to consider their own product and service portfolios, particularly when they sell to SMEs.
Most industry giants' software offerings simply have not been developed with SMEs in mind.
Although dealers are well advised to keep their cupboards stocked with the big-brand names, it's also a good idea to have a few more niche offerings up one's sleeve as well.
Now is a good time for dealers to seek out and form partnerships with smaller, more inventive software developers. By doing so, a dealer might well find a product that is more innovative, more cost-effective and easier to install than the ACME alternative.
By working with smaller developers, resellers can approach potential new customers with low-cost, innovative products that can result in a quick win for both the customer and the dealer.
Low-investment products, such as data extraction and simple reporting tools, can provide short-term return on investment for the customer and help cement the dealer's relationship.
A relationship between a SME vendor and an SME dealer is likely to work better than a mismatched relationship between little and large.
A small or growing vendor may also have greater reliance on its channel partners. This brings with it the prospect of better support, from sales to ongoing training.
Sharing a similar size and outlook will often make for a greater mutual understanding than with a mismatched relationship. Indeed, it could be a match made in heaven.
Kevin Jones is chief executive at ERP developer eXant.
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