The relationship between resellers and vendors has always been thorny. It cannot be any other way. Each wants something from the other: the reseller wants maximum discount and best support, the vendor supplier wants maximum revenue at lowest cost of sale. The objectives are mutually exclusive.
Many resellers and their vendors do succeed in turning their relationship into something satisfactory to both sides. But it rarely comes easy. Those who do achieve good partnerships do so because they realise that despite the inherent conflict, each is also seeking stability and long-term business.
The issue of support is often particularly vexed. Resellers say that vendors claim to offer plenty but too often it comes with strings attached; vendors claim that resellers expect far more support than slim margins will allow them to g ive. Most of the problems stem from the fact that vendors use resellers to reduce the cost of getting product to market and resent, or ignore, the idea that it may actually cost as much, if not more, to support an indirect channel.
The vendors which manage to keep their resellers happy are those which have acepted this and are prepared to invest in the channel as if it were their own direct sales arm, or at least an extension of it. It is hard to make generalisations. No vendors are identical, nor are the resellers. Some are enlightened, others still live in the Dark Ages. And, human nature being what it is, few resellers have a good word for their suppliers.
One thing seems clear: channel management and support cannot stay the way they are now. There are already changes in the way most vendors look after their resellers. Attitudes are changing and the practicalities of account management are becoming more refined.
The days when a rep would do the rounds of all the resellers on his patch are all but over. As Mike Briercliffe, chairman of UniForum UK points out, that is an extremely inefficient way of managing the channel.
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