Partner programmes: what a waste of time.
Honestly, if I ever see another mineral-based (Gold, Silver, Bronze), Greek God or planet ranking of yet another 'unique' channel programme, I'll run naked down the street.
Vendors and resellers: let's stop pretending and let's rank partners as they are: Committed, Opportunistic, or Lucky.
Committed: they invest in skills, demo stock, engineering accreditation and demand-generation programmes. They are often the mid-tier players and some global SIs that are value based. Regrettably and ironically, the mid-tier guys are regularly overlooked, do the most and probably get the least.
Opportunistic: usually the bigger incumbent supplier in the account and will jump on the bandwagon when it suits them. For some reason, every vendor loves these guys; they see them as 'owning' the large global accounts and will normally give them a special rating like 'Diamond' or 'Lithium'. They do the least to create business and often get the most (in terms of attention and discount).
Lucky: they can be any of the above, but just happen to know or be well in with the opportunity (such as best friends or family). They do absolutely zero for the vendor or us most of the year, but will land a couple of great deals because they're luckily related somehow to the opportunity. The funny thing is, the vendor's strict rules about what partners get for which category very frequently go out the window when a sale is imminent; there's a sudden bout of instant amnesia, even if the deal has been registered to another partner.
So let's call them as they are and stop wasting money and time on them. Committed get the most attention, support and best commercial terms; Opportunists get OK terms and great support; and Lucky partners get the minimum but are supported if they bring the opportunity - not if they're feeding off someone else's opportunity.
And rebate schemes. Who invented them and why does everyone feel they are due one? Let's do it the old-fashioned way and give more discount if you spend more, not just promise to spend lots.
Not to mention procurement guys, who are paid on how much rebate they get, which totally dislocates the valued technology practice (within the partner) from the buying department, which will make the cost higher in the long run. But the procurement department doesn't care: if the bad install has to be fixed, that comes from the engineering department's budget.
In the long run, rebate is the virus that will kill value. This maybe OK for printers and laptops, but not in the cyber, infrastructure and datacentre business.
As I've said before, distribution is a friend, not food. If the relentless pressure on rebates continues and partner programmes don't do what they say on the tin, vendors and VARs may not like getting what they wished for.
Barrie Desmond is COO of Exclusive Group
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