This year's CRN Vendor Report features its fair share of success stories.
The 200 reseller respondents were asked not only to rate their vendors on four key service criteria, but also invited them to give open-ended, anonymous feedback on the vendors that had most delighted - and frustrated - them over the last 12 months.
Many of the 38 vendors featured were lauded for their knowledgeable staff and top-notch technology and support.
But vendors who took deals direct, made glitchy products, over-promised and under-delivered, or who gave the impression that they were indifferent to the channel scored poorly and were also given a drubbing in the comments section.
Although there was a lot of love for some manufacturers, others got it in the neck, with the worst offenders variously labelled "inward-facing", "dysfunctional" and full of "hot air" by unimpressed resellers.
Can you match ten of the most potent comments shown below to the correct vendor logo?
"Their channel management is a mess at the moment and the marketing and sales teams are totally dysfunctional and do not communicate with each other," - marketing manager of a large VAR
"[They] have been the very worst vendor this year by a long way. Their products have become glitchy and we just haven't managed to get the support when needed. Even when we have paid for support, it has taken them months to come to a resolution," - general manager of a small MSP
"All incentives are aimed at high end resellers shifting thousands of licences. On the home products that I mainly sell, they allow me to gain the customer but then offer them a renewal at below the cost price that I can obtain and I lose any percentage follow-up," - director of a small VAR
"[They] have to be the most awkward vendor to deal with, with - for example - copious paperwork to complete to satisfy their processes, just to obtain a simple product quote," - account manager at a small VAR
"Having 2,000 partners in the UK isn't really a strategy, more an invitation to erode margins and loyalty," sales manager at a mid-sized VAR
"[They] change account managers every five minutes and rarely communicate it when they do," partner at a small MSP
"Their programme shows that they don't understand the channel," - consultant at a major MSP
"[Their] products have caused quite a few issues, especially with laptops which had to be replaced," - director of a small MSP
"[They] are overcomplicating the channel. They also make you plead for MDF, putting themselves on a pedestal," - busines development manager at a mid-sized MSP
"[They] have promised changes are coming in their programme to enable more partners going forward. But this has been more hot air than actionable changes, which is disappointing," - director at a major distributor
'Grab and go mentality'
Resellers also gave more generic feedback on how vendors can improve their engagement with the channel, and several key themes cropped up.
Vendors were criticised for changing their accreditations too frequently, not being flexible enough, not being open, failing to reward service-oriented partners, and for using the channel as a lead generation engine.
"There are two types of vendors," said the sales director of one mid-sized VAR. "There are those that provide leads to their channel and fuel growth, loyalty and relationships. And then those that have a short-sighted strategy and see the channel as a lead generation machine. The channel detests them and their employees tend to be those that have had many business cards along the way. The grab-and-go mentality may bring instant success, but in the long-term is not good for their business, relationships or stability."
A consultant at a major MSP said: "All vendors change their programmes too much and clearly use the programmes for lock-in. Accreditation costs are disproportionate to what it gives us."
One managing director of a large software and cloud consultancy lamented that the art of channel management "is dying", while a partner at a small MSP confided that "overall channel management from most vendors has nose-dived in the last year".
"We just never see anyone," they explained.
The marketing director of one major VAR added: "Vendors with more flexibility and willingness to understand our business reap more rewards than those stuck in the traditional Channel engagement model, where we are managed/ unmanaged based on revenue billed as opposed to future growth. As the industry evolves and revolutionises, vendors would do well to forget the past and embrace the now by getting stuck into the business they have identified as offering them longevity, scale and focus. Telling resellers to do it or else no longer carries the weight it once did, when resellers were reliant on the software and hardware they stocked. They have their own services, solutions and IP - and they have the customers."
Conducted between August 2016 and April 2017, the Vendor Report is based on feedback from 200 resellers, MSPs, SIs, consultancies and other channel firms.
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