A group of MSP experts have singled out CRN's compilation of the 21 most brutal burns from our recent Vendor Report for discussion in their latest podcast.
Published last month, our article invited readers to match some of the most savage soundbites from the 2021 iteration of the report with the correct vendor, with one MSP respondent commenting that "it is easier to speak to God than my account manager" (for balance, some of the most glowing comments can be viewed here).
It caught the eye of MSP group The Tech Tribe, which used the article to stimulate a discussion on the vendor-partner relationship in their latest 'Behind the Geeks' podcast.
"Every single one" of the 21 burns rang true for Pete Matteson, a former MSP owner who is now a business coach and content creator.
"I see a lot of [comments] in there where I nod my head and say ‘yep, I've had that, yep I've had that...'," he said.
"It's the reaction of the vendors that's the main thing for me. If they've got the best intentions, great. To highlight one vendor [mentioned], ConnectWise have had huge changes in the last few years, but every time I speak to people there they are trying their best."
The CRN Vendor Report 2021 saw 335 execs at UK resellers and MSPs rate up to five of their core vendors out of 10 on four core categories. We also invited them to leave anonymous, no-holds-barred written feedback, and they duly submitted over 4,000 meaningful comments. Although some vendors were praised for their amenable, knowledgeable staff, market-leading technology and easily accessible, generous programmes and schemes, others got short shrift. One likened staff at one of their vendors to "vultures".
CRN Essential subscribers can read an Executive Summary of the report here.
'I live and breathe Microsoft, but they don't know my name'
Scott Riley, founder of Microsoft partner Cloud Nexus, said during the podcast that MSPs should be realistic about the level of service they can expect from a vendor if they are not one of its top-spending partners.
"My primary vendor [Microsoft] doesn't care about me because I don't spend enough," he said.
"They have to focus on who spends the most money with them and their products, and who is pushing [their products] out ahead of everything else. I'd like to think in my previous roles we were a big deal with Microsoft in the UK, but in my current position we are just not. So I can understand it when they [the partners quoted in the CRN article] say ‘hey, I cant get hold of a product manager; they only care about me when I've got a sale'. Yeah, probably because you're not spending enough with them. And this is coming from a guy who will leave, breathe and die Microsoft, but they don't know my name."
The Tech Tribe founder Nigel Moore agreed that MSPs should cut their vendors some slack if they are acting in good faith.
"Every vendor is going to break things, but it's [about] how the vendor responds and how they treat you through that process. Every vendor you deal with is going to get something wrong just like we get stuff wrong in the MSPs. Some MSPs out there need to take a bit of a gut check into what they are bringing to that relationship and rightsize their expectations," he said.
How to become your vendors' favourite partner
Richard Tubb, who is a blogger, speaker and author - and former MSP boss - urged MSPs who feel they aren't getting sufficient attention from their vendors to be proactive.
"What we did as a really small MSP back in the day was actually ask our account manager ‘how can we become your favourite partner'? We asked the account managers ‘what are YOU bonused on; what do YOU get paid for'? Sometimes the answers we got back surprised us. It wasn't all licenses. We worked with Trend Micro and our account manager told us she got compensated on the amount of [our] engineers that get certified. We said ‘we can help with that - we'll commit to getting all our engineers certified, and every user group we go to we'll tell them how awesome Trend Micro are'. Suddenly we started getting a load of leads back. You've got to think of the human approach. We did exactly the same approach with Microsoft and ended up being one of the first MSPs in the UK to roll out Windows 7, a year ahead of everyone else."