What Do Channel Partners Really Want? (Part two)

Sales Relevance!

In the first post in this mini-series blog – What Channel Partners Really Want – I wrote about the need for marketing relevance. That is, how vendors and partners work together to make marketing programs relevant to a partner’s business.

In this post, we turn our attention to a core element of any reseller’s business – SALES.

Reseller organizations are driven by sales. They throw a high percentage of their resources at it. In fact, the reselling business is very transactional in nature, requiring a lot of resources. Until more recently a reseller’s business model was typically built on one-off transactions rather than on a lot of recurring revenue from any one client. But that is changing as resellers develop more managed services. [I’ll save a discussion of the opportunities and benefits of managed services for another post].

The transactional nature of a reseller’s business is emphasized by their focus on individual deals within a client site, which can add up over the course of a year. This “per deal” approach happens because most often the sales team is much more adept at farming existing accounts than finding and closing new client accounts (it’s the 80/20 rule thing – 80% of their business comes from 20% of their customers).

Vendors are, obviously, focused on point solutions and largely rely on their reseller partners to build the long term customer relationships as they support all the various IT initiatives happening within a client’s business. And that’s why a vendor’s sales resources need to focus on supporting their reseller community.

But, what do resellers want from the vendors in terms of sales support? That’s a good question!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from a vendor’s sales people that all the reseller wants is the deal wrapped up with a bow and purchase order on it. This makes me smile because of course a reseller would want those types of “bluebirds”!  That gets them a potential new client as well as some margin from the deal itself.

But vendors and partners alike really want a more sustainable model that aligns their ongoing sales efforts.  When a vendor engages a reseller, based upon their capability to drive and close the deal, it maximizes the vendor’s sales efforts. That requires, however, that the vendor’s sales team truly understands both the sales and operational capability (and capacity) of the reseller organization —leading to greater trust between the reseller and the vendor. Working more closely together enables both organizations to better understand and fulfill client needs. The result? More sales for both organizations!

One of the biggest roadblocks, however, is that vendors’ sales people struggle to find the time to connect and really understand a reseller’s business. They often see it as a distraction from their sales efforts.

Resellers must establish their sales relevance

The reality is that once the vendor and reseller have established a close working relationship they now have more opportunity to scale and exponentially grow sales.  It’s my opinion that developing connections, and ultimately sales planning, between vendors and resellers is the responsibility of the reseller. Resellers need to “sell” their organization and capabilities to the vendor to make sure they are aligned with and relevant to the vendor’s goals.

My advice is for resellers to drive interaction between their sales organization and that of the vendor by creating compelling events and other opportunities to connect with their vendor counterparts.  This investment of time and resources will reap long term rewards.  This is not just a once and done strategy. A regular cadence is needed to build the relevancy of the reseller to the vendor.

Up next in my “What Channel Partners Really Want” series: Operational Relevance

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