What Do Channel Partners Really Want?


Over the past few weeks I’ve been speaking with many reseller partners, of all types and sizes, worldwide. While I wasn’t specifically interviewing them about what they want from their vendor partners, I ended up having some great conversations about just that.

So, what do resellers want from their vendors, i.e. OEM or software partners?

What struck me was the fact that what resellers want isn’t as obvious as you might think. Resellers have distinct preferences when it comes to marketing, sales, and operations.

Let’s start with what resellers want from vendor partners when it comes to marketing.

In general, resellers struggle with vendor supplied marketing campaigns, specifically the timing of the campaigns and vendor events. From the reseller’s point of view, they are allocating resources to running and following up on vendor campaigns. However, far too many vendors run campaigns that are not aligned to the end customer buying cycles but rather, they’re aligned to their own quarterly calendars. That’s because vendors are not typically considering the nuances of specific vertical markets.  As an example, when a vendor runs a marketing campaign targeting education in June, they are completely missing the mark. Resellers know that all education business closes at the end of June, which means the reseller is focused on capturing budget at that time, not creating new opportunities. Marketing campaigns to drive top of funnel should be taking place in September, when education is building budgets.

In addition to timing campaigns correctly, leads generated through the campaigns need to be exclusive to the participating reseller.  Sharing leads between a group of resellers results in end user prospects being overwhelmed by multiple resellers attempting to get their business. And speaking of leads, vendors need to stop considering contact lists and/or attendee lists as leads. Resellers want sales ready leads, that is, leads that have been qualified with a buying intention within 12 months.  A sales ready lead provides infrastructure data not publically available, multiple contacts, and a basic understanding of the technology opportunity─what is the company trying to do and when.  Interestingly, it seems distributors are doing better at providing sales ready leads in general than vendors themselves.

Finally, vendors must remember that in the majority of two tier resellers, marketing resources are limited. Many times at tradeshows or in calling campaigns the reseller and their capabilities or qualities are not highlighted.  This disconnect unties the end user from the reseller while still keeping the lead warm for the vendor and other partners. But an integrated campaign, that highlights why the best choice for the end user is to work with the reseller and the vendor together for the offer, keeps the reseller relevant in both the mind of the end user and also with the vendor.  Marketing relevance.

Next up Sales Relevance.

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