One trend many of our Selling Solution roundtable attendees were witnessing was stronger bonds between vendor and reseller. Traditionally, in tough times, vendors have reverted to a direct sales model in order to hold onto customers. But many believe this attitude is finally dead and buried. Avaya’s Andy Hurt said the company was tweaking its partner qualification processes and engaging a broader base of resellers to ensure market share long-term.
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen a lot more interaction going on, and vendors getting closer to the business partner community. The high-touch teams are bringing them closer to the customer as well,” GlobalConnect’s Pushkar Taneja said. “So really what’s happens is it becomes more of a team effort. It makes the challenges easier to overcome.”
Tardis’ Paul Cosgrove agreed vendor/channel relationships had strengthened in these tough times, but said it could be hard to get the right balance of interaction.
“We like to be as independent as we can, because you can’t afford to set-up meetings with too many people as it takes too much time. And you have to have the skills, otherwise you’re not doing what the vendor is asking you to do,” he said. “But, yes, you need to be able to bring in the vendor at key times to show there’s support.
“It’s like the aircraft analogy – IBM is the aircraft carrier, and it’s nice to know they’re off the coast, just don’t bring them to port. So timing is really important and the right amount of touch. On the other hand, if the vendor gets scared about a particular opportunity or transaction and then goes over the top and deals directly, it’s really bad.”
Organised Solutions’ John Butel claimed vendors had a better understanding of the importance of channel partners today.
“I have seen the rules change – vendors are sticking to their word. In this market place, IBM should be doing direct. That is what it’s always done in the past. But it’s not,” he said.
“What’s happening today is vendors are getting much more involved because there are fewer opportunities out there and we want to make sure that when we are looking at four or five deals, we’re doing everything we can to ensure the business, and our business, wins,” IBM’s Joe Arcuri said. “Whereas 18 months ago, you had 50 key deals and the average sales closure rate of 30-40 per cent was enough to make your number and year-on-year growth.”
Service Elements’ Mark Johnston pointed out most of the IT representatives around the table had experienced tough times before, including the dot-com bust.
“We’ve actually done this before and vendors have realised they need a channel when we come out the other side,” he said.