Guest Column | December 16, 2014

Channel Sales Vendor/Partner Relationships: What Vendors Want (Part 7)

By Dede Haas, CA-AM, Channel Sales Strategist, DLH Services, LLC

Dede Haas, CA-AM, Channel Sales Strategist, DLH Services, LLC

It’s not love at first sight. It is all about the relationship between the vendor and the partner if a channel sales partnership is to be successful. A better understanding of what a vendor expects from a partner helps the solution provider make well informed and prudent business decisions that have a positive and profitable impact on their organization.

Part 1,  “We wait by the phone but they never call”

Part 2,“Do we really have to talk about business?”

Part 3, “Marketing: Why do we have to get dressed up?”

Part 4, “We really like speed dating. Close and go, we always say,”

Part 5, “We know what we are doing. Why do you ask?”

Part 6, “Like they say, opposites attract … or not!”

PART VII: “We’re just not that into you.”

Is this the relationship you want?

Does this sound familiar? You thought you had done everything right. You showed the vendor you were more than prepared to be their partner, and they were impressed. They told you your business, marketing, sales, technical teams and culture were the right fit and they would love to have you in their partner program. Then six months or a year later, nothing has turned out well. The relationship with the vendor has gone south — they have not given you the attention they promised and you feel ignored even after opening up your existing customer list and bringing in sales. You wish you had never gotten involved and you would like to get out even though you put so much of yourself, your company, your staff, and your resources into forming a partnership that you were determined, by doing all the right things, would be successful for you and the vendor.

Sometimes a partnership just doesn’t work. There can be all kinds of reasons: change in the vendor’s channel leadership, program/product direction, or partner profile; poor communications with the channel manager; or they are simply just not that into you. Should you give up immediately? Not necessarily. If you think it is worth it, there are some things you can try to save the partnership. Though these actions items are expected to be the vendor’s responsibility, the partner sometimes must step in and take the lead.

  • Schedule a program and sales review/update with your channel manager. Take this time to query them on what they think is and is not going well and what can be done to rebuild the relationship.
  • Request a meeting with the channel manager and executives. Be up front with your concerns, ask for feedback, offer and discuss solutions. Let the vendor know you want to continue a dialog with them to right the ship.
  • Ask directly if they want you to continue as their channel partner.

Staying in a toxic or inactive vendor/partner relationship with no hope of changing is not good for the health of your staff and company. If you put the effort into saving the partnership but the vendor is just not engaged, it is time to leave the program. Be professional and don’t burn any bridges during the break-up. Use this as a learning experience for the next time a vendor comes calling.

TIP: Be prepared and have a “Plan B” ready just in case a partnership does not work. This should be developed to help you continue to be financially sound once you cut ties with the vendor.

An award-winning high-tech sales professional and founder of DLH Services, Dede Haas creates channel sales solutions for the vendor and the partner. She has developed and managed channel partner programs for enterprise and cloud-based products and services for small and medium businesses and for industry leaders, such as Intel Corp.  For the partner, Dede has managed the vendor relationship, created business opportunities, and developed and conducted product training.  She has her Certification of Achievement-Alliance Management (CA-AM) from the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals. 

Have a question, comment or story you would like to share with Dede?  If so, please contact her at dede@DLHServices.com or +1 703-448-1710.