What Makes a Good Vendor–Reseller Partnership?
The vendor-reseller dynamic is a vital component of the telephony business landscape, and one that should be nurtured whenever possible. With the recent launch of Snom’s Community Portal, we have been thinking long and hard about what makes a successful partnership between a vendor and a reseller.
On the surface, a vendor wants a reseller who understands the product, does not create commercial or technical issues, and has the know-how to sell significant inventory. The reseller, in turn, wants low pricing, a reliable product, and plenty of leads generated from the vendor. But isn’t there more to a partnership than that? We believe so.
Beyond the basics of price, margin, and customer service, here a several characteristics to be mindful of when forging outstanding vendor-reseller partnerships.
A good reseller is one who cares about, and understands, the products they are selling. They have a passion for doing what they do, and their commercial and technical personnel understand the key features and benefits of the products. Perhaps the most important way for resellers to facilitate both of these characteristics is to provide high quality, ongoing training to employees.
Information acquired through training should be applied as quickly as possible, as busy companies have plenty of customers to serve. If there is a cost associated with the training, the reseller should be confident they are getting a return on investment.
Be mindful that technical training for commercial personnel needs to be at the right level for those involved. The jargon in the business phone industry is enough to make even the most tech-savvy head spin with confusion. Therefore, pay close attention to training sales and marketing personnel, whose backgrounds may not have equipped them with technical knowledge about the product.
If the vendor can cut through buzzwords and simply focus on the defining, unique features of each product, then the reseller’s team will be equipped with the right information to help customers make informed decisions.
Product and technical expertise is important, but perhaps even more important to the successful vendor-reseller partnership is the reseller’s clear understanding of the customer’s needs. Not only do resellers need experience in the IT/Telecom market, but they need an appreciation of the commercial issues the customer is facing — such as cost of support and provisioning, changing regulations and pressures, seasonal changes, and financing considerations.
For the reseller, the fast-paced IT/Telecom market can be a challenge. The vendor faces different kinds of challenges, typically being one step removed from the end customer and reliant on reseller feedback. A good partnership has two-way feedback on requirements and issues. This, of course, demands both time and patience from both parties and can be difficult to achieve when trying to close the next sale or launch a new product.
A common strategy
The vendor-reseller partnership is strongest when both parties share a common strategy. Strategic resellers and partners can open the door for the vendor to new vertical markets, which may otherwise be inaccessible or require significant marketing investment to enter. Vendors can offer resellers a new type of product in their portfolio, which can provide value and increased revenue for the business.
A strategic discussion to establish that both parties have common goals is an important part of forming a partnership. Establishing these objectives encourages the flow of information, ultimately increasing success and revenue for both sides. Vendor and resellers, furthermore, should share in the resources they invest in this success.
Time to engage
Time can be the enemy of good sales partnerships, so be sure to budget it wisely. Excellent time management separates quality vendors from the rest of the pack. Often working under pressure to his sales targets and make deadlines, vendors know they need to set performance expectations. In addition to working on their own tasks, they must prioritize helping their reseller partners develop and execute on strategies.
Understanding both parties’ positions is key. Vendors and resellers should ensure each other’s jobs can be completed as smoothly as possible — removing barriers, opening communication, and sharing resources for success.
Back office support
Behind every great reseller and vendor is a hard-working back office team. Customers not only buy products, they buy relationships. They want to view companies and understand their inner-workings and overall character. They want to see consistency across all parts, and how those parts fit together.
Dissent between vendor and reseller is likely going to turn customers off. After all, the customer is only concerned about solutions — not internal politics of the companies from which they purchase. To keep customers satisfied, ensure that your back office helps maintain a flow of information and positive outlook in day-to-day operations.
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Partnerships between resellers and vendors are more than meets they eye. Finding vendors with good products is often the easy part, but finding ones with a superior partner support structure and reseller-centric strategy can be more of a challenge. Be sure to take time building these relationships, because when they are done right, they will help to ensure ongoing success when it really matters.