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Partnering done right

Resellers are ambulance chasers!

They came into the deal after I had already sold the product to the customer and wanted to make money from my hard work, I’m the vendor sale rep, I know what the customer needed and I sold it!

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve heard words to that effect or worse a partner has lost out financially because the sales rep decided that they would go direct and sell to the customer, the reasons?
  • I would have lost margin?
  • The partner isn’t strategic?
  • The Partner would have recommended another product if I hadn’t gone direct?

There is obviously a difference between a strategic partner and a real ambulance chaser, but in many cases using the “ambulance chaser’ line is simply a way to validate the reasoning behind going direct and removing guilt from the decision.
How many partners are seriously looking to build business on chasing deals? These are one offs and I’d go as far as to say that the deal after an ‘ambulance chase’ would be much more strategic and considered anyway.

What does a good partner do for a customer and a vendor:
  • Firstly they provide suggestions to the customer about what solutions will work for them.
  • A partner is often a strategic resource for a customer, the partner goes beyond a product sale and can provide a broader world view to the customer understanding how a product fits into the end to end solution.
  • Partners have relationships in a customer site that you as a direct rep do not have, they will have insights and contacts that you don’t have. They know people that you don’t know.
  • Partners will be at the customer’s site and have the ear of the buyers when they are next looking for a solution to fix a problem
  • Partners often provide the resourcing to implement solutions for end customers as the customer often doesn’t have the expertise to deliver without.

Every time a direct salesperson sells direct over top of partner who was an incumbent at a customer, a small baby cries …… an emotional and piercing scream that wakes new parents up at night!

What does selling a against a partner do for you as a direct sales rep? Firstly it builds a level of mistrust between you and that partner org. Next time you see them and need to use their expertise they are going to be wary, we are human and we don’t forget easily.
Secondly, it may remove the opportunity for a future sell into a customer. You sold product x, customer is now looking for product y and you won’t even know about it.

What does a partner want from a vendor?

  • Clear and concise messaging, they have potentially 10s of vendors they work with. Messages need to be succinct and catchy
  • Partners need to understand what it is that a vendor can do for them? Is it new markets, is it Professional services revenue?, is it licensing?
  • Trust, most importantly being able to trust that a vendor is there for them.

Simple stuff really but extremely complex for some. We all have the desire to make the most from every opportunity but is it really the best choice longer term?

The above is why partner managers exist, we work with both sides of an opportunity to ensure that the outcome is fair for all involved parties, when there are issues we try to ensure that we can resolve the conflict without harm to either business party. We also ensure that our partners have the right solutions available to them to be able to sell. Making sure they have the expertise and ensuring that we can support them when they go and install our vendor solutions.

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