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Solution providers face choosing the "just right" channel program out of thousands that are available. Chet Menzione, vice president of channel sales, Quorum, points out that resellers should do some digging to be sure the vendor will treat the solution provider as a real partner, not just a name on a list. Here are his tips for selecting a channel program that will fit your needs.— Jennifer Bosavage
Only when solution providers are treated as true partners -- not just stepping stones for a means to an end -- can the reseller and vendor build their respective businesses, penetrate new markets and realize real success. But despite the emphasis on the vendors' rigorous channel partner vetting processes and their requirements for partnerships, the decision to partner does not lie solely with the vendor. Ultimately, the solution provider is responsible for selecting a channel program that will achieve the business' goals.
Resellers also must evaluate which vendor's program will be the best fit for their own organization. They, too, have the power to eliminate a vendor from consideration based on anything from program complexity, to low margins, to a bad cultural fit.
With vendor partner programs popping up all the time, solution providers must have criteria in place that guide their channel program selection. The following four elements present just such a guide — or, at least, a solid jumping-off point — for discerning resellers looking to strike successful reseller-vendor partnerships.
[Related: CRN's Partner Program Guide]
1) Make Sure the Discounts Count
A vendor that offers a discounted price for registered sales opportunities can lure a reseller to its partner program, but resellers shouldn't be tempted too easily. If there is not enough of a delta between standard and registered pricing, the reseller will have a harder time winning business over a competing reseller. Partner programs that offer a significant delta for registered sales opportunities protect resellers from losing out on an opportunity to another reseller over cost.
2) Stand Out in a (Small) Crowd
Larger vendors tend to saturate their geographical markets by signing up resellers en masse, expecting this to bring in more leads. The backlash, though, is certainly felt by resellers that, as a result, struggle to differentiate themselves in a sea of countless others. In contrast, a vendor that takes care to sign up no more than two or three solution providers in each market has empowered the reseller to be successful. That minimized channel conflict is one of the benefits of partnering with a smaller vendor.