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10. PARTNER DEVELOPMENT ISN'T EVEN ON THE RADAR
Sometimes channel partner programs are so hung up on dollars and cents that they miss the mark when it comes to helping solution providers build up the larger business opportunity. In short, too much focus on sales and incentives while not enough focus on partner development, said one solution provider executive who asked not to be identified. "If the partner program doesn't help a partner build a practice around their products, it's worthless," said one New York metropolitan area executive.
Many times, vendors put partner development on the back burner when they can't see past the shock and awe of their own products, said a solution provider executive in Southern California. "The OEM entirely overlooks the value-added advantage a VAR brings to them, beyond their product," he said.
9. VENDORS ACT LIKE WE'RE NOT IN THIS TOGETHER
Some vendors feel like they bestow a holy blessing on their partners every time they utter the phrase "extended sales force," but in many cases, solution providers don't want to be seen as employees of their technology vendors; they want to work hand in hand.
"Many vendors view the channel as just another commissioned salesperson," said a solution provider executive who works with a number of leading IT vendors, including Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard. "They treat us as if we work for them, rather than working together to support the customers," he said.
One of the worst sins a vendor can commit in Phil Mogavero's eyes is to roll out products to an unprepared partner base.
"Vendors produce technology, put it out on the market, and say, 'Here it is, go implement it, go support it, go make it work,' " said Mogavero, vice president and regional CTO of PCM, a Calabasas, Calif.-based solution provider. "What they don't realize is how expensive it is to do that right. So my biggest pet peeve is when vendors produce new technology, they need to make sure that VARs are enabled from an implementation perspective and from a selling perspective.
"If they want technology to be successful, they need to work hand in hand with the VAR as a partner, not as someone that's just out selling their wares," Mogavero added.
Don Felman, sales director at IT Savvy, an Addison, Ill.-based solution provider, said it's not that hard to keep channel partners happy. "All we ask is that they work with us," Felman said of his technology vendors. "Obviously we're bringing them quite a bit of business. So we want them to try to be as flexible as possible with us. Some are [flexible, but] others we do struggle with. And you see those sales affected by the relationship."