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8. THE DOLLARS JUST DON'T MAKE SENSE
Sometimes it's a case of the incredibly shrinking margin. Other times it's a pay-to-play scenario where solution providers have to pony up to join a program. Whatever the case, one of solution providers' deep-seated peeves is when vendors simply don't respect the financial aspects of supporting channel partners. Another California solution provider is decidedly ticked off about having to pay fees to join partner programs run by Microsoft, Citrix, VMware and other vendors. "You pay a fee to be a partner," he said with some exasperation. "It's a mandate; you have no choice."
And what do partners get for those fees? One thing they're supposed to get are sales leads, the solution provider executive said, but "it's usually no leads."
7. DON'T YOU TRUST ME?
Some peeves revolved around issues of trust and communication. "One area I do wish they would focus a bit more on is trusting the partners," said Louis Le, marketing director at Gibraltar Solutions, a Mississauga, Ontario-based solution provider. "From a program perspective, a lot of times they actually fabricate the program first, then tell us, 'Here's how it's going to be run.' I wish that they would come back to partners and say, 'What is it you want to see? And here's the money to pay for the growth and the program itself. We trust you to do right with that particular investment.' "
6. REVOLVING DOOR OF CAMs
There are few things more deflating to a vendor-partner relationship than the instability that comes from an ever-changing cast of channel account managers (CAMs). The California solution provider who had complained about paying fees notes that it's easier to build "synergy and momentum" with vendors when partners develop long-term relationships with CAMs.
Problem is, people don't hold those jobs very long, making it difficult to develop those relationships. One vendor, GFI Software, has assigned the solution provider 13 CAM representatives over the past four years. Some vendors, he said, "change your CAMs out from under you as often as people change socks."
GFI did not respond to requests for comment.
5. DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT WE DO?
Some vendors "don't make enough effort to understand the business strategy of the partners they depend on," said one solution provider based in the U.S. Northwest. "They're caught up in their own strategy."
One example: The channel partner quoted above is an ISV that builds its apps on a major vendor's platform. But while the ISV is trying to make a name for itself, the vendor's brand "is all over the inside of their software. It complicates our ability to sell a vertical solution," he said.
Chalk it up to OEM ignorance, said another solution provider. "They simply don't know who we are, what we do, and how we help them."