Wanna Be A Champ? 5 Things You Must Do

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So what does it take to be a Channel Champion? We hope you will find some answers in this issue of CRN, which is largely dedicated to analyzing the results of one of our largest studies of VAR/vendor satisfaction trends. Basically, a Channel Champion is a company that does a great many things right and gets an assist from some fortuitous market timing (some people call that luck) along with an executive team focused on the partner community. With the exception of a small, elite group, few companies are capable of topping the Channel Champs charts on a consistent basis. So it is no wonder that our IPED organization finds most VARs are less than thrilled with their vendor relationships.

Can be reached via e-mail at rdemarzo@everythingchannel.com.

If you examine some of the macro trends you will find that big vendors did extremely well in overall satisfaction. Many of them have areas where they need to improve, but the top 20 overall scores are littered with big guns including HP, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Seagate, APC, Intel and Xerox. Some midsize vendors including Trend Micro and Liebert also did well.

So here are five tips for vendors that aspire to the lofty perch of Channel Champion.

1. Talk about your product and technology until you drive VARs crazy. When you tally up what partners say is most important, it's the product and technology. Not price, not program, not support. Look at who did the best job and you will find HP, Seagate and Samsung at the top.

2. Get in front of the CEO. The person at the top is driven by one thing—growth. If your Channel Champs scores are great, let the boss know. If they stink, you better get in front of the CEO with a plan for how to fix the problem, and that usually means getting money.

3. Don't overarchitect your channel program. Sure, a partner program is important, but many SMB VARs would prefer to sell your product sourced through distribution rather than join your program.A great program can never make up for a poor product no matter how hard you try.

4. Service sells. VARs give high marks to vendors that present a great service opportunity. From our survey it is obvious that HP in the server space and Cisco in VoIP are doing a good job, but so are Trend Micro, Sage and Microsoft. Think of it this way: A vendor without a services strategy is like the Yankees without Alex Rodriguez or the Red Sox without Manny Ramirez.

5. Know your demographics. Pore over the Champs data to determine if you need to recruit partners to move into new markets, like IBM is doing in its midmarket push. A vendor can never be truly successful if it doesn't understand its partner ranks today or doesn't prepare for the partners it needs tomorrow.

Contact Everything Channel Senior Vice President/Editorial Director Robert C. DeMarzo at rdemarzo@everythingchannel.com.

Robert Faletra, Everything Channel CEO, will return to the Web in our next issue.

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