Google Resellers Push For End To Channel Conflict

The rallying cry from Google VARs came Wednesday at the GSocial conference in Santa Clara, Calif., a day-long conference for Google resellers and ISVs designed to bring together Google partners and accelerate the adoption of Google Apps.

"We are in a difficult business. Selling Google Apps is very tough. There are so many people fighting against us … We compete against Google," said Louis Nauges, chief cloud evangelist for Revevol, a Germany-based Google VAR with a presence on four continents.

According to Nauges, Revevol has lost several large deals to Google's direct sales, especially when those deals reach above the 10,000-seat mark.

"It happens all the time," he said. "It's very annoying, to say the least."

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Nauges said Google needs to be more transparent and offer resellers a slice of direct sales when it infringes on their territory or a potential customer. He added that Google also needs to adjust its cost structure so partners can match Google's without fear of losing margin.

"Part of the value of my company goes away," Nauges added.

Kevin Lalor, president of Business Intelligence 101, a Livermore, Calif.-based solution provider and Google reseller, said that just this week an existing customer called to say he purchased Google Apps directly from Google.

"It's so easy to become disintermediated during the sales process," he said.

Lalor said the conflict could be prevented with a deal registration program. Google could also ease conflict by asking customers if they've worked with a partner or if they would like to at the time of purchase.

Google Senior Product Manager Scott McMullan acknowledged that Google needs to improve when it comes to channel conflict, and that Google is working to create a more harmonious relationship between it and its resellers. McMullan added Google resellers bring more value to the table than simple resale of Google Apps and said that partners can carve their niche through add-ons and services like deployment, migration, support and consulting.

"I think it's something that we need to get better at," he said, noting that Google will work to help its customers do business and resolve conflict.

McMullan suggested partners focus on building the relationship and showing customers the features and capabilities of Google Apps.

"To me, that's where we need to look; to drive adoption of the fuller solution," he said.

Daniel Stevenson, vice president of partnerships and alliances for Backupify, an ISV that offers a cloud-back up application that integrates with Google Apps, agreed, and said resellers deliver the tools that tie together Google resources.

"You can expose your customers to so much more functionality," he said.

Along with deal registration, Lalor said a partner finder for potential Google Apps customers to use could also help alleviate the conflict.

David Mercer, owner of David Mercer Consulting, a Napa, Calif.-based Google reseller, said channel conflict has not been a major issue in the SMB, though he has lost some deals to Google direct sales. Mercer agreed that a partner locator would be a major win. Mercer said many smaller companies are more comfortable teaming with a local solution provider and the ability to find a local Google certified reseller would help drive new customers.

"I don't see it as a big threat in the SMB segment," he said. "But some SMBs are focused on being local and want a local partner."

JP Werlin, co-founder and owner of cloud PipelineDeals, an ISV that makes CRM for Google Apps, said Google, it's cadre of ISVs and its stable of VARs need to work together to avoid conflict. He said he hopes Google can avoid falling into the conflict trap that has plagued IT vendors for decades.

"We can't survive without each other," he said. "Let's not revert back to this age-old channel conflict, this noise."