Trusting In One Another

Too many resellers and distributors forget that they are there to add value. Otherwise the terms value added reseller and value added distributor become meaningless. This is common sense, but companies on both the reseller and vendor sides sometimes see one another as opponents in a battle to win a customers hard-earned cash.

Channel conflict is counter-productive for both parties. The only way to build sales is to build trust; if the relationship is strong, the reseller will naturally want to work with the vendor and both will gain from improved sales.

From the vendors perspective, the reseller acts as a vital link between its own business and the consumer. As such, it should aim do all it can to ensure that the relationship works. If there is the slightest element of doubt in the relationship, then the reseller can and some do sell conflicting products.

The resellers challenge is to encourage customers to purchase through them, rather than from a rival or directly from the vendor. To do this, it has to offer the value add. For some, this means offering specialist consultancy services, for others it simply involves educating customers. Very few buyers, after all, know exactly what they need to solve their IT problems.

When resellers are offering a specialist sell for example, when selling security software their role is even more important in educating the customer because these are mission-critical applications. In this instance, the resellers role becomes one of security consultant by helping an organisation safeguard its assets.

This relationship of trust is not a utopian ideal; it can be and in some instances already is a reality, but it does require hard work on both parts. The first task for any vendor is to reassess its existing relationships with Channel partners and ask itself whether there are mutual benefits gained in every relationship.

Next, it should reconsider the number of distributors it partners with; the chances are it will be more than it needs. In the short term, having many channel partners may look like it will boost sales simply by putting your product in front of more customers. But in the long term, quality rather than quantity should be a companys goal. By aligning its business more closely with a select group of premium Channel partners, a vendor can build better relationships, involve itself more in the sale and develop initiatives that benefit both parties.

These might range from joint business planning, training and technical support, co-branded marketing activities (such as e-campaigns), shared leads, and joint sales support (at seminars and trade shows). But they all act as a cost-effective way of promoting both businesses to new and existing customers.

A good channel partner is a long-term partner and it works in both companies favour to exploit every opportunity they have to develop their relationship further.

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