Although it’s impossible to please everyone in today’s market all the time, vendors can improve relationships and enhance partner experience by focusing their efforts on communications. Ah, the much-desired ease in doing business. Let’s call this the IT channel’s “forever problem” when it comes vendor relationships.
It’s true. It’s true. Most solution providers, MSPs, and other IT channel partners will tell their customers that they regularly assess vendors on how easy or difficult it is to work together. Does the vendor communicate effectively and efficiently? Are they adhering to their established rules of engagement Transparency in pricing Do you respond quickly to technical support issues? Return a telephone call? You get the idea. Vendors are also aware of partner scrutiny, and behind-the scenes kvetching. CompTIA’s Partner Perspective Trends 2022: Vendor Perspective research found that vendors and partners need a harmonious relationship. They say they work hard to achieve it and see the same benefits for their partners as well. Vendors are quick to point out the many – and very real- challenges vendors face in making everyone happy in today’s market. It is not easy to accommodate many partners with different business models, sizes, and vendor relationship preferences.
Doing it all might not be possible, but vendors can begin to smooth out relationship wrinkles and up the partner experience by focusing on improving this one key area: communications.Related Content: Partner Experience Trends: The Shifting Dynamic Between Vendors and their Partners | Trend Watch
Effective communication leads to more positive partnerships
This topic covers a lot, it is true. As cybersecurity topics should cover all technology implementation discussions and communications should be seamless across all levels of partner interaction, How vendors communicate with partners is an important indicator of the partner experience, whether it’s channel marketing, recruitment, onboarding, training or quarterly business reviews. It is also a key indicator of ease of doing business.
Effective communication does not have to be complicated. Sometimes, it’s just being responsive and giving the feeling of being heard that can influence a partner’s opinion of a vendor. Even if the answer doesn’t exactly match what a partner is looking for, the fact that the vendor responded promptly and honestly can help strengthen the relationship. Modifying your pricing terms? Curtailing certain benefits? Communicate well in advance. Partners will want to know when and why changes will occur, as well as whether mitigation strategies are available to help them. Many vendors would benefit from learning how to effectively communicate the news. Change is inevitable in this industry.
It’s not only how you deliver the information but also the channels you use. Email blasting to all partners is no longer an option. Vendors should instead try to meet their partners where they are, and cater to their needs. This means that vendors should support a variety of communication channels, from phone to social to video to automated robots to in-person events to video to mobile to video. Vendors will need to profile their partners in order to identify the different types of personas within their ecosystem. This can be done by identifying their business model, industry focus, and size. After this, vendors can map partner types to their preferred communication channels for maximum impact.
Good communication is important for both business and technical support. CompTIA’s study found that partners cited long wait times to get tech support as their number one concern. Vendors’ poor performance in partner experience is the number one deterrent. Nobody wants to be on hold, or worse, hear nothing when they need it. However, if partners have clear expectations and strong communication, they may be more open to non-instantaneous support.
Let’s finally talk about distribution. The logistics and information flow can be difficult to manage for small channel firms, as partners are working with an average of 5-9 vendors at once. Distributors are adapting to help partners navigate the myriad vendor noise. Distributors are also helping vendors with partner training, particularly business training. A single point of contact, in the form distribution, can remove a lot of complexity from the multivendor relationship of the average partner.