Guest Column | September 24, 2013

Channel Vendor/Partner Relationships: How Opposites Attract And Stay Together — Or Not, Part 1

Dede Haas, CA-AM, channel sales strategist, DLH Services, LLC

If a channel sales partnership is to be successful, it’s all about the relationship between the vendor and the partner. There can be all kinds of fancy channel programs and spiffs, but if the channel partner does not feel treated as a legitimate business partner, the partnership will not work.  

Part I: Love At First Sight?

Q: When a vendor comes calling, should you jump in with both feet or play coy?

A: Play coy — Show reluctance to make a definite commitment

The New York City based VAR was won over by the vendor who promised quick sales and healthy margins. They signed up immediately to be partners. Was that a good idea?

The vendor had come in with a convincing dog and pony show about their “wiz bang” products and services, persuading the VAR to jump right in and commit to a partnership. The VAR saw dollar signs everywhere during the presentation, but nothing about the vendor’s channel program, products and services training, or sales expectations. There was no mention how the relationship was going to be managed. Also, it was apparent the vendor did not know the VAR, their history, and their business. Did they want to know?  None of these matters were discussed before the agreements were executed.  The new partner knew there was a potential to make money selling the vendor’s products but not how.

During the on-boarding process, the partner realized the two parties really did not know each other very well.  Should the partner have been reluctant to move forward without knowing more about the vendor? 

Sound familiar?

Forming a partnership with a vendor starts with the relationship. A vendor can have the world’s best products, and a partner can have the world’s best sales team, but neither will be successful if there is no rapport.

What can you do to ensure your partnership with a vendor will have a positive and profitable outcome?  Before contracts are signed, sit down, get to know one another, and ask the right questions, such as:

  • Why does your company use the channel to sell their products and services?
  • How does your company view channel partners?  How are they welcomed by the sales, marketing and management teams?
  • What steps do you take to get to know the partner and their business model?
  • What is the best partner profile for your product and services?
  • How do you support the partner?  What resources are available to help the partner sell?

If a vendor and a partner are not a good fit, they should re-think the partnership.

Do you have any good stories?  I would love to hear from you.

Editor’s note: This the first of five articles in a series. Haas is planning to base the fifth article on your experiences. Please comment below or contact her directly.


An award-winning high-tech sales professional and founder of DLH Services, Dede Haas creates innovative and successful channel sales solutions for the vendor and the partner. She has developed and managed channel partner programs for enterprise and cloud based products and services for small and medium businesses and for industry leaders, such as Intel Corp.  For the partner, she has managed the vendor relationship, created business opportunities, and developed and conducted product training.  She has her Certification of Achievement-Alliance Management (CA-AM) from the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals. Have a question, comment, or story you would like to share with Dede?  If so, please contact her at  or +1 703-448-1710.