Guest Column | December 15, 2017

Hey VARs And Integrators - How To Get Your Vendor Relationships In High Gear

By Keith Lubner, Managing Partner of C3, Co-founder of Channel EQ


All resellers, consultants, and systems integrators face staggering challenges in today’s marketplace.  From pricing pressures to being forced to change their processes around subscription models, nothing seems to be easy.  Compounding all of this, vendors in your ever-expanding portfolio expect even more from you.  Therefore, one of your keys to managing through the chaos is getting your vendor relationships into high gear, so that you can meet and exceed their expectations – allowing you to elevate your pipeline, expand your qualified opportunities, and increase your revenue from associated services from each vendor.  We have three suggestions for accomplishing this.

Relationship Rules

The reality in our digital society is that people simply do not talk to one another the way they used to.  We rely too much on electronic communications and consequently our messages are often misinterpreted.  This problem most definitely occurs between the reseller partner and the vendor.  In fact, it’s probably the #1 problem between them.  Each party is trying to establish a relationship through “texting” or “email”, instead of connecting to the other through face-to-face dialogue or phone conversations.  In short, each group is not understanding what the other is all about – their fears, their business objectives, their training needs, their sales issues, etc.  The reseller partners who focus on getting to know their vendors’ channel personnel are the ones who invariably receive more attention from the vendor, receive more leads, and receive more advice.  All of this occurs because of one, very easy shift – focusing first on the relationship. 

Give to Get

We mentioned above that relationships drive everything, so start there first.  But, in order to truly kick the vendor relationship into high gear you have to “give to get”.  I speak to loads of both vendors and their partners.  To each partner, the #1 thing they say is that they would love to receive leads.  To each vendor, the #1 thing they say is that they would love that their partners produce more leads.  A little bit of research into these statements revealed that the vendor was more enthusiastic about giving leads to the partners who first brought opportunities to the vendor.  In fact, the partners received in upwards of 5x the amount of leads in return in some cases.  What we learn here is if you have a “giver” mentality, you will ultimately get more.

Turn the Tables

Vendors sometimes get too focused on themselves and lose sight of you, the partner.  If you wait on the vendor for anything, you delay your success.  And if we have learned anything these days, it’s that those who move fastest win.   We suggest changing the game with your vendors by doing the following:

  1. Share your content before they share their content with you.  The benefit here is blatantly selfish.  You get exposure and you get credit and in turn you create goodwill.  You will naturally rise above all of the competition in the eyes of the vendor.  Plus, you will create eco-system partners – an important component in your expansion.
  2. Initiate vendor review meetings before they initiate partner reviews.  The tactic here is to simply be proactive.  Vendors love when partners are active like this.   It shows interest in growing each other’s business.  Who wouldn’t like that?
  3. Create your own advisory board and insert one or two of your key vendors on it, along with key customers.  The benefits:  you will get insight into industry trends, customer issues, and an understanding of what is working / not working in the market.  And, the nice thing is that your key vendors will hear all of this.  They will appreciate you because you have made them feel important.  In the end, vendors will reciprocate accordingly.  They always do.

Try out the above if you truly desire to shift your vendor relationships into a higher gear.

Keith Lubner, Managing Partner of C3, Co-founder of Channel EQKeith Lubner is an advisor and mentor to several of today’s leading Fortune 500 and technology driven organizations on strategies, tactics, and programs to accelerate growth. Keith has founded three companies and is considered a world-renown expert on enablement, channel sales, channel marketing issues, and channel leadership. His focus and specialty revolves around acceleration strategies, and his training programs and workshops have been delivered across the globe to both start-up and multinational organizations. He is currently Managing Partner of Channel Consulting Corp and Co-founder with Jeb Blount (author of Fanatical Prospecting) of Channel EQ, an organization focused on providing transformational training and enablement tools, workshops, and programs