by Dede Haas & The ASCII Group
Getting the take – and maybe a little advice – from members of The ASCII Group on what solution providers are thinking and doing on a range of important channel topics.
By Dede Haas, CA-AM, Channel Sales Strategist, DLH Services, LLC
Channel sales strategist and coach Dede Haas is founder of DLH Services, which helps technology vendors and partners create innovative, successful channel sales solutions and programs. Here, Haas discusses partner recruitment with two members of The ASCII Group, a 1,300-member organization of North American VARs, solutions providers, and MSPs offering services to help its members grow their businesses. Check out Haas’s Channel Knowledge Nuggets newsletter at dlhservices.com for tips and stories from the trenches.
KIM NIELSEN is founder, president, and
CHRISTOPHER BARBER is the chief nerd at Maryland-based Cheaper Than A Geek. Barber founded the firm in 2000 to serve the residential market. Today, the company specializes in helping small businesses with fewer than 20 employees with outsourced IT on a budget.
QUESTION 1: Do vendors do a good job recruiting potential channel partners, and why or why not?
NIELSEN: I think, overall, they are doing a good job, especially the more mature vendors. I find, what I’m going to call the immature vendors, more the startups, seem to struggle a little with their message. Their sales calls are similar to, “Hey, we’ve got a great platform we want to talk to you about.” Well, I don’t have time for that. You’ve got to give me something that’s going to intrigue me a little more. Whereas, I think the seasoned vendors understand that instead of trying to bring us on board for their products, they really need to bring us on board for the benefits those products can bring to our organization.
BARBER: I think most of them do a pretty good job and I would say that the best example of that would be at trade shows where they’ve got an exhibit and actively pursue you by clearly differentiating themselves from their competitors.
Another good example would be with Microsoft Exchange and their unique boardroom format. If you meet certain size, revenue, or vertical criteria, they’ll fly you out and put you up at a hotel. In return, they’ll ask you to participate in their boardroom meetings. So you’re in the same room with the same 20 similar type MSPs from different parts of the country and the vendors pay for the privilege. They get time with you to make their pitch, and a lot of times those pitches are very informative.
QUESTION 2: What specifically can they do better during the recruitment stage?
NIELSEN: I did talk to one vendor once where I wanted technical information on their platform and the salesman knew nothing about it. I understand when you’re recruiting a partner, you really aren’t selling to a technical person, but we’re in a technical business. So I think the salesperson has to have at least the buzzwords and a little bit of knowledge of where we’re coming from and what we’re trying to do for our clients, and that we’re looking at technology behind some of these solutions also.
BARBER: When vendors sign up and pay money to be sponsors for a trade show, they get a list of everybody that went to this event. What I don’t like is a hard sell after the fact. A little follow-up is OK. Some of these sales folks will purport to have an existing relationship with me in the hopes of gaining a callback, and I have always had a major problem with the deceptive sales process. I know in our business, we get such a high volume of calls on Monday. It never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople call on Monday!