This article originally appeared in the September 1, 2017 Channel Executive Magazine.
I interviewed Joe Molick, President/CEO of Molick Enterprises, and Brooke Justice, President of Justice IT Consulting LLC, about the onboarding of new vendors.
The President/CEO of Molick Enterprises, Incorporated started his career in electronics with the US Navy. After completing his service, he worked for Burroughs/Unisys as a field engineer. In 1989 he started building computers for customers, which started his business.
Brooke Justice is President of Justice IT Consulting LLC and has been in IT since 1998 in a corporate network/systems engineer role. Brooke officially founded Justice IT Consulting in 2015 as a managed service provider and IT consulting firm and has enjoyed growing a client satisfaction driven business.
Q1: The CEO of an SMB solutions provider, while attending a channel industry conference, met a channel manager from a large, well-known vendor — a software company — that currently has thousands of channel partners. After a lengthy discussion about their program features and benefits, the vendor encouraged the solutions provider to fill out an application to join. What advice would you give the solutions provider about enrolling in such a program? What questions should they ask the vendor?
MOLICK: Review the contract with an attorney prior to signing it. Understand the investment you’re putting into the organization. Inquire about training. Whether that’s offered onsite, off-site, or online will affect those costs. Another thing to consider is how many engineers you need to have on staff if there’s a requirement for that, and the cost associated with it.
JUSTICE: Consider what you already have in place. Is there any overlap? I’m a big believer in using one solution to its fullest. That elusive “one pane of glass” can streamline labor costs and control product costs. Buying more from one vendor also makes you more important to them.
The next question they should ask the vendor is, “Why am I important, and do I get assigned a specific rep?” You may get assigned to a pool of reps. You don’t necessarily get the best support and the best response from those kinds of setups.
You can also ask if there are peer partners, such as another The ASCII Group member, that they can point you to for a reference for the company. If you’re part of the forum, you’ll understand why you would trust their opinion.
Q2: What kind of advice would you give channel managers when they approach a solutions provider to talk about their channel program, encouraging them to join?
MOLICK: Tell us the truth if you are providing help desk service. Are you going to provide answers on the first call? Are you going to answer the call? As vendors for these clients, if we have a question, we’d like to have it answered. And, “yes” is not always the correct answer.
Tell us if you don’t ever answer your phones. Tell us if email is a better option. Be honest about it so that expectations are managed.
JUSTICE: Really understand the company you are trying to sign up. Understand what their business is, what they’re doing, and where they’re going. These vendors want to have a relationship with us, just as we want to have a relationship with our clients. Relationships and trust work a lot better if you take time to truly understand your client and be a better business partner.