All four parts of the Successful Channel Relationships series can be found here.

SAS did try again and the second time around is proving to be the charm. The re-launch of their channel program in 2013 allowed SAS to reconnect with some of their previous partners, including DJ Penix, President and owner of Pinnacle Solutions, in what has become a mutually beneficial and profitable partnership.

SAS Senior Channel Account Manager, Scott Reavis, relates that “it was a natural process to go back to Pinnacle. We like to replicate success at SAS. DJ and Pinnacle Solutions have been very successful — not only positioning SAS effectively within an account, but also finding new opportunities for us and making SAS mission critical. By working together, we are able to make the customer successful.”

For Penix, Pinnacle’s focus with “our customers is really more about the relationships, the trust, helping them solve problems, than it is the technology. And I saw SAS wanting to go into the direction of being able to better empower partners to do more of this via the resell channel. So it actually became a pretty good alignment between what we felt was an opportunity for us, and what SAS felt was an opportunity for them to create a win/win.”

Insight #1: You can go back and try the partnership again. If vendor and partner goals and objectives now align, it does not hurt to try anew, which can lead to success – for both organizations.

Reavis believes that “the one key factor that makes any OEM and reseller partnership work is trust. That is the number one priority. As the OEM, SAS must trust its reseller to go out and have their best interest in mind when they’re in front of a prospect. That prospect is the partner’s customer, so they know best how to position SAS that will solve that customer’s problems.”

Penix concurs, “[I]t’s a really good feeling, when you encounter either a new opportunity or a new challenge, that we do have that trust and ability to come together and say ‘what should we do together? We haven’t seen this challenge before, but let’s get creative and let’s go forward and do it.’”

Insight #2: Trust – A very important word for partnerships as long as it is backed up by actions. For both the vendor and the partner, show that you trust one another because actions do speak louder than words.

Says Reavis, “How do we get to that trust factor? Well, you have to have very clear and open lines of communication – even when the topic is difficult. SAS and Pinnacle have a long and trusted history together, so I know I can have whatever conversations are necessary with DJ.  And they know that they can call me or anyone at SAS at any time. Trust is built off not only having difficult conversations when they’re necessary and coming to the best resolution at that time, but also knowing that you’re there for one another – no matter when or where.”

Insight #3: Trust can be gained through difficult conversations that have positive results. They are the ones that have the most impact.

Open vendor-partner communications does a good job in mitigating or even holding off the one situation that probably causes the most distrust in a channel relationship – channel conflict. States Reavis, “My channels experience shows that conflict is inevitable.  You have to prepare for it.  Make sure you collect as much data on the situation as possible.  Be open to all sides of the story.  Do not go in with ANY assumptions and/or pre-judgments.  Know the people involved and how to work best with those individuals.  Being prepared and confronting any situation early will often mitigate many aspects of the conflict and in some cases, the conflict turns into a positive.”

Penix reveals that channel conflict does not really exist in Pinnacle’s relationship with SAS and that, when SAS’s direct sales team and Pinnacle share a customer, he likes “to refer to it as, as channel opportunity.” He continues with an enlightening story, “I’m not kidding, this actually happened on a phone call earlier today, where we had a meeting with SAS including some people from [the channel] team. A direct sales rep had called because they knew that we were working with a mutual customer.

“So we all took a proactive stance to pick up the phone and talk with each other. It required having the trust and saying okay, what have we got? And then we realized that the direct sales rep had two different opportunities that they were working on, and we had two separate opportunities in two completely different areas that he wasn’t aware of.

“So that the net sum of it was actually four viable opportunities for SAS and Pinnacle, and we had productive conversations around the opportunities and the win/wins for all four of those prospects.”

Insight #4: Healthy channel relationships can turn potential conflicts into big opportunities by working together – open and honestly. And by doing the things necessary to establish and maintain trust.

SAS and Pinnacle have quadrupled their revenue with each other over the life of their partnership. And for Penix, besides strong revenue, Pinnacle receives other important benefits as well. He explains “the primary one that I can think of is our ability to understand, get up to speed, get trained, and get hands-on with a broader and wider depth of SAS technologies and opportunities.”

Insight #5: Comes directly from DJ Penix, “So collaborating, meeting people and building trusting relationships will open doors to other opportunities where we have an ability to partner on something even if we’re not the experts at it. If it’s a proven successful and trusting partnership, even if we don’t know everything about a specific opportunity, we know we can go into it together and knock it out of the ballpark, and that has significantly expanded our breadth and reach as a business.”

SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative analytics, business intelligence and data management software and services, SAS helps customers at more than 75,000 sites make better decisions faster.

As the amount of data continues to grow rapidly within organizations, figuring out what to do with large data volumes can become a struggle – even a nightmare. Pinnacle Solutions helps businesses face the challenge of converting data into structured information that supports effective decision-making.



[i]  Thomas H. Palmer (1782 – 1861) Teacher’s Manual (1840)

Originally appeared on VARinsights December 15, 2015