Humility, how important is it for the vendor in a channel relationship?
For Chris Morgan, Vice President of Channels and Distribution for Nutanix, it is very important, especially if it is lacking. When asked for his feedback on the May 2013 survey by Extreme Networks that showed 25% of resellers fired a vendor, Chris replied “I think that vendors need more humility in how they treat their customers and partners. It’s not all about them. It’s about how we all work together to solve … customer problems.” Steve Dowling, Vice President, Converged Infrastructure for top Nutanix channel partner Sirius Computer Solutions, adds “that a lot can be overcome by a little bit of humility; whereas arrogance just seems to aggravate any bad situation.”
The fact that both companies are on the same page when it comes to being humble is reflected in the strong and lucrative partnership they have created that, according to Morgan, “transfers value and opportunity to the customer in a way that, of course, enriches both of our businesses.”
Insight #1: Humility is the best policy.
This solid channel relationship started with Nutanix’s unique value proposition and technical solution needed by an important Sirius customer. Both vendor and partner found they were contacting each other at the same time in hopes of building a partnership. So, after one meeting, says Sirius’ Dowling, “we cemented the partnership and formalized it. And then we immediately began to try to improve sales, improve the relationship and set the groundwork for what we’re doing today.”
Insight #2: Sometimes it is an immediate customer need that brings a vendor and channel partner together for the short-term. But the relationship can become long-term if it also meets the ongoing needs of both partners -and their customers.
Selecting Sirius as a partner was a simple endeavor for Nutanix states Morgan, “they were very customer focused, very interested in making sure the customer had the outcomes they were after and that is a rare commodity; so picking them was really, really simple. We partnered with them for those reasons, but as our relationship has grown, the partnership has really grown and it’s really grown around kind of a shared vision for moving the customer forward and innovating on go-to market.” To Dowling, Nutanix “really executed well on that vision and everything that they said they were going to do, they have done. They haven’t missed a gateway or a deadline or a timeline or anything else.”
Insight #3: Customer focused, shared vision and reliability are very important must have components for a profitable channel relationship.
A channel partnership can be off to a good start but, like in any relationship, it must be maintained to be successful. Dowling explains why the Nutanix-Sirius partnership continues to work well, “I don’t think you can produce outstanding results without having accountability for what you’re setting out to do; and you can’t get accountability unless you’ve got a high degree of trust – and you can’t get trust unless you can tell each other the truth. And we do that. If something looks ugly, we do not let it boil. We deal with it, whether that’s an issue with field friction, a channel problem, a technology thing that spews up, a pricing strategy – whatever it is. We don’t let the sun go down on that stuff.”
Insight #4: Tell the truth, it is the basis for trust. If there is no trust, there is no relationship. If there is no relationship, then why bother?
The partnership works so well, says Morgan that “I don’t hesitate for a minute to bring Steve in on a wild idea.” He relates, “A true story: he and I have a project we’re working on that I had thought about after seeing him earlier in the week. I was calling him one afternoon from my daughter’s swim meet saying, ‘Hey, I have this crazy idea. What do you think about the following?’ I knew there was no penalty for bringing a new idea or asking him, ‘Would you consider changing the way you do business in order to get these gains for ourselves and our customers?’ The ability to take that kind of open-mindedness and creativity and make it an actionable verb is really, really, really important to our relationship. It is something that is, in my experience, something that is fairly unusual, to be honest with you.”
Insight #5: A partnership where both companies are willing to openly express ideas and take calculated risks without penalty is one that is worthwhile, rewarding and mutually beneficial. Creating an environment that fosters such relationships is the foundation for success and happy customers.
Nutanix – Nutanix delivers invisibile infrastructure for next-generation enterprise computing, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. The company’s software-driven Xtreme Computing Platform natively converges compute, virtualization and storage into a single solution to drive simplicity in the datacenter and provide customers with predictable performance, linear scalability and cloud-like infrastructure consumption.
Sirius Computer Solutions – Sirius is a national integrator of technology-based business solutions that span the enterprise, including the data center and lines of business. Built on products and services from the world’s top technology companies, Sirius solutions are installed, configured and supported by the company’s dedicated teams of highly certified experts, helping IT professionals cut costs, increase reliability, ease burden of management, maximize flexibility, mitigate risk and improve service.
 Bob Noel and Mike Howell, “Channel Survey: 25% of resellers fired a vendor last year. Are you next?” Extreme Networks Viewpoints, May 13, 2013, http://www.extremenetworks.com/channelsurvey-25-percentof-resellers-fired-a-vendor-last-year-are-you-next.