This article was originally published in VAR Insights.
Does this sound familiar? You thought you had done everything right. You showed the vendor you were more than prepared to be their partner and they were impressed. They told you your business, marketing, sales, technical teams, and culture were the right fit and they would love to have you in their partner program. Then six months or a year later, nothing has turned out well. The relationship with the vendor has gone south – they have not given you the attention they promised and you feel ignored even after opening up your existing customer list and bringing in sales. You wish you had never gotten involved and you would like to get out even though you put so much of yourself, your company, your staff, and your resources into forming a partnership that you were determined, by doing all the right things, would be successful for you and the vendor.
Sometimes a partnership just doesn’t work. There can be all kinds of reasons: change in the vendor’s channel leadership, program/product direction, or partner profile; poor communications with the channel manager; or they are simply just not that into you. Should you give up immediately? Not necessarily. If you think it is worth it, there are some things you can try to save the partnership. Though these actions items are expected to be the vendor’s responsibility, the partner sometimes must step in and take the lead.
- Schedule a program and sales review/update with your channel manager. Take this time to query them on what they think is and is not going well and what can be done to rebuild the relationship.
- Request a meeting with the channel manager and executives. Be upfront with your concerns, ask for feedback, offer and discuss solutions. Let the vendor know you want to continue a dialog with them to right the ship.
- Ask directly if they want you to continue as their channel partner.
Staying in a toxic or inactive vendor/partner relationship with no hope of changing is not good for the health of your staff and company. If you put the effort into saving the partnership but the vendor is just not engaged, it is time to leave the program. Be professional and don’t burn any bridges during the break-up. Use this as a learning experience for the next time a vendor comes calling.
TIP: Be prepared and have a Plan B ready just in case a partnership does not work. This should be developed to help you continue to be financially sound once you cut ties with the vendor.