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.
When Channel Vendors Sell Direct
By Dede Haas, , CA-AM, Channel Sales Strategist, DLH Services, LLC
Award-winning, high-tech sales professional and founder of DLH Services, LLC (www.DLHServices.com), Dede Haas creates channel sales solutions for vendors and their channel partners. This month, Haas explores the value of distributor relationships with two members of The ASCII Group, whose services help 1,300 North American VARs, solutions providers, and MSPs grow their businesses.
Hassel is founder and CEO of ZLH Enterprises (www.zlhent.com), a woman-owned B2B
enterprise with a consultative approach towards
improving the voice/data/cloud services delivered to customer sites. A recipient of the 2017 Channel Partners 360° Business Value Awards, ZLH Enterprises is located in the NY Metropolitan
area but is international in scope.
Gillam is president of Gillam Data Services, Inc. (www.davegillam.com), a Texas-based MSP. With its expertise in IT messaging security, GDS has designed and implemented email security for several government agencies, the defense industry, and Fortune 100 corporations.
QUESTION 1: Many vendors in the channel have direct sales teams, which can cause channel conflict. What do you do if you find out your vendor partner is calling on your customers?
HASSEL: Each company is entitled to have whatever sales channel they’d like to have, whether it’s direct or indirect. The issue at hand is whether the direct sales team has somehow gone into the company database and unethically accessed registered leads.
The first thing to determine is how the direct sales team found out about the customer. Then determine from your channel what their rules of engagement are. Is it a sell-with scenario? Is it work together? And then depending upon the outcome, and the personality and moral fabric of the company that you’re working and having conflict with, it’s up to you whether or not you want to engage them in future business.
GILLAM: We do our best to work only with vendors who are channel only. Occasionally we cannot, and occasionally vendors change their model a bit. We try to work it so that our contracts have a clause specifying that the vendor will not apply direct marketing to our clients.
When we find a vendor that doesn’t follow that, we make attempts to work with the vendor to have them stop. If they are not amenable to that, the short answer is that we look for another vendor. A bit of a longer answer is that we work really closely with our clients, building that client relationship, so that if anybody calls them with a sales pitch, they’ll refer the call to us as their IT department.
QUESTION 2: Should solutions providers partner with vendors who are not 100 percent channel? What advice would you give if they are being recruited by a vendor with a direct sales organization?
HASSEL: Solution providers should not limit their product set. We’re product and carrier agnostic, so it’s not a matter of just representing one product or one company. Go in with your eyes open, and understand the rules of engagement. Then make an informed decision as to how you’re going to deal with that company. Sometimes we’ll go in with blind bids.
GILLAM: My advice would be to be careful. The thing you want to do is to try to avoid direct sales because of what we just said in the previous answer. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. In those cases, try to own your relationship with a vendor as opposed to allowing the vendor to have access to the client list. But if at all possible, locate a vendor that is channel only.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is a vibrant reseller community of independent MSPs, VARs, and other solution providers. Formed in 1984, ASCII has more than 70 programs that provide turnkey cost-cutting strategies, innovative business building programs, and extensive peer interaction. ASCII members enjoy benefits such as marketing support; educational information; group purchasing power; increased leverage in the marketplace; and multiple networking opportunities. These programs enable ASCII members to increase revenue, lower operating costs, and grow service opportunities. ASCII is the oldest and largest group of independent information technology (IT) solution providers, integrators and value added resellers (VARs) in the world. Learn more at www.ascii.com.