Take care of your partners & they will take care of you.


I picked up the phone. It’s the customer that has been calling me for the last few months to complain. This has become a regular occurrence. A well known organization – I’ll call Customer Doe – with revenues in the mid ten figures, had moved to that stage in corporate life where throwing their weight around to get what they want was generously employed. They are now on solution provider number three and are unhappy.

Customer Doe had bought my company’s sophisticated software program from one of the channel partners I managed, which turned out to be their first issue. They wanted to buy directly from my company, who I will call Vendor Doe. But because Vendor Doe only sold through the channel and was not structured to take customers direct, Customer Doe had no other option than to buy the software from the channel. With my help, they decided on the partner to work with and then promptly fired them once the sale was final.

This scenario played out two more times. I had worked to match them with a partner that would be a good fit but they were never pleased. There was always something wrong with the solution provider. In the meantime, I had spoken with all the partners. Their stories of the treatment they received from Customer Doe bordered on abusive and unacceptable. I had always had a great relationship with my channel and I did not want to see that ruined. So when the call came in to criticize partner #3, I was prepared.

I listened as Customer Doe unleashed. They grumbled about having to work with channel partners and threatened to take their business to our biggest competitor. Without hesitation, I told them to go right ahead, which caught them by surprise. I also told them – tactfully – that I did not appreciate their atrocious conduct towards my channel partners. When I hung up, they were no longer a customer but that was okay. I knew that no matter what I did to help, they would never be satisfied.

The most important aspect that came out of this situation was that my partners knew I was their advocate – that I had their backs. As a result, they came through for me by more than making up for the revenue that was lost from the departure of Customer Doe. And they continued to do so many years to come. I will always be grateful to them.

Just one of many stories from my years in the channel.