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Can a 50 direct & 50 channel sales model be confusing and lead to mistrust

Instead of opting for either a direct or indirect sales model, many of the vendors are continuing to use both routes.  Can a 50 direct & 50 channel sales model be confusing and  lead to mistrust

As resellers will no doubt testify, today’s technology vendors – particularly the smaller ones – seem to have serious commitment issues. here Grant Taylor has a view,

Rather than having it both ways, by stubbornly sticking with this mixed model these vendors often create mistrust in the market – confusing sales and contributing to a less than positive outcome. Ultimately, this controlling attitude will reflect badly on the channel partner and the vendor themselves.  

As a deal progresses, if the financials change or another problem arises, some vendors will automatically take sale direct because they’re worried about losing money on it. While this is understandable, this rather heavy-handed approach will not only look bad but can also undermine the relationship between the vendor and the reseller, as well as the reseller and their client.

Unlike some of our closest competitors, we recognise the need to be committed to the channel. As well as providing the software, it’s just as important for us as a vendor to empower our partners to talk directly to customers about the solution, and provide them with something different to offer. Crucially, it is also essential to offer support in controlling the deal beyond the initial pitch.

Most service-oriented channel consultancies tell us the value and importance of acting as a trusted advisor their clients. For them to achieve this, it’s really important that they have trusted relationships with their technology partners too.

Launching an accredited partner programme is a good way for a vendor to formalise its channel commitment as well as improve the interactions vendors have with their clients. By offering sales and technical training, certified channel partners gain the necessary tools and training to improve sales and customer value. Other benefits of such schemes may include deal protection and access to marketing development funds.

For NETconsent, the newly-launched partner programme was intended to formalise our reseller engagement process and demonstrate to reseller partners the support we can and want to offer. As well as sending out a clear message about our solid commitment to the channel, the partner programme will help us to attract and recruit new partners.

As this is likely to be the first policy management software solution that new channel partners have sold, in our case the partner programme is especially important because it presents a real opportunity for the reseller to sell a different type of product to an existing customer, with support from NETconsent at every stage.

Fortunately for us, in the UK and many other European countries, the reseller channel is inherently strong. In particular, it’s very good at delivering value, especially when compared with the US and other parts of the world, where resellers often serve as little more than commodity houses: receiving orders and fulfilling them at a relatively low margin. For the most part, these strong customer relationships and local knowledge make European resellers ideally placed to work on solutions sales.

In the short-term, we know that the investment NETconsent has made in our partner programme is unlikely to deliver the highest possible margins. Yet in equipping certified reseller partners with the technical and commercial skills needed to develop and deliver a comprehensive level of customer service and support, ultimately we do believe the strategy will improve the likelihood of sustainable, long-term revenue growth for the partner.

For this reason, we’re sticking with a long-term channel strategy. And in committing to working exclusively with our partners, we’re confident that opportunities that arise will far exceed anything we could have achieved via a direct sales model.

NETconsent senior vice president, Grant believes vendors should commit to a single route to market