How To Effectively Build your MSP Partnerships with Vendors

men shaking handsHow is your relationship with your IT Vendors?

Nearly every IT companies partner with a wide variety of Vendors for everything from Hardware, to Anti-Virus, to RMM and PSA tools.

For the majority of IT companies, this partnership is viewed in very simple terms. The Vendor offers a product, and the IT company sells the product to their clients.

Most Vendors also offer pre-sales support through partner consulting, Not-for-resale (NFR) licensing, marketing collateral, occasionally marketing development funds (MDF), and post-sales support through Technical Support, training and account management.

A One Sided Relationship?

But the challenge with this “relationship” is, it can feel rather one sided. If the Vendor doesn’t provide NFR’s – they’re accused of being greedy. If they don’t provide MDF – they’re accused of being short-sighted. If they don’t provide training, they’re not enabling the IT company to support their clients effectively post-sale. And so on.

What’s more, when the Vendor does provide all these things – they are often surprised to find their partner IT companies don’t use those facilities! Training webinars are poorly attended. NFR’s are downloaded but not installed. Technical Support isn’t used.

From the Vendors perspective, if they provide all of these things and the IT company doesn’t use them – why bother?

Speak to the IT companies and they will often tell you they don’t use these facilities because, well, they don’t have time – and anyway, it’s pointless trying to build a deeper relationship with the Vendor because they don’t sell a lot of that Vendors products and/or services and so probably aren’t that “important” to the Vendor.

And so it is. The relationship between Vendors and IT companies. An almost begrudging mix from both sides.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Regardless of your size as an IT company, regardless of how many sales of a Vendors product or service you make, you can forge a much more mutually beneficial relationship with your Vendors.

More than a Vendor, a Partner

How? By looking upon the relationship with your Vendor as a partnership. Take time to look for opportunities to help the Vendor rather than asking what the Vendor can do for you.

For instance, have you ever asked your Vendor account manager what targets they are measured on? Sure, for many it’s sales or revenue – but dig deeper and you’ll find that number of partners enrolled in their partner program, number of your engineers who are certified in the vendor qualification, number of attendees at training webinars, and so on. By making a commitment to the Vendor over the number of your engineers you will get trained up, and by recommending the Vendor to your peers, you show the Vendor that you’re willing to help *them* grow their business too.

If the Vendor is all about the sales (and don’t assume this until you’ve actually asked them) then ask the Vendor what sales they’d like to see you making. Agree on a target, then make a commitment to reach that target within a timeframe. You’ll both gain a focus on selling the product, and you’ll be showing the Vendor you’re serious about partnering with them.

But why would you bother doing all this? Put simply, the rewards are worth it in terms of your business growth.

I’ve personally worked with Vendors who were willing to offer large product pricing breaks, based on growth targets – price breaks that were usually only offered to much bigger partners.

A Beneficial Relationship for your Business

By looking to help your Vendor, you appear on their radar. An end-user lead comes in, who are they going to pass that lead to? Well, if you’re on the Vendors favorite partners – there’s a good chance that it’ll be you.

And there are other opportunities too. For instance – my own MSP worked hard at building a relationship with Microsoft. As well as growing our business through the great experience we had with Microsoft products, we had a number of great opportunities including filming Windows 7 Video Case Studies with Microsoft and our clients. We weren’t the biggest MSP at the time, but we were committed to our relationship with Microsoft – and they knew that when it came to selecting partners to work with on the Windows 7 launch. The resulting benefits we realized from that video were numerous.

So it doesn’t matter what size your IT company is, and it doesn’t matter how big the Vendor is. If you demonstrate a commitment to helping the Vendor to help you, it’s a win-win situation that will have all sorts of positive effects on your business.
Richard TubbRichard Tubb works with MSP’s to help them focus on what is important, free up their time and make more money. You don’t have to do it alone any more!

Follow Richard Tubb on Google+ or Twitter @Tubblog and receive free MSP training articles directly via email.

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