Every once in awhile, Channel Maven takes off her Channel Marketing hat and puts on her entrepreneur hat.
Oh who is she kidding, she wears them both at the same time. In any event, in recent months, the team has had the pleasure of meeting a lot of solution providers at one of your partner summits during a Social Media Rally Station. At these events we love talking to partners to hear more about what their day-to-day struggles are and how we can guide vendors to better meet those needs. As a small business ourselves, Channel Maven, more importantly Heather K. Margolis, knows the struggles and challenges that only a small to mid-sized business executive would fully understand.
Here are 5 things our vendor clients need to understand to create better programs and resources for their partners:
1. Money Matters: While 40% margin or 42% margin might be a line item to you, to the SMB owner it makes a huge difference. If there’s a struggle with a direct sales team or a discrepancy that can easily go one way or another consider this, a scorned solution provider will never forget and will most likely tell everyone they know not to work with you. Now let’s be fair, sometimes the Solution Provider might be pushing the envelope, but if you’re in the wrong, make it right.
2. Time out of the Field is Money: If you’re asking for multiple members of a partner’s team to be attending live trainings and jumping through too many hoops, the Solution Provider executive is going to work with someone else. Sure you want your Solution Providers to be well versed in your solutions, but be sure you’re not asking for more than is reasonable. Remember that anytime their team isn’t selling it is costing them money (see #1).
3. HR is Painful: Or is that just me? Hiring, firing, dealing with those who aren’t team players, or aren’t pulling there weight is probably the hardest thing we as entrepreneurs deal with on a daily basis. Sure, you as executives have to deal with some similar issues with team members, but you also don’t have to go through the pain of finding and hiring replacements or worry about spending money on someone who isn’t helping the business thrive. Anything you can do to help your partners find and keep talent is a huge plus!
4. Goals Need to Align: If you as a vendor are putting requirements on me as a partner they had better align with my overall goals. Putting together a business plan? Yes. Getting my team educated? Yes. Registering a deal? Yes. Putting your solution content on my website? Yes. Listening to your webinar on Solution X when I only sell Solution Y? Nope. Paying for a huge demo unit when I’m just starting to sell your products? Nope. Putting me in contact with 5 different people on your team for 5 different functions who don’t understand my business? Nope. Nope. Nope!
5. Deadlines May Need to be Flexible: We all work crazy hours and need to be understanding of each others schedules. That four hour work week guy is nuts. I’m not suggesting that entrepreneurs are busier, maybe just that that fill multiple totally unrelated functions can be dizzying at times. Today I spoke to a client about a project, worked on a deliverable, posted our own social, approved our newsletter, wrote a blog post, presented to a prospect, updated our financials for quarterly tax estimates, wrote up an offer letter for a new employee, met with our building manager about some issues we’ve been having, talked to someone about sponsoring an event and interviewed someone for another role we have open. I’m not asking anyone to play a huge violin for me, I love it! I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else! However, when putting deadlines on Solution Provider executives of “next week” you need to try to understand that they are filling a lot of different roles and may need a little more of a template or guidance from you.
I’m sure I’m missing some. I haven’t even touched upon the lack of marketing ourselves (yes, even we have a marketing team), and I would love to hear from Solution Providers what I may have missed!
Vendors, how are you helping your Solution Providers today?
Photo credits to: Small Biz Trends, Get Entrepreneurial, 4 Bp Blogspot