Marriages of Sales ConvenienceBy Michael Vizard | Posted 2009-03-19 Email Print
Many vendors—including Oracle, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco—are offering their partners the same level of sales training as their direct teams. This generosity is partly motivated by vendors’ need to reduce headcount. Solution providers should take advantage of this newfound generosity.
There’s nothing quite like a recession to change behaviors. Not too long ago most of the sales people working for vendors had little or no time for their counterparts at solution providers. Flash forward to today, and sales people that work for vendors are tripping over themselves to get next to sales people that work for solutions providers.
In fact, major vendors such as Oracle, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems are boasting that they now give the salespeople who work for solution providers the same level of training they give their internal salespeople. As commendable as that may be, you can’t help but wonder where all this sales training was during the good times.
What’s really at work here is a changing set of economic conditions where major vendors realize they can’t afford to carry as many direct sales people. As a practical matter, they therefore are expending more resources on the salespeople of their channel partners to make sure they have enough market coverage.
As beneficial as this might be to the channel partners, the real issue that remains unresolved is the fact that the sales culture of a vendor and a solution provider tend to be radically different.
Most sales people working for vendors are classic Type A personalities focused on trying to make a transaction happen around a specific product. In contrast, the sales people who work for solution providers tend to be more relationship focused. They are not Type B personalities, per se, but they do tend to look past the monthly sales number to focus on the needs of the customer. This is a natural consequence of the fact that the solution provider salesperson typically has to return to the same customer time and again to sell them various products as part of a larger solution. The vendor sales person might not show up again at the customer until its time to buy add-on products or a full blown upgrade.
In this type of economic climate, the relationships that solution providers have cultivated are king. Frankly, there is an odor of desperation surrounding most of the vendor sales people these days. They are basically terrified that the company they work for is about to consolidate sales territories. Naturally, they all start screaming for more leads just so they are seen to be at least making more sales calls.
Solution providers should avail themselves of all the help being offered by vendors these days. But they should also keep in mind what’s driving a lot of the new found love for the channel in the vendor community. And don’t be surprised if when the economy eventually rebounds, the vendor’s once again re-discover their love affair with direct sales.