Vendor Sales Reps Are Wasting Too Much TimeBy Michael Vizard | Posted 2007-11-26 Email Print
Opinion: If vendors continue to do marketing around products and not solutions, it is likely to fall on deaf ears.
A challenge that far too many solution providers find themselves dealing with is that most of the conversations they are having with their local vendor sales representatives are a waste of time.
This is a shame because it also explains why so many vendors have such a hard time in the small and midsize business segment, which is valued at over $200 billion. The core of the problem is that most local sales representatives are slaves to their quotas. As such, they tend to think of solution providers as a means to end, which in their case is filling their quotas.
But solution providers are lot more concerned about selling their own wares, which are mostly built around providing services for specific problems.
What that means is that a solution provider is a lot more focused on providing a disaster recovery solution for their customer than they are on selling a certain number of disk-to-disk backup systems every quarter. As a result, the conversation with the local vendor sales representative about how many units of a particular product that solution provider intends to sell in a quarter has generally become a distraction.
This issue is at the heart of the ongoing disconnect between the vendor community and the channel. Because the vendor community is totally focused on marketing products, the solution provider doesn't see any real value in engaging with the vendor's marketing programs. The vendor then complains that the solution provider has nobody focused on marketing when in fact they do. It's just that the marketing effort is focused on promoting the solution provider's services rather than the products.
A good case in point is Logicalis, which focuses a lot more on marketing the Logicalis Experience to customers than it does on promoting any one particular product.
A small cottage industry dedicated to resolving this failure to have a meaningful dialogue has started to emerge in the form of companies such as Circa65 LLC, which allows solution providers to outsource their marketing efforts to people that are hired and managed by Circa65.
As part of that arrangement, Circa65 then manages the marketing relationship back to the vendors as part of a concerted effort to get the vendor community to focus more on marketing campaigns that help create demand for solution providers rather than campaigns around specific products that nobody knows they need.
This is a hard thing for vendors to accept because it typically requires their products to take a back seat when it comes to marketing, which most vendors simply can't seem to accept. But those that do find a way to be relevant inside a larger solutions-oriented marketing campaign are going to ultimately benefit from a lot more pull in the marketplace.
They are going to be invited to participate in more deals by solution providers that really feel the vendor understands a particular market segment. In contrast, those vendors trying to push a product are going to find themselves increasingly isolated because no one has enough time or interest to listen to a product pitch.
So the real question for the vendor community is whether it's really worth having all these people in the field, and if so, are they just babysitting partners or are they really helping solution providers discover a real lead or close an actual deal?