Vendors Find Themselves Out of LineBy John Hazard | Print
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Vendors' view that their own strategies are misaligned with customer needs are making closer partner relationships and smaller channel programs more of a priority.
IT vendors have a dim view of their own efforts to make sales and marketing match their customer's needs.
In a recent survey of sales executives by IDC Corp., respondents gave themselves a collective grade of 66 out of 100 for the ability to identify customers' buying process and meet it with a sales process.
As business IT decisions grow more fragmented, the difficulty will only increase, the report said.
While bad news for vendors, the survey is good news for VARs, said Bob Johnson, senior vice president of research at IDC and author of the study, Customer Experience Gap: Vendors Fail to Give Themselves a Passing Grade on Their Alignment with Customers.
"Vendors can't be everywhere, nor can they be everything to everybody," Johnson said.
"(Resellers) bring the advantage of a personal touch in that segment specific to your sale, whether that be a particular expertise, a geographic region or a target audience. They're closer to the sale and can better assess and address the buyer's need."
The solution, Johnson said, is not lost on vendors, which are driving more of their sales through the channel every year, including an 8 percent swing last year.
But merely connecting with resellers' "local knowledge" isn't enough to guarantee success and could bring "an additional layer of confusion to the process," said Johnson.
Vendors and partners must align their own resources and knowledge of the offering in order to make the sale work, said Chris Prince, president of VizQuest Ventures, which specializes in vendor-partner relations.
"A lot of times you see resellers say 'I've got this square peg and I'm just gonna pound on your solution until it fits into the customer's round hole.' It never works," Prince said.
"The vendor and reseller need to be on the same page about what the solution does, what the reseller can do and what the customer needs if they're to get the buyer on the page at all."
The process begins at the recruitment phase, when vendors choose VARs, Prince said.
They must select VARs capable of complimenting their offering, he said. VizQuest's Channel Catalyst tool is designed to assist vendors in the process.
Johnson and Prince agree that the need for more cohesion between vendor and VAR is leading to more involved partnerships and driving smaller partner networks, where vendors can provide more resources and more effectively manage VAR resources.