Ouch! That was the reaction from the vendor executives who were present at the panel debate "How to Choose a Vendor Partner" at the Ziff Davis Enterprise Channel Summit last week. After laying out the things VARs should be looking for from a vendor partner, one analyst on the panel asked whether it even matters what vendor a

The point is that if everything the channel sells eventually becomes commoditized, the way the channel will thrive is by wrapping services and consulting around technology—nothing we didn’t already know.  But if the technology is commoditized, then that technology brand becomes almost irrelevant—because all the boxes do roughly the same thing—and achieving sales comes down to the VARs’ own brand and USP.  All of which makes the vendors somewhat superfluous.

Click here for the Channel Insider slide show, "10 Ways to Choose a Vendor Partner."

But many of the channel audience rushed to the defense of the vendors. Aside from the help that vendors can provide the channel, one
pointed out that most resellers do like being part of a vendor partner program.  They take a certain amount of pride in being called a Cisco Gold partner or an
Premier partner, and this also helps draw a customer’s eye in a
’s marketing brochure.

The audience also pointed out that VARs do still need to get a server, for example, from someone, and therefore making sure that the vendor you choose for your server, or software or hard drives, is going to help your business is vital.

But, the panel pointed out, choosing the right one for your business is fraught with danger. The trick, the panel said, is getting the balance right, not being so reliant on a particular vendor that any changes to its rewards structure, its rebates or its Ts and Cs will send your company into a spiral of destruction.

Pick one primary vendor for each of your technology areas and supplement this with a secondary vendor, the panel advised.  And, more shockingly, don’t be afraid to fire vendors. Check each year for your lowest-performing vendors and fire them. There is no point in holding onto vendors that do not perform for you and whom you do not make a profit from.