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Newly forged reseller partnerships generally are charged with excitement and
filled with the promise of new customers and increased revenue, but, in
reality, many partnerships fail to drive the anticipated business value. So,
what should VARs look for when inking a new reseller deal?

Terian Solutions President Mike Colesante provided Channel Insider with some
insight into how to forge an effective and long-term reseller relationship. The
managed services provider (MSP) of cloud storage and backup recovery relies on
its 50-strong reseller community for close to 70 percent of its revenue.

The company learned some hard lessons since its inception over the past nine
years. Colesante says, "[Terian] actually had to fire some of its
VARs because they don’t share the same philosophy.

“In the beginning, we spent a lot of time signing up almost every VAR
we could get, but our support costs went through the roof,” he said.

Colesante realized the company needed to fully vet resellers and make sure that
potential partners shared a similar commitment to customer support and would
hold up their end of the deal when it came to managing the customer account.

Terian and its resellers are playing in an increasingly competitive and growing
market. Software providers such ParaScale and Asigra are duking it out for
customers and key MSP partners that can help them gain traction and share in a
growth market driven by a data explosion. And, the market does not appear to be
letting up. A recent study by the Berkley School of Management found that more
data has been created in the last three years than in the last 40,000 years of
human history combined, spawning more startup cloud storage hardware and
software providers to fill the need.  

Terian’s business model is both direct and indirect, with Master Lock and
Cotton Companies as direct customers. For direct customers, Terian provides
complete end-to-end managed services for backup and recovery, powered by a
variety of technologies like Asigra Software. Colesante describes Terian’s
direct model as “almost like outsourcing all your backup needs.”

Terian’s indirect channel is made up of a network of resellers that rent backup
space on Terian’s cloud architecture and provide an array of managed services
directly to the customer.

Over the years, Terian encountered resellers that did not service customers or
“dropped the ball” on identifying issues that would have resulted in lost data.

“We did not want our name associated with that,” said Colesante.

In an effort to revamp its channel approach, the company began to look for
existing and new reseller partners that shared the same objectives, approach
and philosophy to approaching the managed services market and how to best
service customers.  

“When we qualify our resellers, we make sure they have the same philosophy,”
said Colesante. “We are very careful to talk to our resellers and that they are
going to be proactive with their services.”
 
In an effort to build trusting and successful relationships, Terian tries to
return the favor with competitive pricing and respecting its existing customer
relationships.

“We tell the reseller, ‘That is your customer and we are not going to go
direct,’” said Colesante. “We really do keep the relationship sacred—they own the
customer.”

Tel Serv Communications, one of Terian’s VAR
partners and a full-service managed services provider, confirms Terian’s
approach, and says that Tel Serv’s commitment to its customers made the
partnership with Terian a good fit.

“We’re not a sell it and run company,” says Eric Hanson, one of Tel Serv’s
co-owners.

Hanson says that during the partnering process, Terian was upfront about
expectations and asked it directly how it serviced its customers. Terian also
stated it was only looking for resellers that would resolve issues quickly,
whether alone or with the help of Terian support engineers.

“They told us that ‘if you are going to front this program, we need you to work
with us to do that,’ and that was a key part of the screening process,” says
Hanson. “They have held true on that.”

When asked about what makes a successful partnership, Hanson offers his
experience and some of the questions he asks himself and potential technology
partners.

“First, does the tool work or not, does it cater to an MSP, and is pricing set
up to be flexible based on the ebb and flow of seats?” says Hanson. “And, last,
what is the support infrastructure like?”