5 essential points to consider when choosing a software vendor’s channel partner

“Our success has really been

based on partnerships

from the very beginning.”

Bill Gates


It’s broadly acknowledged that partners in the IT space add value to vendors. Let’s give an example here – with over 60,000 channel partners, Cisco’s channel strategy revealed that “85% of products and services revenue is directly linked to its partners.” With that in mind, it’s safe to say that partners are here to stay and offer excellent value. However, as a business, its important to choose the right partner to ensure you get the job done you want to achieve quickly and effectively. Below, are my five essential points on what to consider when choosing a software vendor’s channel partner, improving satisfaction and to ensure you get the best value out of them.


1. Experience of implementing, supporting and offering continual service improvement across the lifecycle of the product

This, in my view, is the most crucial point on what to look out for when choosing a partner. Vendors tend to build products that are saleable to pretty much anybody. A “one size fits all” product helps vendors to not exclude customer types, markets or niches. However, the technology needs for companies vary greatly. A piece of software that is well suited for a large enterprise, is likely to be too costly for the likes of a small to medium sized business. With that said, make sure you choose a partner that can implement a vendor product within your unique environment to achieve the desired business outcomes you desire. Reaping full benefit from that product is not going to happen overnight; it could take the whole lifecycle of the product, a possible 3-6 years. Therefore, it is important to also choose a partner who can work with you throughout the whole product lifecycle, and can help support you to ensure continual service improvement from start to finish.


2. Ability to compliment vendor products with outcome based services to create a more direct link with business change

Make sure that the partner you work with doesn’t just rely on the vendor product, but can complement the product with other services to deliver the outcome that you are looking for. The right partner should have the knowledge and proven experience to be able to take vendor products and build services around these with their own IP, resulting in a much more direct link with your desired business outcomes.


3. Provide a work around if a vendor product needs fixing or upgrading

Let’s be honest here, vendors can sometimes release products that may not work as stated or they may not state what the product can’t do. Whatever the situation, you need to ensure the partner you choose can work with these challenges and can help you to find the best solution that meets what you want to achieve. Look for a partner support team with sufficient breadth and depth in the skill base.


4. Aggregate feedback and help drive the product development roadmap

As stated above, there may be a few stumbling blocks along the way with vendor products. Whether it’s to do with a bug fix, or the product is not doing what it’s intended to do, make sure you choose a partner that has a strong relationship with the vendor and can provide continuous feedback from not only you but from across the whole customer group. Partners should have a direct link with the vendor’s product R&D and support functions, therefore will be able to get the desired change done quickly. Make sure that the partner CTO has a regular review with the vendor CTO to discuss the aggregated feedback. This feedback is also vital to the vendor, and will help them with their product roadmaps, ensuring continuous development of their products, and ultimately helping you as the customer.


5. Ability to manage the vendor engagement

This is something that I believe is often overlooked, but is something that is important to consider. Partners who know how their vendor works from a sales and account management perspective are best placed to be able to manage this relationship to get the best outcome for you as the customer. Make sure you choose a partner who can work closely with the vendor to offer the best price, recommend the right products or who can negotiate the complexities of a contract with the right people within the vendor. Partners should have the correct in-depth knowledge of how the vendor works to ultimately help drive best value for you as the customer.

So there you have it, my five essential points on what to look out for when choosing a software vendor’s channel partner. Ultimately, your business is what’s important, and by carefully choosing who you work with will determine whether your programme succeeds or fails.


Sunil Duggal (@SDuggalFusion)
Director of UK Sales & Marketing


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By Daniel Swann