How to Choose the Right Vendors as Partners for Your MSP Business
Most of my blogs are sparked by great conversations with channel peeps, and this is no exception. Last week I had the chance to sit down with an old friend who runs an extremely successful channel business. Our conversation quickly turned into one centered on vendor frustration – a common theme these days.
The issue is simple; at least three vendors he had engaged with made changes to their program that left him holding the bag with his customers or drove him to a diminished profitability scenario. The question he asked was equally simple; “how do I avoid this in the future?”
That may be the single best question to consider in 2015. Here’s why:
Running almost any business in the channel requires you to look both ways before crossing the street, with your vendors to the left and your customers to the right. You need to look left, then right, then left again before you step of the curb, or you risk getting hit by a truck.
The sad reality is that most of the time MSPs spend their time looking right and not nearly enough time looking left. Worse still, when they do look left, the only question they ask is “how much is that going to cost?”
Most MSPs have some tribal ritual associated with evaluating vendors. It is generally established over time, and commonly understood within the organization. Most of the time it lacks a clear process, thorough documentation and designed upkeep. That is a critical mistake. If an MSP business does not have a clear plan to manage its vendor relationships, as well as a strategic evaluative process at the beginning of the relationship, then its deliverables are at risk. It is up to each provider to engage effectively, but here are some signs that a vendor is worth doing business with:
- Do they have a committed channel program? If the answer is anything but a clear yes, then walk away.
- Have they developed an API/SDK for the product? If the answer is no, then you are probably stuck with something that will not integrate with your business.
- Is the product integrated with your tools?
- Does the company have a partner advisory board? This is critical – if they don’t, then the company may not have a formal mechanism for receiving feedback from the channel relating to their products and support services. That is not good.
- Are they financially stable/well-funded? It is easy to get to a “yes” answer here, because that information s generally easy to find. If there is no evidence available, the answer is likely no.
Much of what we do at GetChanneled involves making sure that the vendors we work with have great answers to these questions and, as a result, are more than ready to help you grow your business. As we all know, the key to channel success is building a program that enables channel partners to be successful.