In many ways the evolution of a vendor-VAR relationship mirrors the evolution of a long-term personal relationship. And like any committed relationship, each phase has its own characteris

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How the VAR-Vendor Relationship is Like a Marriage


In many ways the evolution of a vendor-VAR relationship mirrors the evolution of a long-term personal relationship. And like any committed relationship, each phase has its own characteristics and challenges.

Are your vendors treating your relationship with the amount of respect and commitment it deserves? Let’s take a look at the evolution of a relationship and see how closely it aligns with your business partnerships.


Whether it was love at first site or it took time to appreciate one another, every “couple” must go through a courtship phase when they get to know each other. It starts with discussions about where your business comes from, what your values and business goals are and where you’d like your business to be in five years (give or take an eternity or ’til death do you part). During this time, the VAR and vendor get a better understanding of the other organization’s culture (personality) and learn how to effectively communicate and collaborate to reach mutual goals. The future is full of potential.

It is also during this phase that the VAR and vendor are building the foundation for their future business relationship and is thus a critical point for both organizations. If all goes well, the two businesses will enjoy a long, successful and mutually beneficial relationship.

The Honeymoon Phase

Once the organizations have a better understanding of how each operates and a partnership agreement is made, they enter the honeymoon phase. Small foibles or mistakes are overlooked by both parties and each does what they can to make the other happy. The vendor showers the VAR with leads and training sessions to help the VAR grow. The VAR brings in new business, attends as many trainings as possible, and leads with the new vendor’s solutions whenever possible. Both organizations are convinced they made the right decision in entering into a business partnership, and they are satisfied with the results they are achieving together.

7-Year Itch

One might think both VARs and vendors want the honeymoon phase to last forever, but alas, it cannot. No vendor or partner program is perfect, nor is any VAR. At some point, one party or even both may begin to wonder if they are getting what they expected. The VAR may look at other partner programs while the vendor may begin paying more attention to other VARs. However, if a good foundation for the relationship was made at the beginning of the partnership. then the organizations ostensibly will come through this phase stronger.

It is also during this phase that the partnership may be renewed to its initial honeymoon phase vigor. As long as they communicate their needs to each other, the partnership should become stronger and even more profitable as both sides are able to see the potential and understand the challenges of working together.

Golden Anniversary

The final stage of a partnership is the golden anniversary. Each organization knows what to expect from the other party, and sometimes they don’t even need to voice their thoughts out loud for the other organization to know what they need. They anticipate each other’s moves and work together to reach new goals since, hopefully, the initial goals they established have been met.

One area where personal and business relationships differ greatly is the cyclical nature of the business partnership. It is not unheard of, or even undesirable, for the  business partnership to cycle through the relationship path multiple times. When this happens the partnership can once again feel new and full of potential, and that is never a bad thing.

Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of Sophos‘ guest blogs here.

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