How Communication Can Improve Your Business Partnerships
Proper communication is the answer to most issues that arise between vendors and VARs, yet many people from both sides of the aisle forget this simple fact. What’s more, vendor-VAR communication is important, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. Here are some ways communication can help improve a partner relationship.
For starters, always remember that communication is a three-way street. Many vendors rely too heavily on the traditional means of communicating with partners such as monthly newsletters or simply one-on-one communication with channel managers. While one-on-one communication is extremely valuable, and the monthly newsletter makes it possible to communicate important information to the entire community, communication should not stop there.
On the same token, members of the partner community are traditionally less communicative than they need to be. Often times the extent of their communication with the vendor organization consists of waiting fortheir channel manager to contact them with a potential client or lead. Similarly, partners rarely have a chance to communicate with other members of the community. Not doing stunts collaboration and the exchange of ideas andsuccessful tactics for growing their business.
I believe successful channel partner relationships require three types of communications.
1. Vendor to Partner
Vendor-to-partner communications is crucial for the success of all parties involved, because the partner community needs to be constantly updated on all new products and developments. But, as stated above, too many vendors rely on traditional methods of communicating with partners and then assume their message was received. To ensure messages are heard and understood there should be multiple methods of communicating that all allow partners to provide feedback.
2. Partner to Vendor
It is also the essential that partners take advantage of their opportunities to communicate with their vendors. The vendor can put in place as many methods of communication as they want, but unless the partners take advantage of these tools they are useless. So, if you as a partner want a successful relationship with your vendor, thus increasing your revenues and business growth, make an effort to share your ideas with your vendors. Tellthem what is working for you, what isn’t and what you’d like to see more or less of. Chances are, if they want their partner program to succeed they will listen.
3. Partner to Partner
The third type of communication is partner to partner, or lateral communication. Each partner possesses unique knowledge about what works for them and what does not. Vendors should make it easy for members of their partner community to discuss ideas, methods, and tactics for selling their products amongst themselves, without going through the vendor. In this situation, the partner gaining the information will be able to improve their businesses, the partner providing the information becomes a more valuable member of the partner community, and the vendor will benefit from increased sales.. It’s a win-win-win scenario, that’s simply foolish to pass up.
So the reasons for creating a three way “Communication Street” are clear, but HOW can a vendor organization do this? One such medium is to create forums where partners can communicate with one another and with the vendor organization on websites like Facebook. VARs should attend as many vendor-hosted webinars and onsite events as they can to learn more about their vendors’ plans, provide their input, and speak with other partners. Finally, nothing beats a good old-fashioned phone call. Don’t wait for your vendor to call you. Be proactive. VARs should periodically call their contacts at vendor organizations to discuss goals, concerns and new strategies.