Evaluating Vendor Channel Programs: Q&A With Promark Technology
This month, the Dot Hill channel team interviewed Charles Bass, vice president of alliances and strategic accounts at Promark Technology — one of the premier value added distributors in the United States, who had some great advice for resellers when evaluating vendor channel programs.
Here’s a look at the conversation:
Q: Charles, recently you wrote a guest blog for Dot Hill entitled, “Top 4 Things to Look for when Evaluating a Vendor’s Channel Program.” What makes you uniquely suited to write this type of article?
A: With almost 21 years in the IT channel, I have served as an executive on both the vendor side with companies such as McDATA, Lefthand Networks and HP and successfully transitioned to the distribution side with Promark. I have created partner programs, executed partner programs, and now have the unique opportunity to both coach vendors creating programs as well as witness resellers firsthand during the evaluation process and see which programs succeed. In fact, so many vendors ask us at Promark what they should do when creating programs, that myself and Todd Hartung, vice president of marketing, pooled our advice and wrote a best practice guide to aid in that process. I took the ideas from that best practice guide aimed at vendors and refocused it in the blog article to give resellers practical tips when considering channel programs.
Q: So give us a sneak peek at your blog article and name the two most important things a reseller needs to look for when evaluating a vendor’s channel program.
A: The first one is so obvious it is almost cheating — but the most important aspect to look for is MARGIN. Resellers are in business to make money, and while some aspects of channel programs aid in profitability, the most important attribute that leads to bottom-line profit is margin on products & services. Vendors tend to pack a lot of stuff in channel programs with the aim of trying to attract more partners, and finding the exact equation for margin can get complicated. However, some vendors are choosing to not make it so difficult to evaluate margin – some are guaranteeing it. Partners should be on the lookout for those vendors who are putting the resellers first and taking the complexity out of the equation. They are out there.
Second most important is program simplicity and flexibility. The allure of rebates, incentives and marketing dollars can entice partners to sign up for really complex channel programs. But partners need to first ask the question, is eventual payout worth the time to sort out all the details, and then do they trust that money will magically appear when needed? Beware that the more complex the program is from the outset, the more complicated and lengthy it can be to get your investment back out of said program. Simplicity is key. If the channel account rep can sketch the program out on a napkin, then you are headed in the right direction.
Also, be on the lookout for vendors that are willing to respond to their partners with flexibility in both terms and programs. Vendors that are flexible are usually focused more on the end goal of revenue attainment and less on program regulation. Pick the vendors who are in it to win it – both for you and the customer, and you will find yourself in a true partnership. When the vendor is focused on helping you win deals and not on fighting you on the small details, you both win.
Q: Lastly, for resellers that might not have heard about or done business with Promark, can you tell us a little bit about what makes Promark unique?
A: Promark is unique in a couple of important ways. First of all we focus our vendor line card on data storage products and solutions. This focus allows us to provide a high level of sales and technical expertise to our reseller partners. This is really what makes us the trusted source for VARs who are considering the addition of an emerging storage offering. Secondly, we have a robust Professional Services Division that allows partners the opportunity to offer installation, implementation and support services. . And finally we provide various federal and state contract vehicles including the GSA Schedule in which partners can leverage.
Read Charles’ entire blog “Top 4 Things to Look for When Evaluating a Vendor Channel Program” or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitted by Dot Hill Channel Blogger. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship.