I am not going to single out one vendor as a good or bad example as most channel partners deal with several vendors, although there are still some that remain exclusive. As an aside I support the idea that vendors create special awards in their partner program for partners that have remained exclusive for an extended period of time like five or ten years; this is highly commendable given the turbulence in this industry over the past decade.
I am still a firm believer in the fact that ‘people do business with people’. Sometimes it may be necessary to push back on global pressure for centralisation and vow “we really honestly have to make it easier for our partners to do business with us, otherwise they will go and buy some other vendors products”. New vendors are entering markets where traditional vendors are either static or are being acquired, and we all know what happens to external facing staff during a merger, they all face internally looking for a role and security.
Partners are then left to fend for themselves; they hear the all too familiar corporate message: "It’s all on the website and in the email that was sent from the US, ….oh and in the webcast when you had to dial a US number to access”.
To such messages, how many partners will reply: “Wow that is just such a flexible approach! I can’t quite believe how accommodating you are being of me, the small loyal partner based in Bristol!”?
Partners are forced to find out essential business transformation information by going to the Partner Portal and logging on to the secure area using their PRM ID. I still can’t quite understand why vendors force partners to use only one method of communication i.e. the partner portal, when they market and actively sell solutions that allow customers to interact with businesses on any number of levels.
At the end of the day this is supposed to be a partnership, and both parties depend upon each other to exist and grow. Partners want fast and easy access to an account manager and to information that will help them sell quickly and effectively. In my opinion channel management and channel marketing among major vendors still has a long way to go to hit the mark, but those vendors who understand and listen to their partners will receive the greatest rewards in the quickest time. Face to face communication is key; you can’t have a partnership without first having a relationship.