Friday, March 07, 2008

VARs Care More Than Vendors

Day Two at "Everything Channel" -- the conference formerly known as XChange 2008 in L.A.

The hotel: OMG. Nice rooms. No coffee in the room. OK. I can live with that. But no room service until 6:00 AM ???????

I like to get up and get some reading, some writing, some relaxation, and maybe a bit of work done -- before 6:00 AM.

Mumble, grumble.

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So yesterday I mentioned that Technicians are from Mars and Vendors are from Venus. We don't talk the same language. We don't walk in the same circles. We have different "corporate cultures."

So the highlight of yesterday, for me, was the keynote by Robert Faletra, president of Everything Channel.

Robert is in an interesting position. He's putting on an even paid for by vendors and focused on VARs. In a way, he's a bit of a consultant to the channel industry.

His presentation was enjoyable because he was able to hold a mirror up to the community -- both vendors and VARs. A few key points:

1) Yesterday, everyone (vendors and vars) was asked to present what we love and what we hate about the vendor/var relationship. 100 out of 250 VARs responded. And truth be told, most of us did this at tables, so participation was almost 100%.

Three vendors out of 100 responded.

[Insert excuse] [Insert excuse] [Insert excuse]

I don't care what the excuses are. The message is pretty clear. Vendors "need" VARs, and will acknowledge that they need VARs. But they don't feel that they have anything at stake. We - the VARs - participate because we feel that we have something at stake.

Now I can't blame them.

A software vendor doesn't need to pay much attention to CDW, as long as they can sell the goods. So all these little VARs are just so many flies in the air.

Let me be clear: Vendors DO care. They just don't know how to express it. When they stand up on stage and talk about their commitment to the channel, they all sound alike. If they've made stupid mistakes, they push the reset button and want us all to forget the past and just focus on the future. What else can they do?

Robert focused on three major complaints from the VARs:
  1. VARs want deal registration so we're not undercut by larger resellers or inside sales
  2. VARs want support in English
  3. VARs want lots of free training

No surprise, everyone who has a new deal registration program is mentioning it at every opportunity.

Gosh, tech support in English? That's really 40% language, 40% competence (or perceived competence), and 20% wanting jobs in the U.S.

We've probably hit the bottom and bounced a bit on this issue. Language training is going up, competence is going up, and some jobs are coming back to North America.

Training got the most feedback from the crowd. Faletra's commentary was that we should all suck it up and pay for our own training. After being beat up by the crowd he backed down and admitted that

1) Vendors shouldn't use training as a profit center.

2) When a VAR pays for someone to take off a day or two, travel all day, stay in a hotel, AND pay out the nose for the training, that's too much.

3) If a vendor wants us to learn their new solution stack, learn their key new product, and learn how to sell it all, some kind of compromise makes sense.

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Loser of the day: Dell

In my focus group (mid market), Dell simply sent the wrong people. They wanted to wave their hands and make us all forget the past. THIS version of the reseller program is serious. It's here to stay. And you should just shut up and get on board.

Smallest deal for deal registration: $50,000. That should be enough to get your feet wet. Oh, and annual sales need to be $200,000 if you want to participate as anything other than a "registered" partner.

I had to agree with the VAR next to me. She thought they were arrogant. HP kicks Dell's ass and they only require $100,000 for their serious partner program.

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Absent without leave: Microsoft.

Microsoft isn't listed in the program material. Not in the program. Not on the vendor floor. No demo room.

But yesterday, their logo magically appeared on the screen. I suspect it's related to winning a handful of Channel Champion awards. It would suck to be a big winner and not have your name on the screen.

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Everything Channel continues to kick butt.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:11 AM

    Karl,

    I've lost your email. Please write me at pcdc5@q.com.
    Cousin Pam

    ReplyDelete

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