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Liz, You were named one of CRN’s 2016 Women of the Channel for your role in driving profitable growth and facilitating stronger channel alliances for ASG. Can you share how you’ve grown these relationships with your vendors?
One of the things that we did as a company about 10 years ago was we developed a role or a group of people that we align with our strategic partnerships. And basically, that’s the vendor alliance manager or strategic alliance manager. These folks are aligned to our partners and their purpose is to have a deep understanding of who the partner is, their people – meaning their org charts, which change a lot – the processes, the programs, certifications that are required, and to bridge the gap between the vendor partner with our sales and engineering teams and then onto operations as well. This role is critical to our success with our vendor ecosystem, which changes often. Trust with our vendor ecosystem is so very important and this person helps keep that continuity and keep the repeatability of the consistency and the repeatability of the relationship and how we go to market.
Do you ever have experiences with one particular vendor that are so great that you share that with another vendor? Or do you compartmentalize your interactions?
I think it’s important to share. And yes, we share it and try to repeat if we’re having great success. We ask for the same of our partners. So one of the questions I ask when I’m onboarding a new vendor, is, “What have you seen work?” Or if we’re struggling with a vendor, or if a vendor feels like they’re struggling with us, I’ll ask, “What does your best partnership look like? And who is that partner or what does that partner look like? Do they have the same DNA as us?” When you’re a large solution provider, vendors will want you to sign up with them. They expect that all of your sales and engineering teams are going to sign up to sell their solutions, and they’re disappointed when they don’t. And I think a lot of times it’s because the homework hasn’t been done to make sure that there’s a good match between us as a solution provider and what the vendor solution is. And that’s where the relationships tend to go sideways or not necessarily bloom the way the vendor expected them to bloom.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who’s trying to manage all of the information that comes in, and the processes that are part of being a value-added reseller?
Do a deep dive. There are so many ways that we can be profitable working with our vendor partners. So deep-dive into all of their programs, their financial programs, their deal reg programs, every single program that they have and understand who they are. Understand your partner managers, what their KPIs are, and make sure they understand what your KPIs and goals are for the future. Can you tell your company’s story? Because, you’re selling your company as much they’re selling their company, and you want them to work with you as much as you want to work with them. It’s critical to have open dialogue and be transparent and make sure that your goals align with each other, and always be working on building that relationship and making it more successful. And if there are areas that fail, learn from those mistakes, move on and try new things.
One of the other things that I’m seeing a lot is trying to think outside of the box about how you partner and how you go to market with vendors or partners. Trying to think unconventionally and thinking about what the customers’ needs are. And our customers, they’re going a million miles an hour just like we are, so thinking about what are their needs. Do they really want to attend another basketball game or is there something that I can provide to them where I can get in front of them and maybe they can have their family with them because they want to be spending time with them? If they’re passionate about doing community work or volunteerism then maybe you partner with them in that way. And, man, what a way to build a strong partnership – by volunteering together. So, I think there are so many unique ways that you can partner with vendors and your customers for that matter. We just have to think outside of the traditional box.
To learn more about the view of the channel from the reseller side, how to be successful reseller, what it means to have a good relationship with your vendor partner and more tune in to episode 36 of The Allbound Podcast.
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