Friday, February 29, 2008

Partner Loyalty

Are you loyal to your key vendors and distribution partners? That was a big theme the past few weeks. Ingram has been preaching it at VTN for a while. Sonicwall and HP both focused on it at their recent partner conferences. It is a big focus. So what does that mean? That we as partners CHOOSE to do our business with our vendor partners. We make decisions every day on what solutions we will sell and whose products and services those solutions will contain. At HTS we made a conscious decision a few years ago to narrow our vendor lines way down – to consolidate to a few key vendors and sell their products. That means we are not making decisions based on price but loyalty and then selling on value. I struggle with the excuses some partners give for why they can’t be loyal to a vendor or disty partner. They want the freedom to shop on price but they turn around the next minute and complain that Dell only sells on price and not value. Folks – we can’t have it both ways. We either are true channel partners and focus on selling value or we just become a price leader and deal with Dell style marketing all day long. Loyalty means we learn the value proposition and learn to share that with our clients. Our vendor partners have pricing where they do for a reason. Things cost more usually for a reason. That is certainly our experience. We sell HP and Sonicwall because we believe in their products. For many years though we only sold parts and pieces of their line. A few years ago the lightbulb went on and we figured out the importance of loyalty to our relationship. Our business has changed dramatically because of it. We no longer are trying to sell and support every vendor under the sun. Our engineers can get trained in a product line and know that is what they will be installing and supporting. Our marketing funds are significantly larger because our volumes are up with these key vendors and our relationships are so much deeper. It is not rocket science. Loyalty is a powerful driver of success. As partners we have to learn it and live it. Are you a loyal partner? Or are you one that just focuses on what is best for you? Success comes to those who make investments with their vendor partners. Think about it and then do it. Pick a few and go deep. It will make a difference in your success.

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