In my new job I meet many, many vendors and almost all of them have a partner program in which we can achieve bronze, silver, gold, enterprise, premier, business or any other partner status.

In reality the meaning of the term ‘Partner’ is interpreted in many different ways.

According to Wiki, a business partner is:

a term used to denote a commercial entity with which another commercial entity has some form of alliance. This relationship may be a highly contractual, exclusive bond in which both entities commit not to ally with third parties. Alternatively, it may be a very loose arrangement designed largely to impress customers and competitors with the size of the network the business partners belong to.

So, it’s an alliance between two business partners. I get that. An exclusive bond not to ally with other parties, hmm NO. In my line of business a partnership doesn’t imply that I can’t have an alliance with an other vendor. IT service providers collect large numbers of partnerships nowadays to impress others. This matches with the third line, it’s a loose arrangement to impress customers and competitors.

The problem I see with many vendors is the ‘loose‘ part.

In my opinion, when there is a partnership between a vendor and a IT service provider, a vendor should support their partner in every way they can.

This includes:

  • (Pre-) Sales support;
  • Beta programs;
  • Customer demos;
  • Discounts;
  • Product presentations;
  • Education;
  • Seminars.

Of course the term partnership implies that it’s not a one-way street (or half duplex connection). The partnership also adds obligations and commitment on the side of the IT service provider. They should train their employees, let employees attend seminars, reserve time to do (beta) testing, etc all in favor of maintaining and developing skills and knowledge to eventually successfully implement a vendor’s solution and provide their customers with the best solution possible.

In real life many vendors throw all kinds of fancy partnerships at you but what do you get in return for the commitment and hours spent on online webinars, etc? Nothing, zilch, nada, none …….

Not to mix up the good with the bad, there are some vendors that do an incredible job supplying us with all of the above. But there are vendors out there, and I don’t mean small, one product, 4 employees ones, that simply don’t get it.

 

An example: A large hardware supplier who just does not call back when we request sales support for a large (> $500k,-) client hardware deal. When we eventually score the deal with another vendor, they call back to beg to do the deal with them.

Another example: At my former employer we were in competition with a few other IT service providers for a large SBC/VDI deal. Of course we wanted to increase our changes of winning this deal by lowering our prices. So we turned to the VDI vendor to see if we could increase our changes by adding some discounts, special bids, whatever. Being the partner with the highest partner level in competition this shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong! No special bids, no discounts. OK, can you helps us with a bit of sales support to make it an offer they can’t refuse and/or give a customer demo? Same answer…. :(.

Why do we spend thousands of €€’s training sales and technical professionals to achieve some magical partner status when in return we get nothing. And to be honest, this wasn’t the first and certainly not the last time we experienced this behavior with this particular vendor. The strange thing is, they do keep stalking us, when a new deal turns up, to offer their product.

 

Just two simple examples but I can go on and on and it’s frustrating to see. Luckily with my new employer, Imtech ICT, we have a very select product portfolio and one of the criteria to become a business partner is the partner support a vendor supplies. This minimizes the risk of a partner arragement which is too loose, although with the arrogance of some vendors you can not rule it out completely.

 

I’m wondering, do you experience similar partner ‘abuse’ or am I seeing things that aren’t there? I would like to hear you business partner experiences, good or bad. You may name the vendor misbehaving or you can keep it anonymous.

Let’s start a discussion….