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Channel Matters Blog > June 2014 > Are You Really Easy To Do Business With?

Are You Really Easy To Do Business With?

by Rich Blakeman
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In my last post, What Your Channel Partner Really Means, I made the point that while almost all channel organizations say they are easy to do business with, their definition may be quite different from their channel partner’s. This time, I thought I’d put a finer point on the discussion by taking a more analytical approach.
Are You Getting an ‘A’ From Your Partners?
When analyzing vendor performance, the behaviors channel partners most often mention can be grouped into four categories:
Accessibility – Is my vendor available when I need them? For example, do they return my calls and emails promptly? This is the category that usually has the most overlap between how the channel organization defines easy to do business with and how the channel partner defines it. However, while the channel organization often stops here, most channel partners take the concept much further.
Accuracy – We’ve probably all had the experience of contacting a customer support department only to get a response that, while technically accurate, is no help at all. In the struggle to be seen as accessible, it’s tempting to return calls with half-baked answers. It’s fine to respond to the channel partner to let them know you’re researching the question, but most partners would prefer to wait a little longer for an answer if it means they’ll get one that is truly useful.
Accountability – A channel organization lays the foundation for accountability when they define their partner programs and lay out the rules of engagement. However, this is just the beginning. Accountability means the channel organization lives by their own rules. When conflicts arise, channel partners knows they will be treated consistently and fairly. This predictability makes it easier for channel partners to manage their own business and builds trust in the organization.
Agility – Agility refers to the channel organization’s ability to “think outside the box.” We all talk about the ideal customer or opportunity, but customers and opportunities don’t often come tied up in such neat little packages. Channel partners want to know that their vendors are agile enough to help them respond to unusual circumstances and close the business.
How Channel Partners Evaluate Vendors
While your channel partners may not go to the extent of mapping out how individual vendors do against each of these four criteria, they are at least forming a mental assessment in their head when they decide whether to place their bets. For our discussion today, let’s map out what this might look like.
Unlike the traditional quadrant where the X and Y axis are a continuum, the quadrants below are really four “mini-quadrants” where each criteria is measured independently. The closer the dot gets to the middle of the four quadrants, the poorer the performance.

Assuming the business opportunity is at least somewhat comparable, most channel partners would rather work with Vendor A than Vendor B. Although Vendor B may have reps in every city and an ISR team that is ready and waiting to answer calls, when vendor A calls back, you know you’ll get what you need, and they’ll live up to any promises they make. Not that accessibility is unimportant, but if you’re making investments in “easy to do business with” make sure you’re looking at it through the eyes of your channel partner.
Last modified on 6/24/2014 10:13:28 AM
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