By Bennie Langenhoven, Managing Executive, Tellumat Communication Solutions*
Whether you’re scrapping for an up-and-coming new unified communications vendor or running with the big dogs, inspiration is a big part of what makes a channel partner want to win it for its principal.
So what is your vendor doing to make you proud and excited to be in the trenches for it?
1. Is it just big or getting bigger and better?
Big is its own justification, but there’s something thrilling about “the little engine that could and most definitely will”. Look beyond the incumbents to the next-in-lines, where the real fight is happening. Find the angriest cloud of dust and you’re likely to see a contender with respectable market share, double-digit growth, hungry strategies, dynamic execution and farsighted channel programmes. Keep an eye on Gartner and other industry analysts.
2. Does it do Fixed Mobile Convergence well?
Mobility is a big ICT play, perhaps the biggest one at present, and the cutting edge of all three other contenders for buzz of the millennium – unified communications, cloud and social media. So what is your vendor’s mobility strategy? Does it extend full IP PBX functionality (from any vendor) to the major mobile endpoints?
3. How ‘happening’ is its global footprint?
Is your vendor aggressively entering new territories, adding more tiers to its channel strategy and winning over global partners that would formerly not give it the time of day? It’s not enough to grow if you cannot grow along every possible dimension.
4. When ahead, does it quit?
Most of the industry is in distress. Assuming your vendor is in growth mode, it is telling to assess its response to this market advantage: is it taking its foot off the pedal? That would be wrong.
5. Is it spending?
Is your vendor investing in important areas like mobility, and does this include R&D? How close is its R&D budget to leading benchmarks?
6. Are its partners happy?
Sure, success is beautiful and you want to be a part of it. But if you’re worried your vendor might be spreading your potential gains too thin with too many new channel signings, then there must be question marks about how deliberate its growth is and how well it’s communicating its plans.
7. Are its partners hungry?
Sometimes the best indication of someone’s intentions is the company they keep. Are your vendor’s partners the sort of companies you admire?
8. Are its partners a good mix?
While most of a successful vendor’s partners will be bread-and-butter regional resellers focused on SMB customers, it should also have some key partners – ideally major national solution providers, even multinational integrators. With the right channel strategy there’s no need to fear dealer saturation – by association, quality partners improve your standing too.
9. Does it do cloud well?
Can you sell its product as a service? How compelling is this service in the light of cloud concerns such as security, privacy, interoperability, standards and so forth?
10. Does it play well in a team?
Does it sell 100% through the channel? What tools does it offer partners for their success?
As important as product strategy is, a vendor’s behaviour can be the real inspiration behind the channel’s decision to partner with it.