In this lingering tough economic climate, it is increasingly important for businesses to maintain a competitive edge and to have a leg up on the competition. To many companies, this means jealously guarding their ideas. Yet in the IT channel, quite the contrary appears to be happening.
Partners in the IT channel are realising that they can preserve – and even improve on – their most valuable asset: customer loyalty.
The marketplace, especially in IT, is becoming more complex, so companies are often dependant on many of their partners in the IT channel, such as suppliers, service providers and value added resellers (VARs), to help them better serve their customers. They are realising that one hand feeds the other.
Earlier this year, computer manufacturer Dell Inc. announced that it would be offering social media training to its certified channel partners.
The company opened a page at its PartnerDirect portal dedicated to social media and allowed its channel partners to have access to it. The portal contained tips and tools, links to the vendor’s social media platforms, forums and registration for live virtual training sessions accessible worldwide, as well as access to other courses.
At the time, a spokesperson for Dell said that by imparting their social media knowledge and best practices to their channel partners, they were hoping that their partners would learn not only about social media, but also about how it could benefit them from a business to business (B2B) perspective.
“Collaborating with all their partners can be mutually beneficial to everyone on the IT channel,” says Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Phoenix Distribution.
“By delivering not just your core products to the customer, but also adding complimentary services and products – which you can only provide with the help of your channel partners – it could ultimately lead to improved profitability and return on investment for everyone in the channel.
“And most importantly, when vendors work together to combine their products and services, it creates superior products and services for the end-customer.”
One example cited to clarify how three separate companies can integrate their technologies together to achieve the ultimate solution is when managed service providers (MSPs) sell backup and disaster recovery solutions, have professional services automation (PSA) software and use remote monitoring and management (RMM) software.
“By interacting with everyone in the IT channel and sharing best practice ideas, it will ultimately help everyone to solve problems as they arise,” says Campbell-Young. “Not only will it save all of the channel partners time and money, but the customer as well, which in turn will make them loyal to you.”
But collaboration between the various channel partners holds another unexpected benefit, says Campbell-Young.
“When you go out of your way to engage with your partners, they will also, in turn, go out of their way to represent and sell your product and put your brand in a good light. That kind of brand building and boost to your reputation cannot be bought.”