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The Value of Working with a Channel-Only Vendor

Channel-Only. What does that mean? Channel-only refers to vendors who only work with the MSP channel to reach their target market for sales.

Noah Sessions
February 21, 2020

Managed service providers (MSPs) have heard the term “channel” for a number of years. Many large and mid-size vendors have a mix of channel and direct sales, and they use many go-to-market paths for revenue. Sometimes these direct sales and channel teams at the same company work together, sometimes they do not. Many times, the direct sales team goes around their channel counterparts to get a deal done.

Channel-Only. What does that mean? Channel-only refers to vendors who only work with the MSP channel to reach their target market for sales. They do not sell directly; hence, they do not make sales calls to the customers. Channel-only vendors are 100% reliant on their channel partners to drive revenue growth.

Reasons to partner with an MSP Focused, Channel-Only Vendor

Check out the main reasons to work with a channel-only vendor who knows and understands MSPs and their client base.

- A good vendor understands your pain points - the vendor understands what keeps you up at night, and where you have challenges. Once that is understood, they can develop solutions to help you successfully sell their offering and also up-sell and cross-sell your other valuable services.

- A good vendor understands how your business makes money - the channel-only vendor knows you do not only sell their products and solutions. They know you have a portfolio comprised of many vendors. They want to provide a complimentary offering that is a natural fit in your portfolio.

- A good vendor only makes money when you make money - you want a vendor who wins when you win. They have a vested interest to help you successfully sell their solution with sales support, training, and customer support after the deal is done.

- A good vendor understands your market segment - the MSP channel is unique. Look for vendors who understand the market and work with MSPs daily.

- No direct sales team going around you - with a channel-only vendor, you don’t have to worry about their direct sales team showing up to sell around you. You have a vendor partner that is incentivized to help you close business so you both win.

- A good vendor is partner-obsessed - the channel-only vendor gets up in the morning thinking about partners. The vendor builds tools and defines processes to enable their channel partners to succeed — and that is their sole focus.

Top Questions to Ask a Channel-Only Vendor

When you are looking for a channel-only vendor partner, ask these questions to help frame the conversation so you can make an informed decision.

- How do you help my MSP make money? What tools, processes, and support do they provide? Do they provide a demo toolkit to help you present the solution? What is your commission for selling their product?

- How does the vendor make money? It’s good to understand how the vendor makes revenue. You want a profitable and growing vendor that is financially stable, and you know will be around for years to come.

- What benefits does the vendor bring to the table? Ask how the vendor helps you get new business in the door. Ask how they can help you grow your business.

- Is there a partner success team? Will the vendor provide dedicated resources to support you as you present their solution? Is there a team to help you before, during, and after the sale?

- Is the vendor focused on partner enablement? Beyond sales and technical support, is the vendor building tools to help your business be more operationally efficient? Does the vendor have integrations with key back office solutions in your business?

- How is support handled? Depending on how your MSP is staffed, do you want to take tier 1 support calls or handle all support calls? Do you prefer support calls to go to the vendor? Work with the vendor and develop a process that works best for your MSP.

There is a huge value in working with a channel-only vendor, especially one that understands your business, the market, and works to delight their partners.

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