Channel Abuse: Why Vendors Should Respect Channel

By Andrew Martin, Director of Asia Pacific & Japan

Blog Originally Published at –

Vendors Must Learn To Respect Their Channels

I have worked in and with channels for over 20 years. The bulk of my personal experience has been in data, storage and data protection technologies, but the dynamics of channels remain the same no matter what the technology.

I have had the good fortune to work in Europe and Asia. I have worked for resellers, distributors and vendors large and small. Most recently I have been lucky enough to hold Vice President Asia Pacific Roles for Bakbone Software, Tandberg Data and currently for Cristie Software.

Whilst the big vendors like Microsoft, IBM and VMware work with big distributors like ECS, Avnet and Ingram. There are hundreds of smaller vendors that work with smaller owner operated distributors and resellers that specialize in developing a market for smaller brand technology vendors.

It is in this part of the market that I believe many vendors need to learn more humility and respect for the channel partners with whom they build business relationships.

Over the years I have come to realise that the individuals at channel partners’ that take on tier two brands often have a much more significant personal investment in the brand than the employees that work at the actual vendors.

To give you an idea on this, when I was working as Vice President Asia for Tandberg Data, I was in the role for just over two years. When I met the distribution partners from countries including India, Australia, Singapore, China, Korea, Japan. I met successful businessmen running their own successful multi million dollar distribution companies, that had “been with Tandberg” in many cases for more than a decade.

The point here is without exception they had personally invested in the brand, helped increase the brand awareness in their region, and due to that investment their own companies become tied to the brand. At the same time, whilst building the business over many years, all of these owner operators had met with and built business plans with my predecessor, and his predecessor before me and his before him. In many cases the faces at the vendors revolve far more quickly than the faces of the distributors that represent them.

The irony is that each new face that turns up from the vendor has new plans and new ideas and often come in with an arrogance that “we” need to teach and educate our distribution partners on “how to do it right”. I have heard this same story from more than 20 owners of independent specialist distributors from around Asia. Each new account manager, VP or CEO that turns up on their door step, spends more time telling these people “how to do it right” than understanding that in many cases the brand they represent has been built in that country by the person they are trying to educate.

The greatest lesson I have learned since I came to Asia is to respect the knowledge of and investment that the people at our long-standing partners have made in the brand I represent. Most likely I will be the “passing ship” and they will be left carrying that brand long after I make my next exciting move.

With this respect comes the knowledge that I can learn from these people who have spent many years closer to the sharp end. I still look to add value and help to develop my business through these channel partners, but I do so from a position of respect and when I ask something of my partners I do so in the knowledge that the ramifications of any major decision I make will very likely affect the business partners for longer than it will ever effect me.

I know that in many cases this acceptance that our channel partners may know better than us is just not part of the mind set of many of my vendor counterparts.



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