#4 How important are Alliances to me?
Personally, very important.. if a vendor can prove that their product is worthy of industry recognition and then go another step further and forge an alliance with another complimentary vendor – giving a net benefit to the customer, then I’m all for that.
From a customers point of view, this means buying into an eco system, that has been ratified by 3rd party. Hopefully resulting in less support headaches, and less finger pointing should something go wrong..
Of course there is a downside – maybe it makes you look at systems you are unfamiliar with or have had a poor experience with in the past? This could prove to be more expensive, but this needs to be balanced against longer term running costs and support.
As an example Cisco sits in both camps, it can be an expensive option with a steep learning curve BUT it’s an industry standard, by which other manufactures are measured against. Love it or hate it, the family of products has lots of supporters, it’s well known and a recognised brand for IT departments communicating to the Board (not that brand is everything I hasten to add).. Importantly, it’s easy to employ staff with these skills, which can be a problem for the less well developed platforms.
Between you Mr Vendor and your Partners/Resellers?
Absolutely essential. Finding the right Channel Partners is vital – they need to be engaging, knowledgeable and above all customer focused. They represent you, to your customers – choose them wisely, they can make or break a sale. Turning a 5 star technical product, in to badly specified nightmare for the customer.
Customers buy from People they like, not just the Technology
Maybe not entirely true but something to consider, when I’m buying something either personally or on behalf of a business I want to actually enjoy the engagement process. For example:
- Buying HiFi you want to know that the sales person is knowledgeable. Maybe they recommend something you hadn’t thought of, or maybe you had done your research and you were testing the water to see if they go for the easy sale.
- Buying a car – never a good experience, except for once when I specified, ordered and collected a brand new vehicle from Holland! I did my research, checked my prices, found an exceptionally customer focused dealer, then travelled over and signed in one visit. My point is, that this was a slow burn which took months of preparation!
- Buying a SAN – I did my research, eliminated the poor fit products, made my choice, prepared to pitch to the Board but THEN I met a very engaging Sales Rep. This guy was unique and had many, if not all of the traits that I’ve discussed. The approach turned my head, made me look at the bigger picture and the slow burn paid off. My original decision was legitimately overturned and I bought in to a wonderful Eco System with lots of Software Defined Magic Stuff.
#5 Finally, one lesson I have learnt..
If I can pass on the most important piece of advice to any vendor or reseller, then this is it. Try your hardest to engage with a customer at an early stage of their plans, even if you can’t see a direct sale immediately. Become a Trusted Adviser (if possible), give free advice or justify any charges with concrete benefits.
In short become part of their RoadMap!
..and finally a thank you to two guys who commented and gave feedback when this was just a draft presentation. Good friends and experienced IT guys.