OPINION: William Linard examines the ins and outs of channel-vendor relationships

CompTIA's latest report compares UK and US vendor satisfaction
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CompTIA's William Linard takes a look at how UK channel firms feel about their vendor partner programmes.

Working with vendors or manufacturers is a way of life for channel firms, whose business is predicated on selling manufacturers’ products directly, such as reselling, or indirectly, such as integrating, repairing/maintaining or tailoring multi–vendor solutions for customers. As a result, many depend on a flow of vendor resources and other benefits that come with membership in a vendor’s partner programme. That said, the mix of vendors a channel company works with fluctuates every year depending on market needs and business direction, as does the level of partnership commitment. Some channel companies place a premium on having highly strategic relationships with their vendors, others less so.

CHANNEL BEHAVIOUR
CompTIA recently carried out a report; the Trends in the UK IT Industry study seeks to establish a foundation of knowledge and understanding for end user practices and channel behaviour in the UK IT sector. Although the report focused on myriad different elements, it was interesting to see how different we are when working with our vendors here in the UK, compared to our colleagues over in the States.

On average, UK channel firms belonged officially to three vendor partner programmes in the last 12 months, with just 22 per cent describing their participation in these programs as high and strategic to their business. Another third characterised their participation in a vendor programme to be routine and regular,
but not necessarily at the highest level of involvement possible. Three in ten channel firms report zero participation in any vendor partner programme at all. In similar studies of US-based channel firms over the past two years, no channel companies said they weren’t involved with at least one vendor partner programme.

It was also noticed, that overwhelmingly, UK channel firms reported being ‘neutral’ when asked how satisfied or unsatisfied they were in the past year with a host of different programme elements, which ranged from margin points and training to discounts and rebates. Nearly seven out of ten were neutral about sales incentives as well as back-end rebates, 67 per cent were neutral on deal registration and 61 per cent neutral on margin points.

COMMUNICATION
The state of vendor channel communications is a perennial hot button, and UK firms are decidedly less impressed with their vendor interactions than their US counterparts. Just three per cent said that they believe that the communication flowing to and from vendors is exactly where it should be, compared with 15 per cent of US channel firms in a study earlier this year. Only 18 per cent of UK channel firms believe communication is very close to where it should be (compared with half of US firms). The majority (52 per cent) rate communication as moderately close to where they believe it should be with their vendor partners.

William Linard is CompTIA’s Membership Engagement Manager
CONTACT: WLinard@comptia.org

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