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Small Business

By Ken Presti, Contributing Columnist

There has always been brisk competition among channel partners pursuing sales opportunities. But during difficult economies, that competition definitely gets amped-up a notch. The promises can be abundant, and in most cases, the partners are fully capable of delivering on those promises.  But like anything else in life, let the buyer beware.

Working with multiple sales pitches can do a lot more than just ensure that you’re getting the best price.  It can also be valuable to compare the visions of the various channel partners as to how technology can best serve your company. In many cases, those visions can vary greatly from one partner to the next.  Oftentimes, those differences will be based on varying levels of expertise, key technologies, vendor alliances, specific incentives being offered by vendors at the moment, and a number of other factors.

Businesses would be well advised to entertain a number of different proposals, and then compare and contrast those proposals against one another.  Partners can not only be called upon to defend their own proposals, but to demonstrate why their concepts are superior to those of their competitors.  In the end, it may be difficult to know exactly whom to trust.  So hopefully, there is someone within your organization who can help to assess the various proposals and make the right choice.  But in either case, the process of reviewing the various proposals will help you to learn a lot more about how technology can benefit your business.

This process is nothing to fear.  But in addition to learning more about how to use technology, much of your decision will be driven by budget, the degree to which your company depends upon information technology, and even a little bit of intuitive assessment. In some cases, it may be difficult to do an apples to apples comparison.  So pricing for one proposal may not be directly comparable to pricing for another, given the upgrade that is envisioned for each.

Remember that changes to your IT infrastructure can often be made on an incremental basis. This can help you to accomplish more without having to take a single direct hit to the expense line.

As you go through the proposals, some of them will be easy to dismiss.  Others can go onto the maybe pile.  And through a little bit of homework and cross comparison, one will either emerge as a clear-cut winner, or options will begin to disqualify themselves relative to the others, until you arrive at the last proposal standing. It is also important to include a timetable for processing the proposals, unless there is some overwhelming driver to do it quickly.  If such a timetable is not put into place, it’s often likely that the project will slide once – then twice – then continue to do so until the proposals are either null and void, or no longer suit your needs.

It’s easy to get caught up in fear of the unknown as you ponder the possibilities. But careful consideration by your team, and helpful advice and support from your channel partner, will prevail.

Ken Presti has extensive experience in channel program analysis and development.  He is the founder of Presti Research.  His company  focuses on channel and go-to-market programs and strategies in order to help our clients build successful and profitable partnerships with compatible companies.

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