Marketing has been extolling the virtues of building relationships for some time now; personalising the messages, getting to know and understand your customers, giving them the products or services most closely matched to their requirements. The theory being, the more tailored the messages, the more likely the conversion.
This makes sense as a business wanting to garner more sales from existing customers and is well documented. What has been largely overlooked are the relationships between distributors, resellers and vendors – that is until an independent report was recently published highlighting the importance of those relationships and the dissatisfaction many vendors and retailers are currently feeling with their distribution account managers.
"69% of those surveyed said they would like more personal contact with their dedicated account manager"
Dolphin are resellers of a variety of products that they source from different distributors. The products endorsed and resold are primarily done so because they are the best IT solutions for their client base – but what is also of paramount importance are the relationships that have been built upon with suppliers over the 16 years that Dolphin have been trading.
One such product is BullGuard anti-virus which Dolphin have been reselling for almost as long as they have been trading. Dolphin’s BullGuard account manager, Pete Johnson, agreed to take a few moments out of his hectic schedule to expand on how important he sees the relationship between himself, the distributor, and his ‘resellers’.
“How important do you feel it is to have a good working relationship with those reselling BullGuard?”
Pivotal, a good relationship has a huge impact on success to both parties. I think communication is the bedrock of a good relationship - being able to pick up the phone and easily reach out for any issues or needs is a must. Having a personable and hands-on approach really helps build confidence and trust and makes both parties’ jobs easier.
“Your background is in sales – do you draw directly from this for building relationships with vendors?”
Absolutely. Having been in sales for over 20yrs, it is key to build strong bonds with your business partners. Trust is vital and partners need to be able to hold confidence in what I do for them. Having worked in IT from my early years, I am delighted to still be working with some of the same customers I worked with at the start of my career due to the strong, long lasting relationships I have formed.
“What specific measures do you personally implement to build relationships?”
Regular face to face visits is something I particularly enjoy about my job and believe is what sets BullGuard apart from other vendors. Nothing beats a hand’s on approach - it often yields quick resolutions, new ideas and provides an opportunity to really get to understand our resellers’ needs in person.
I also think it is extremely important to always be approachable regardless of the situation, be it a quick question or a larger problem, the reseller needs to be able to know they can make contact and get the situation resolved swiftly. Honesty is also key, I am always open regarding how I see business models working for an individual (and in some cases not), and this builds trust. It is all about a long-term partnership and not a quick sale on the board.
“If your resellers are happy do you think this has an impact upon the sales they then make to end users?”
Absolutely, without doubt. If you are happy and confident with the brand you are selling, it is only going to me mirrored when rolling this out to the end user. We believe in making our resellers happy, rewarding them, and supporting them as much as we possibly can, as at the end of the day, their success is our success.
“Do you think the IT industry as a whole puts enough emphasis on the ‘human touch’ or could more be done?”
I have heard that one of the most contentious issues in the Channel is the relationship between the reseller and the vendor. Having ‘no trust’ and ‘being kept in the dark’ are terms used sometimes to describe the interaction between the two ends of the Channel. However, at BullGuard we believe in putting an emphasis on the ‘human touch’ and always being approachable, which in turn leads to building and maintaining strong, trustworthy working relationships.
“And finally, how do you see the future for vendors, distributors and resellers?”
The IT industry is always in flux, change is usually an unremarkable occurrence and I envisage much more change to come. Companies undoubtedly will have to embrace new applications, markets, and ways of working in order to survive and prosper. I feel that distribution and reseller partners will remain of vital importance for vendors for the value-added services and routes to market they can provide. Partners complement and augment vendor offerings. I have a high level of belief in a positive future for the IT channel.
A huge thank you to Pete for taking the time to chat with us. We have to agree with him: Building business relationships is integral to creating successful rapport between distributors and vendors, and such positivity can then be passed on to the end users. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Pete, and with BullGuard, in the future.