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Customers Need Partners, Too

I read a fascinating article in The New York Times titled “Adviser Guides Obama Into the Google Age.” While I was shocked to learn that the government still partly operates its technology with floppy disks—that’s right, the old 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch floppy disks—I was not surprised to see the importance and clout of the White House’s technology advisor.

The ubiquity and nonstop evolution of technology leaves many companies struggling to learn and effectively use the tools at their disposals. Sure, a government weaning itself from flimsy disks that can barely store more than a few Microsoft Office documents is an extreme example. However, there is a growing need fortechnology vendors to provide greater supportfor customers throughout the buying cycle to ensure they not only get the most out of their products and services but also to ensure they are cultivating lasting relationships. This also is true of vendors’ channel partners. In fact, the importance of the customer and channel partnership has given rise to education and support networks. For example, VMware’s Partner Network claims to offer, “A wide range of training programs that cover every aspect of virtualization and cloud computing to build your skills and enable you to become a trusted advisor to your customers.”


As part of ZS’s ongoing research, which gathers data and feedback from a wide range of technology vendors, we surveyed 3,487 small and medium -sized businesses (SMBs) and people in the companies responsible for cloud services purchase decisions. Fortunately, our respondents have come a long way since floppy disks. For further analysis, ZS selected 250 respondents, who purchased software-as-a-service (SaaS) and/or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) from a reseller within the past 12 months. “Diamonds in the Rough: ZS Research on SMB Cloud Channel Preferences” is a summary of the survey results and reveals, among other things, that respondents believe most channel partners play a minimal role in shaping customers’ purchase decisions. This means a missed opportunity to cultivate and grow SMB relationships. Other survey highlights include:

§  Small-sized businesses prioritize reseller attributes differently than medium-sized business when purchasing SaaS and IaaS.

§  There’s an opportunity for channel partners to play an advisory role and add value to customers’ buying cycles.

§  Customers report lukewarm satisfaction and loyalty for cloud service resellers they view simply as transactional.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Survey results underscore a number of opportunities to build an SMB advisory practice, fueling SMB cloud services growth for both tech vendors and their channel partners, including:

1.       Leverage channels to meet customer needs and reach key market segments.

2.       Develop and implement a comprehensive partner program to manage the partner lifecycle.

3.       Drive channel partner capacity planning, partner loyalty management and collaborative partner marketing.

4.       Design and implement channel incentives that motivate and reward channel performance and drive partner loyalty.


Download " Diamonds in the Rough: ZS Research on SMB Cloud Channel Preferences" for insights onhow SMBs choose their resellers, what resellers are providing and whether customers really are satisfied.

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