Choosing technology vendors for your MSP can be a challenging endeavor. Vendors tend to be full of grand promises of partnership, simplicity, and lead generation. Unfortunately, in many cases, once the contract is signed these promises quickly morph into monthly high-pressure sales calls. So how do you go about selecting vendors who will treat you as a partner rather than a customer? Below are five questions you can ask to help discern a dependable partner-focused vendor from those that see your MSP as nothing more than a line item on their P&L.
1. What benefits does my MSP receive?
This is the most critical question to ask a prospective vendor. A vendor with any experience in the Managed Service Provider market should have a well thought out partnership program with numerous benefits. At a minimum, these should include:
· Lead Generation and Referral
· Training and Implementation Assistance
· Webinars and in-person events
· NFR License to test out the product
· A sounding board that is not tied to a consulting cost
· Co-Branded Marketing that is not tied to a quota
2. Do you set minimum quotas for your partners?
Unfortunately, in the MSP vendor space, many companies have taken to setting minimum quotas for their MSP partners. Even if these quotas are easy to meet at first, this can cause significant problems down the road, particularly in the event of a recession or other unforeseen event that disrupts the sales lifecycle. We recommend choosing vendors when possible that are flexible and willing to work with your MSP, rather than mandate targets.
3. Do you allow a transfer of licenses?
In some cases, you may purchase a license from a vendor, only for the client you bought it for to go out of business or choose a different MSP. A flexible partner-focused vendor should allow you to transfer this license to a current paying customer. The last thing you want is to be stuck paying monthly for a license that is no longer generating revenue. Additionally, a vendor that is reluctant to allow you to transfer licenses is likely to be more revenue than partnership focused, which could mean a bad fit for you.
4. Can you provide references from other happy MSP customers?
Any experienced MSP vendor should be able to point out numerous success stories after working in the Managed Services Market. If they fail to do this when asked, or attempt to demure, this may be a strong indication that they would make a weak partner. A lousy vendor can cause just as much if not more trouble for your MSP than a bad hire.
5. How is your product priced?
Implementation Fees, Onboarding Fees, Partnership Fees, Training Fees – the number of fees that vendors charge is infinite. A good partner-focused vendor will make their pricing as simple as possible to provide an excellent experience for their customers. Beware of vendors who have complicated fee structures that aren't easily understandable at first glance. This can make billing a nightmare and dramatically overcomplicate the partnership. A good rule of thumb is: if you can't get a complete picture of how much it will cost to deploy the solution to a client within a 5-minute conversation, it may be best to find a different partner.
Vendor relationships are incredibly significant for Managed Service Providers. A weak vendor can cause untold difficulty, lost time, and extreme expense. Conversely, a partner-focused vendor will seek to grow with the MSP and will work hard to make sure that the service provider has the best experience possible. Don't get lulled in by false promises - ask the hard questions before the contract is signed to make sure you pick a vendor that will enhance your business.