Best (And Worst) Channel Vendors: Behind The Numbers
Business Solutions, January 2009
But they also told us they wanted more. In particular, VARs said they would like to hear who their fellow resellers believe are their leading channel vendors. That information would help them make more informed decisions when selecting new products to resell. Hence, the Business Solutions Best (and Worst) Channel Vendors survey was born (click here to skip to the scores).
One of our first steps was to partner with Penn State University to help ensure the survey’s statistical accuracy. Penn State agreed with our philosophy of conducting a Web-based survey (as opposed to a phone-solicitation survey) of our subscribers in order to capture significant data from our most active resellers.
The volume of responses was overwhelming. We collected 17,771 votes from 1,604 unique resellers, making this one of the largest surveys of its kind, especially with the level of detail we gathered. These 1,604 resellers represent an estimated $10.5 billion in annual sales, an average of $6.6 million per participating VAR.
Best Channel Vendors Survey Methodology
So how did we transform an idea into a special report eliciting nearly 18,000 votes? From mid-September through early October 2008, BSM VAR subscribers were asked to participate in the survey.
We asked those subscribers to rate their vendor partners on a scale of 0 (worst) to 5 (best) in seven categories. We also provided some guiding questions to ensure consistency in how VARs interpreted each category:
Service/Support: Do you have positive working relationships with their staff? Does their staff respond to your requests adequately? Fix your product issues quickly? Are they easy to do business with?
Channel Friendly: Are they loyal to you and their other channel partners? Do they avoid competing with you, not unfairly selling direct? Do they push business toward you, instead of quoting prices to end users?
Channel Program: Are you satisfied with the variety and quality of services they offer (e.g. reduced shipping, marketing funds, VAR rebates, lead generation, etc.)? Do they effectively and consistently communicate program changes?
Product Features: Do their products meet your functionality needs? Is their product breadth adequate?
Product Reliability: Do their products meet your quality needs? Do you frequently need to fix their products?
Product Innovation: Do they update and adapt their products appropriately? Do they offer you new products to enhance your future growth opportunities?
Adequate VAR Margins: Are their products priced fairly so you can make an adequate profit reselling and servicing them?
Ballots that could not be verified as BSM reseller subscribers were eliminated. Scores were then calculated by Penn State and the BSM editorial staff. Vendors who received too few votes to be considered statistically significant for that technology category were excluded from consideration. An Overall Average Score for each vendor was determined by adding the cumulative scores of the seven categories and dividing that score by the number of VAR subscribers who rated the vendor.
In 12 of the 15 technology categories, vendors whose Overall Average Score was in the top 15% of that technology category were selected as Best Channel Vendors. In three categories, we selected the top 10 vendors (including ties). This was done at the discretion of our editors, who were attempting to compile lists that would be most beneficial to our reseller audience.
Best Channel Vendors are listed in alphabetical order. We did not rank them according to their Overall Average Score. One of the main purposes of this special report is to give our resellers a guide of who their peers think are Best Channel Vendors. Ranking the vendors according to their Overall Average Score would mislead readers and defeat that aforementioned purpose.
Excellent Tool For The Channel
During the months we planned this special report, a common question asked was: “Will this be pay-to-play?” That’s a nice way of asking if vendors can buy their way onto the list. I understand the question completely. Many other magazines have skewed their surveys intentionally to include current advertisers or entice new advertisers.
We believe engaging in that behavior is not only a disservice to the industry, but it’s dishonest. We would not compromise the reputation our magazine has built over the past two decades for the extra revenue a few ads would generate. Plus, Penn State would not compromise its reputation as an outstanding university by condoning such a practice.
So, this is an accurate survey, but is it perfect? Certainly not. Of all the advice Penn State gave to us, the one statement I recall most clearly is that all surveys have their limitations. I’m sure those whose opinions differ from what’s listed in the following pages will criticize the survey. To them I have one request: Before saying a discouraging word, please show me a survey that was conducted more scientifically and produced more detailed results.
Again, this survey is not perfect, but it should be an excellent tool for the channel because it indicates vendors that have highly satisfied VARs.
Worst Channel Vendors
When we asked our VAR subscribers to rate their vendors, we also collected anecdotes about their best and worst vendor experiences. Some of the ‘best’ anecdotes are included in the write-ups of the Best Channel Vendors.
The ‘Worst’ anecdotes were edited to remove specifics — names of companies, people, and products — and the most insightful of those anecdotes are included in this issue (check out The 'Worst' Channel Vendors), each with a “Lesson Learned.” Instructing them on which ‘worst practices’ to avoid, this editorial section is designed to be a one-of-a-kind teaching tool for both reseller and vendor executives. We know this is a controversial topic, so Senior Editor Dan Schell and I worked closely on this section to ensure that we do not harm the reputation of anyone in the channel.
I’d appreciate hearing your feedback on our first-ever Best (and Worst) Channel Vendors special report. Your feedback will help us refine the survey in future years and continue our mission of helping you grow your channel business.
Scores/Rankings - The 'Best' Channel Vendors
The ‘Worst’ Channel Vendors
More Of ‘The Worst’