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Channel Survey: Vendor leads are schlock, and some other unshocking findings

I couldn’t bring myself to write about this survey on April 1, because I figured you’d think I was pulling your leg. Although those who DO know me know that I am pretty much incapable of lying (my face gives me away) and am generally a very unfunny person (at least intentionally).

But, here we are on April 2, and it’s safe now, so here goes.

I was briefed late last week on some research that was conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and sponsored by Blueroads (the company that does one of the partner relationship management portals). The data, which the CMO Council is calling a scorecard, includes responses from pretty much anyone you would consider a reseller or a dealer. It doesn’t just represent the high-tech channel that has been my obsession for the past 18 years, it also covers businesses that represent consumer electronics or audio-visual equipment.

So, ready? Here are some of the high-level findings:

  • Fewer than 7 percent of the 500 respondents said vendors are their most valuable source of sales leads
  • And, only 19 percent of these folks said those leaders were “highly actionable”
  • Approximately 70 percent said vendor marketing campaigns were either “ineffective” or “only somewhat effective” in driving their business
  • About half engaged in any kind of cooperative selling

(You can download the full report if you choose to register here.)

“We’ve got this significant issue of lack of trust, lack of valued process between vendors and their channel,” said Dave Murray, executive manager of the CMO Council.

Do you sense a trend here? And, are you really surprised by the results? Honestly, I wasn’t shocked, and neither was Craig Downing, director of product marketing and demand generation for Blueroads. “The punchline here is that overwhelmingly, the partners say that customer referrals are their most valued source of business opportunities,” Downing said.

After all, what most vendors forget over and over again, is that most solutions-focused VARs MUST work with a slate of high-tech suppliers in order to serve their customers best. Even resellers that could be considered “exclusive” need to find great applications and infrastructure products to complement their main offering — whether they are offered in partnership with another reseller or ISV or whether they are part of the first VAR’s product suite.

Do I think vendor marketing teams could do a better job? Sure, but I think the best tools that any channel marketing team could provide are the research and solutions arguments to help their channel partners talk to prospective customers in terms they’re more likely to understand. The days of brochureware are fast fading. What this survey does point up in vivid terms, however, is the vital role that marketing plays in channel relations. So, ask yourself, do your key high-tech suppliers worrying about flashing corporate branding campaigns and the next Super Bowl commercial? Or are they focused on extending your own marketing resources, with the focus on customer-facing conversations?

Heather Clancy is a high-tech business journalist and channel communications strategist with SWOT Management Group. You can reach her at

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