Recently I was attending one of the MSP industries big events, sitting in a boardroom with 10 other CEOs listening to vendors plugging their latest wares and solutions. I frankly enjoy these as they are unique opportunities to line vendors up in a row and really compare them — not just in solutions, but in their approaches to us as partners. What soon became evident was that some vendors have a keen understanding of how to engage us as active participants in their selling cycle, and others — mostly the really big players — just know how to alienate us.

Anyway, it got me thinking about what it really is that MSPs are looking for in a channel partner program. What do we really see value in? What motivates us to add your product to our solution?

Here are a few key elements that the really successful partner programs adhere to in their offerings that the others don’t:

It's a relationship — This is our bread and butter. We have to be able to trust you and depend on you to be there when we need you.

Make your program simple and reasonable — to join, deploy, sell, and pay. Excessive applications detailing everything from revenue projections to client’s cell phone numbers make us think twice and three times about dealing with you. Likewise to making us pay up front for everything before we can even deploy it.

Support, support, support! — Both sales and technical. The easier it is for us to engage you when there’s trouble, the more we trust, and the more we invest.

Don’t hijack our clients — We work incredibly hard to earn every client we work with and find it intrusive, presumptuous and frankly ominous (with good reason and clear precedent) when you ask for detailed end user information that in no way helps in your delivery of your product to them or us.

Deliver on your promises — We can usually see past the lip service you pay to how awesome your program is. It is very simple — If it is a good, reliable product with excellent support that we can make a decent margin on we are going to get behind it because there will be less aggravation for us in the end.

Really, the first one is the only one that matters. If you remember that, the rest falls into place.

What can vendors do to make channel partner programs better? Why are some vendors failing channel partners?