We regularly reach out to tech pros to ask about what they like and dislike about dealing with manufacturers, distributors, and software providers. In this edition of Tech Pro Opinion, I spoke with Joshua, the President of a New Mexico-based managed service provider. He told me about his preferences when it comes to tech manufacturer websites.
Tell us about a positive or negative manufacturer experience
Joshua: If we can just be specific as a certain chip manufacturer…this organization had the industry’s best partner program in the mid to late 2000s. But unfortunately, they decided very willfully that it was not something they needed to maintain.
They went from having quarterly meetings around the country where we would meet with tech people and marketing people there a day for a half or two days. They had frequent technical trainings where you built machines, you pay a fee, which came out to a small percentage of the value of the parts; you build a server, desktop, or even laptops back in the day, and return home with it.
They had the best rewards of any partner program as a percentage of sales, both for MDF and rebates.
And they now have nothing. There is no partner program whatsoever, no matter what your level is. There is no direct rep. There’s one Annual Meeting across their entire immense chain of various partner types. Every single aspect of their program collapsed up to and including technical support and RMA.
I think it’s the greatest collapse of the quality of a partner program or the existence of a partner program I’ve ever seen.
Then we have much newer players, I’m going to call them the ‘born in cloud,’ not necessarily that they’re cloud services people, but this is from the last 10 years. This is a business continuity and disaster recovery company.
And they burst into the market with a great attitude, but no plan. I remember when I first signed up with them about a year or two after they hit the market, I started asking partner program questions like MDF. And the response was, ‘what’s MDF?’
But the beauty of it is that we got to mould that program. And it came out to be a very good one, it’s changed a couple of a few times, mostly for the better. And they still have a tremendously effective partner force channel presence. They’re 100% channel-focused as well.
How about manufacturer websites: what’s the good & bad you’ve seen?
Joshua: I’ve never encountered a company larger than about $1 and a half a year of revenue that does a worse job of maintaining their websites than this one company.
It is an absolute certainty that if you receive a link from them, to click to do something, it will not work. It’s almost a comedy. I feel like Lucy has put down the ball every time there’s an email, and I’m trying to try to kick it.
They have a tremendously large and deep portfolio in terms of web pages. It’s impossibly bad to navigate, you can’t roll back. There are certain parts of their websites that work with only one browser and not with another.
They endlessly have trouble passing off authentication and credentials from one site to another. And of course, you don’t know you’re moving from one site to another. You’re just trying to click the next link to get something done.
And their support is so bad that you could train people to be bad, including the fact that most of their support links are broken most of the time. It feels like they must be doing this on purpose.
What types of content do you use on manufacturer websites?
Most of the time is reference, you know, speeds and feeds. For myself, it’s not to share with end users. But I’ll also need to look up part numbers and capabilities, warranties, compatibility, etc.
The other thing that’s pretty common is price lists, it’s good to know when products change or products are released. One of the nifty tricks that a lot of vendors use is to stimulate sales of a new product line or a new generation of products by raising prices on the support of older products. It’s very good to know that before you send out a quote, and it’s not the kind of thing they’re going to directly communicate to you.
Occasionally, I will want to sit through 5-10 minutes of a product overview in a video. I think that in terms of marketing, attention grabbing videos are great, but it has to be limited in time depending on how gifted you are in that medium.