Behind every great MSP is a lineup of strong vendors to support them.
Just as vendors rely on MSPs to deliver their products to customers, an MSP also relies on the vendor to deliver equipment and technology, as well as support them with financing and other resources.
As the MSP business grows, these vendor relationships become an even more important cog to ensure a smoothly running machine to support customers’ IT needs. A strong vendor relationship can also bring MSPs additional opportunities, such as better service, marketing development funds, and even press opportunities. Each of these items can play a critical role in helping an MSP take their business to the next level.
Build a Foundation for Success
Having a strong relationship between vendor and MSP starts on day one. From the MSP side, that means taking the time to ensure the vendor is the right fit for their individual needs, including price, technology, contract, support, and more. Asking these questions from the very beginning can ensure that the relationship begins on the right foot and with the correct expectations.
From there, a relationship can grow by purchasing technology, exchanging expertise, and driving new sales together. In short, while the MSP-vendor relationship may begin as a transactional agreement, it can quickly blossom into something much stronger that is beneficial for both sides. While an MSP may not be able to cultivate this level of partnership with all of their vendors, taking the time to do so with a few key partners can go a long way to driving success.
Further reading How to Build a Successful MSP Business
Clear Roles and Responsibilities
In any strong relationship, you should be able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. For an MSP, that means an understanding of the vendor’s position and business model, as well as their long-term vision and product roadmap. The vendor should have a similar understanding for the MSP. This is achieved through transparency between the two parties, starting from the beginning of the relationship and building through ongoing communication and joint efforts.
One tactic that an MSP can use to foster a strong and ongoing relationship with a vendor partner is to assign the right person from your team to dedicate to that mission. This person can work directly with the account manager at the vendor. Having a single point of contact to answer calls, field requests, and meet on-site with the vendor will help foster clarity and consistency in the relationship over time.
Building a strong MSP-vendor relationship isn’t all about the human to human. Vendor management software or a CRM can be used to track data and performance, manage products and services, and keep tabs on interactions between both parties. These systems ideally interact with an MSP’s other frequently used technology for ease of use.
Further reading MSP Software and Hardware Tools
All Good Things Must End
As in life, all good things must come to an end. An important piece of a healthy MSP-vendor relationship is to plan for what happens when that relationship is over or if it's disrupted. Having a strong plan for if — or when — that happens to ensure continuity for the client is key.
Putting some of these practices into place to achieve a stronger vendor relationship will go a long way to helping any MSP build a stronger business. But in reality, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement that will help both parties succeed and better support the customer.