Distributors Don’t “Sell”

When I was with the channel team at MessageLabs (now Symantec.cloud) we faced the problem Allen is describing:

The bad news: distributors completely, really, totally, absolutely don’t/can’t successfully sell/distribute a product (or service, or combination) that is (1) new, so requires educating the end-customer, (2) requires training of the distributor’s salesforce to understand, (3) isn’t immediately easy to sell.

MessageLabs was early mover in the cloud-based email security space.  We had a number of very large re-sellers that  gave us great reach, but their salesforces just weren’t suited to selling a product that required a high level of customer education.  Our channel partners became very effective “introducers” but  our direct sales team still had to do a lot of c0-selling.

The introductions gave us access to great accounts but the scale and economics companies typically look for from distributers wasn’t there.  In some ways, it was the worst of both worlds.  We were giving up margin to the partners and still incurring the high costs associated with a direct sales model.