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July 9, 2018 General

Why Buy Software from a VAR Partner vs. the Vendor?

Jim Ward wearing a gray button-up shirt with his arms crossed.
By Jim Ward

You might be thinking the guy writing this blog post must be a partner – also known as a value-added reseller (VAR) – and you’d be right. My company is known as a VAR in the traditional sense as well as a technology consultancy.

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We work with vendors that create great software, some of which have completely transformed the world of business technology over the last 15 years with new and impactful innovations.

I’ve spent the last 25 years building a company around selling and implementing many of these great software products in CRM (Salesforce, SugarCRM, Dynamics 365), Marketing Automation (Act-on, Hubspot, SalesFusion, Marketo), ERP (Sage, Intacct, NetSuite) and Business Intelligence (Birst, Qliktech, Tableau), to name a few. And, over the course of more than two decades, I’ve seen the market shift from perpetual on-premise software to a “no software” cloud subscription model.

But, as a company evaluating and looking to implement new technology within their organization, why work with a VAR as opposed to directly with the software vendor?

Well, throughout my experience working closely with software vendors I’ve learned a few things, including:

  • While software vendors develop great software, believe it or not, they don’t always know the nuances of implementing the technology nor do they truly understand if the software is the right fit for the buyer.
  • Many software companies are in the process of scaling their businesses to meet stockholder expectations or private equity investor returns on investment. This pressure to reach certain benchmarks often results in making a sale for the sake of making a sale. Meaning, the vendor will sell software to prospects who are not a good fit thus resulting in a poor customer experience and, ultimately, both parties losing. In a scenario like this, you (as the buyer) end up either wasting time and money only to have to start all over again or limping along with your decision, chasing a return on investment and never meeting the business objectives you’ve set out to obtain.

This is very different from a reseller’s approach. In fact, we’ll often politely remove ourselves from a sale that we know isn’t a fit or take an unbiased approach and, after hearing your pain points and objectives, suggest a better software option.

As a VAR, we take the journey with you.

VAR vs Direct Software Vendor

For partners who resell and implement software, we tend to manage a smaller portfolio of clients than vendors do, and the room for error is much smaller. Quite frankly, we can’t afford for you to fail, which is why we have a process in place to qualify our clients. We’ve dubbed that process AWAF, AYAF (Are we a fit, are you a fit?).

What we seek, like you, are successful outcomes. It is our mission to ensure we’re rowing side-by-side with our clients. We understand choosing and implementing new software is an investment into the future success of your company. And the cost of failure is high for both partner and client, thus why making sure we’ve made the right recommendations is so important. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we maintain a diversified portfolio of software since one size does not fit all.

The vendor, well, they only sell their solution.

Additionally, because we spend most of our time implementing the applications as a partner, I like to say we’re the boots on the ground.  We’ve fought the hand-to-hand combat of a project, gone into the ditch and know how hard it is to get out of it. With every implementation, we learn tremendous lessons that allow us to bring unique knowledge to a project that even the developer of the selected solution may not understand. And, because we’re regularly working with the technology, we tend to find the bugs in the software and are able to better advocate fixes with the vendor, on your behalf.

In short, unlike most vendors, we’re far more aligned to client success, since we’re working side-by-side to meet the objectives stated when buying the software. We don’t have the luxury of making the sale and disappearing. Because of our years of experience, we have an intimate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each software, enabling us to better guide our clients to a best fit solution.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. The software vendor doesn’t want you to fail; that never helps anyone. They want their software to work and they certainly don’t want to lose you as a client. However, when there’s more distance from the sale to the actual implementation, the likelihood of failure or not realizing the full value of your investment is greater – it is just the way it is.

Of course, you, the software buyer, need to perform your due diligence. However, isn’t it better to have a partner who shares a detailed view of your requirements and is working alongside you to achieve success?

Do you have 15 minutes? Let’s schedule a call to review and identify areas where we can help you optimize processes and drive business growth. Contact us.

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Jim Ward

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Jim Ward wearing a gray button-up shirt with his arms crossed.

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