PARTNERING WITH VENDORS who share our goal of rapid growth and are committed to growing with Techvera has been critical to fast-tracking our company. Getting the most out of vendor relationships and attracting this type of partner (an approach I’ve dubbed “”channel hacking””) requires building a business and personal brand, establishing a clear vision for the company with proven execution, and producing a record of work that gets noticed.
Once Techvera was able to demonstrate that we were up-and-comers, we were able to be forthright about setting expectations. We seek vendors who will empower us.
That didn’t happen overnight, of course. My father founded the business in 2001 as Geek on Wheels, which served the residential market with a break-fix model. When I acquired the business in 2009, I began switching to the commercial market, and then started moving toward managed services in 2014 with the purchase of the ConnectWise suite.
Attending ConnectWise’s IT Nation event that same year was pivotal. Not only did I learn how peers from all over the country were driving growth with MRR, but Alex Rogers of CharTec led a session on selling and marketing that model.
Stepping away from the technology side of the business, I dedicated the next year or so to sales and marketing training with CharTec. And after receiving some advice from Service Leadership’s Paul Dippell, I began speaking at local chamber events, clubs, trade groups, bar associations, and more to grow my business and personal brand. In 2016, we renamed the company Techvera, and by 2017 had transitioned out all our residential and break-fix customers.
At the same time, we made mutually beneficial vendor relationships an integral part of the strategy for moving Techvera forward faster. Choosing Pax8 as our cloud distributor was instrumental to our initial growth spurt. They were a startup too. They were hungry, growing, and we wanted to grow with them. We developed a deep relationship with their team through attending industry events, providing feedback on products, and asking for their input on our marketing campaigns. In addition, since Pax8 was one of Microsoft’s fastest growing cloud partners, and we were selling Microsoft seats, we got some love from Redmond too, which we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Getting “”love”” when we were starting out sometimes required the squeaky wheel approach, however. Securing financing, for instance, took persistence, which included tracking down a sales rep at an event to show him a signed contract and convince him we were growing. The human connection sealed the deal.
How to Find the Right Vendor Partners
Today Techvera continues to seek vendors who prioritize mutually beneficial relationships. To ensure we can leverage those partnerships to their fullest, we ask the following during the vetting process:
- What do you offer for lead generation?
- What kind of MDF can I expect as an entry-level partner?
- If entry-level partners don’t get MDF, what tier do I need to reach and how do I get there?
- What kind of resources are you going to equip me with to be able to sell your products?
- Are subject matter experts available to participate in webinars or training sessions for my customers or prospects?
- Are you channel only?
- What is your vision and roadmap for the product?
- What is your security posture?
We also look to work with newer vendors, which can provide a “”greenfield”” advantage. Once we prove ourselves, as we did with Pax8, we can leverage that momentum.
One mistake to avoid is choosing vendors solely based on price. By tripping over dollars to save a penny, you may miss out on a vendor with robust marketing and growth opportunities.
Today, Techvera has 85 customers and 2,000 endpoints under management. In July 2020, we made our first MSP acquisition and ended the year with $2.6 million in revenue. Leveraging our vendor relationships and making the most of their available resources helped get Techvera to this position faster than we could’ve done on our own.
Photo: Sarah Gibson Leal / Indigo Bird Photography