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Channel widens supplier relationships to extend choice

In the hunt for products at a good price, the procurement ecosystem has widened – but that has caused its own problems

Supplier relationships demand time and commitment from a channel partner, with pressure to commit resources and staff to support products and services.

Each supplier knows they have to earn the support of a partner, with the mantra, “We know they have a choice” often heard in discussions with channel directors. Those that fear relationships are entrenched and that getting through the door is going to be difficult should be relieved to note the findings from Aspire Technologies’ research.

The firm found that over the past three years, more than half of the IT services players it quizzed had expanded their ecosystems, according to its 2023 Trends in IT procurement report.

Headline findings included the sizeable amount of firms that had increased their number of active suppliers since 2020 (56%), and a decent amount placing orders for hardware in that period.

There were also indications that product availability was seen as a key challenge by many respondents, along with the ability to access competitive pricing. Partners were also looking to work with those that could support digital transformation projects.

Managing numerous relationships did create its own problems, but there were signs that the use of more automation tools would ease some of the pain.

“The procurement ecosystem for technology professionals keeps on expanding to address the mounting demands of business clients and the growing complexity of the solutions they sell, implement and support,” said QuoteWerks vice-president Brian Laufer. “Providers are increasingly adopting sales automation, and quoting tools to overcome those challenges and reduce the timelines for closing new deals.”

Broadliner trend

Other nuggets in the report included the disclosure that many channel players were working with just one or two distributors, with the number indicating they worked with three or more decreasing over the past year. A decent portion of partners are able to get what they need from a close relationship with a broadliner.

The disties remained the number one source of products and services for the majority of partners, but they need to keep looking over their shoulders, with a chunk of respondents (32%) prepared to point to e-tailers as their primary sourcing partner.

Given its position as a quoting automation specialist, Aspire recommended the channel use more tools to improve speed and efficiency. The report found plenty of work to do on that front, with a quarter of respondents revealing they still use email to share and develop quotes with customers.

“The high adoption rate of new technologies in the sales process underscores the importance of innovation today,” said John Lewe, president of Aspire Technologies, QuoteWerks’ parent company. “IT services companies that integrate quoting tools with sales, procurement and business management platforms are realising how beneficial automation can be to their bottom lines, employees and customers.”

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