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Do I stay or do I go? - when to change your CRM reseller...

One interesting question that came up this week was Ďwhen is it right to change my CRM reseller?í To position this a bit, a lot of CRM packages, Microsoft CRM being a good example, are sold through resellers and implementation partners rather than direct from the software vendor. This approach has its attractions in that it allows organizations to move on if theyíre unhappy about the service they are receiving without having to purchase a whole new suite of software. Deciding if itís right to move on though can be a challenge.

One of the keys is to determine why youíre looking to move. If your concern is that your existing system isnít delivering value, then, in my view, a change of reseller is unlikely to be the answer. As Iíve covered ad nauseum in this blog, vendors and resellers, while understanding their own technology, donít get business. They fail to implement high performance systems because they donít have the knowledge and capabilities to apply their technology operationally in a way that generates value. A switch of vendor in these circumstances is unlikely to solve the problem, and is likely to waste a lot of time and money. It would, and I know I have a big fat vested interest here, be far better to look to an independent CRM consultant to help bridge the gap between technology and profit.

If your current vendor is holding back the performance of a successful system, then it may well be right to move. Before you make this decision however itís worth noting that thereís more of a cost than many suppose in changing supplier. Firstly thereís going to be a time cost in seeking out and vetting alternative resellers, then thereís likely be a cost associated with getting them up to speed with your system, and then the potentially very significant expense of them wishing to re-engineer your system into a form they are happy to support.

Another consideration is that, in my opinion at least, the average UK reseller quite frankly isnít very good. If you broke the reseller marketplace down Iíd suggest 10% fall in the rogues and incompetents bracket, 70% in the poor to just about OK bracket, 15% in the good bracket, and a mere 5% in the very good to excellent bracket (hopefully that all adds up). In other words if you were to randomly select a reseller, the odds are youíre not going to get a very good one, which means the process of selecting a new partner deserves considerable care and attention.

Over the many years Iíve been involved in CRM, Iíve seen great systems destroyed as the result of the injudicious selection of a Ďnewí reseller, and Iíve also seen great systems destroyed as the result of the lack of a timely response to diminishing standards of support from an existing supplier. As I touched on in a recent post about how CRM vendors may be impacted by the economic challenges we are all facing, I noted that the one of the first casualties of tougher times for vendors and resellers will be the quality of support they are able to provide, so I suspect more and more CRM users are going to be faced with the Ďdo I stay or do I goí question in the next few years.

My advice would be that any move shouldnít be taken lightly bearing in mind the costs of moving that I touched on earlier. Itís generally sensible to engage in a dialogue with an existing vendor to spell out the level of services you expect, with a view to managing an appropriate improvement in performance. If this canít be achieved and the decision to move is made, then Iíd suggest that significant effort in placed in locating one of those rare high performing resellers, and then even more effort placed in making sure you get the best out of them. As the saying the goes Ďthe grass may be greener on the other side but you still have to mow ití.


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