Managing Strategic Relationships

While many vendor relationships in the MSP industry are transactional, focused primarily on upselling, strategic partnerships can be highly beneficial for both parties. In a strategic partnership, MSPs and vendors work closely together, aligning their goals and resources to create mutual value. Here are some thoughts to consider and address when forming and managing strategic vendor relationships:

Selecting the Right Strategic Partners

As an MSP, you can only manage a limited number of strategic partners effectively. Therefore, it's essential to carefully evaluate potential partners to ensure they align with your business goals and can deliver significant value to your clients.

  • Assess the vendor's products and services to determine if they meet your clients' needs and complement your existing offerings.

  • Evaluate the vendor's reputation, expertise, and commitment to innovation, as well as their ability to provide ongoing support and resources.

  • Determine if the vendor shares your values and vision, and if they're willing to invest in a long-term partnership.

Leveraging Co-selling Opportunities and MDFs

Strategic partners can offer valuable opportunities for co-selling and access to Market Development Funds (MDFs). These resources can help you expand your market reach and grow your business.

  • Collaborate with your vendor partners on joint marketing efforts, such as co-branded content, webinars, and events, to reach a broader audience and showcase your combined value proposition.

  • Leverage MDFs to support marketing initiatives and campaigns that promote your partnership and drive sales of the vendor's products or services.

  • Engage in co-selling activities, working together with your vendor partners to identify leads, create tailored solutions, and close deals.

Establishing Clear Contracts and Expectations

When entering into a strategic partnership, it's crucial to read and understand the contract thoroughly and establish clear expectations for both parties.

  • Review the contract terms, including pricing, support, and SLAs, to ensure they align with your business requirements and goals.

  • Clearly define each party's roles and responsibilities in the partnership, including communication, collaboration, and performance expectations.

  • Establish a framework for measuring the success of the partnership, such as KPIs and milestones, and schedule regular check-ins to review progress and address any issues or concerns.

Managing and Nurturing Vendor Relationships

To fully realize the potential of strategic vendor partnerships, MSPs must actively manage and nurture these relationships.

  • Communicate regularly with your vendor partners, sharing updates on your business, market insights, and feedback on their products and services.

  • Engage in ongoing training and development opportunities provided by your vendors, ensuring your team stays up-to-date on the latest technologies, best practices, and certifications.

  • Recognize and celebrate the successes and milestones achieved through your partnership, reinforcing your commitment to mutual growth and collaboration.

By carefully selecting the right strategic partners, leveraging co-selling opportunities and MDFs, establishing clear contracts and expectations, and actively managing and nurturing vendor relationships, MSPs can build strong, mutually beneficial partnerships that drive business growth and create lasting value.

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The MSP KB is an open source resource by Ashley Cooper and Kelvin Tegelaar