Why Even Have Resellers If You’re Going to Cut Them Out?

rfp rfq

In order to tell this story I need to set the stage. Here’s what you need to know.

When I start work in the morning one of the steps in my routine is to log in to Alberta Purchasing Connection: that’s the portal of the provincial government that aggregates all the RFQs and RFPs for every level of government in the province: municipal, provincial, as well as ministries and school boards.

Having a one-stop shop for government RFQs and RFPs is hugely convenient. And every morning I scan it to check the newest tender requests for the past day.

I do this for two reasons. The first is that if there’s a request that’s in the wheelhouse of one of my dealers, I’ll bring it to their attention so they can submit a bid. Most of my dealers have logins to Purchasing Connection, but I don’t assume they’ve seen it. If there’s an opportunity to help one of my dealers make a sale, I’ll do my best to help.

The other reason is prospecting. Because it’s a government site, and because the government at least pretends to be transparent sometimes, you can see everyone else who’s clicked on an RFQ; they’re listed as “Interested Vendors.”

Usually, when I click on the list I recognize the names, I’m already doing business with most of them. But occasionally I’ll see someone I don’t know, and then I can determine if maybe I should reach out about becoming one of their suppliers.

Also, because of the ideal of transparency, it’s publicized when a winning bid for an RFQ is selected. They announce the winning vendor and the cost of their bid.

Further background: New RFQs are posted, with a closing date of maybe a few weeks later. Vendors have up until the closing date to submit their bids. The closing date passes, and then months, sometimes many months later, they announce the winning bid.

Anyway, down to my story. There was one RFQ a while back, I’d only idly checked it, because it’s adjacent to what I do but not directly. It was some kind of managed services solution.

But because I clicked on it once, I got email updates from the portal: An update when the closing date passed and an update when the winning bid was announced. Again out of idle curiosity, I checked the winning bid, and then looked again at the list of Interested Bidders. The winning bid was from the company in California that makes the managed services solution. The vendors who didn’t win, at least the ones whose names I recognize are authorized resellers of that service.

Let’s just back that up and underline it: The managed services vendor put in a bid directly in a market where they have half a dozen resellers. This bothers me. Why even have resellers if you’re going to do an end run around them and chase contracts yourself?

Years ago, one of my dealers told me they caught a brand they sold that I compete with reaching out directly to their corporate clients, offering to take care of them directly. That caused my dealer to dump that brand, and double down on selling mine, which I appreciated. So I called up one of my dealers who were on the bidder list to see if he had heard the news, which he had. I also called him specifically because I can always count on him for an unexpurgated hot take on any subject. I was not disappointed. Filtering out his response for all the profanity, the gist of what he told me was “I’m not surprised. This vendor does that all the time. All. The. Time.”

That was the shot, now the chaser, he added “And then the rep for that vendor has the nerve to ask me ‘what can we do to help grow your business?’ Seriously? How about DON’T STAB YOUR RESELLERS IN THE BACK?!”

I get it. My directors that I report to get it. My dealers get it. But apparently, not everyone gets it.