That's a fascinating question.
Here's an integrator only poll:
Can you share who those manufacturers are? That would help make the conversation more concrete.
Take Axis as an example: Every rep they have hired in our territory in the last 3-5 years has had a distribution or "I've sold alarm systems to small businesses" background in an attempt to push their Companion and other SMB focused products.
In the past they at least picked from other manufacturers or from integrator engineers/sales staff. People who understand the integrator market, and what it takes to survive as a regional integrator. Now they just want to make sure boxes stay stocked on shelves.
Back in the old days, my regional sales manager for any particular line was the one guy I went to in order solve any issues.
That's your problem.
The issue here is that what you describe doesn't scale. Sales guys always want to be the single point of contact for things, but this ends up causing huge headaches for everyone internally. The usual sales-guy approach to any problem or question from a customer is to immediately forward the issue to internal support, engineering, product management, and then maybe HR as well for good measure. You end up with 3 people all duplicating effort on the issue, nobody other than support opens a case or tracks any notes, and the whole thing becomes a fiasco.
For the sales guy, their quota rises year over year. So while your account might be good for 25% of his number, and he more or less has that made, he's still got to drum up some new business elsewhere. In reality this makes him/her a very shitty point of contact for things because their responsiveness is going to be spotty. He can't be out getting new business if he is dealing with the fact that you got shipped the wrong mounting bracket, or you can't get the 5MP camera to deliver more than 3fps and so on.
Your sales manager should instruct you about who to contact for any pre-sales support questions, how to open a ticket for any post-sales issues, how to get an RMA and so forth.
This also means you're not in the dark about how the rest of the organization works, and you know how to get the best answers from the appropriate channels.
A sales manager who is actually able to be your single point of contact is usually a guy who isn't working at full capcity. It's good to keep your sales guy in the loop on issues you do have, either as they occur, or when they're resolved. They can and will work to make sure general product quality isn't slipping. But at the end of the day, they usually can't do much else than cause a ruckus internally, and they're also acting as your proxy on the initial issue. That can lead to things getting a little bit lost in translation, or if your guy is one who is always coming with his hair on fire, it can cause the internal people who CAN solve your issue to deprioritize things just out of frustration with that guy.
What roles should regional SE/FE's (from the manufacturer) and regional MRs be playing in this picture?
You got the wrong partners. I am an RSM for Vicon, and I am charged with complete customer satisfaction no matter what it takes. Numerous issues have been solved with the complete support of my upper management, and 90% of the time we take care of the issue without their input.
you should notice , we all have the same issues, but the difference in manufacturers is how they handle the problems.
IPVMU Certified | 01/27/15 09:25pm
Integrators on IPVM do not necessarily fit this description.
I'm an end user that has struggled with Integrators (national vendors as well as small ones) over the years. Many are not trained thoroughly in the product being deployed and when things go sour they blame the manufacturer and try to steer me in the direction of their highest margin offering.
I've worked hard to get relationships directly with the manufacturers and cut out the nonsense the integrator brings to the table. Mind you I dont' want to buy the product and I don't want to install the product, thats why I have the integrator. However when it comes to support I want the manufacturer, after all who knows the product better than them?
Imagine you are a manufacturer, wouldn't you want a relationship with the end user so you can make sure the integrator doesn't throw you under the bus? When the end user has to make a change wouldn't you as a manufacturer prefer they know the product works and they need a new integrator?