If you use resellers or distributors, in many case they will want (or need) to deliver the first level of support to your customers. Here are some tips to ensure success.
- Work out a reasonable revenue split. Revenue splits are eminently negotiable depending on how responsibilities are split between the reseller and the vendor and, naturally, their negotiation skills. Aim for a 50/50 split assuming that the reseller provides first level support and no onsite component is included.
- Track the supported customers. There needs to be some type of registration of customers (or systems) so you can audit the records.
- Define training and certification requirements for the resellers. The worst thing can could happen, both for the customers and the vendors, is that the reseller pockets the money without delivering any support to speak of. All issues go back to the vendor and the customer gets very slow service. To counter that, require resellers to maintain a certain number of trained staff members in-house. You can even define several levels of certification and tie different revenue splits to different levels, a wonderful incentive for the resellers to do more.
- Actively manage the support relationship. Designate someone to watch over the interactions of the resellers and the support team. It should be reasonably easy to spot the resellers that are abusing the system or simply need to (re)train their staff. Ideally you should be able to audit customer satisfaction on a regular basis as well as observe the internal dealings between the reseller and support.