A CIO at a midsize business enjoys dealing with technology vendors about as much as the average person likes working with housing contractors: Phone calls tend to go unreturned, e-mails vanish into the ether, and the job never seems to get done. The truth is, many large technology vendors just aren't focused on handling phone calls from midsize businesses, which is why big tech vendors often invest in resellers and other channel partners to handle their smaller customers. But that means CIOs at midsize businesses are "not only trying to manage the person they're buying from [a reseller], but also trying to have some influence over the manufacturer," says Laurie McCabe, an analyst at AMI Partners in New York City. "And that's tough." Toughbut not impossible.