Let’s start with the basics. Why do vendors need new partners? What type of partner are they trying to attract? We will examine four steps in determining if there is a real reason for both parties to engage.
Global technology vendors rely on their channel partners to service markets and generate revenues to help them achieve growth targets, increase market share and demonstrate shareholder value to build the overall value of the company globally.
Channel partner recruitment and subsequent management is a difficult and expensive task regardless of your industry. If your business is a new entrant to a particular market we would advise that you follow some simple steps to ensure success and to avoid wasted time, resource and budget.
At Junction we have developed an approach called Channel Activation. Channel Activation is designed to build long-term business relationships between a vendor and a technology partner (reseller). Executed well, it delivers planned, measured and successful commercial partnerships.
I will examine and explain our ‘10 Step process for Channel Partner Success’ (CPS) to help build success in the activation of channels for both new and established vendors seeking to attract new partners to new and existing segments of their portfolio.
Let’s discuss the answers to my question in four steps:
- Is there a perceived business benefit for both parties to explore a new partnership? Firstly the vendor should have a clear understanding of their current channel map. A channel map is a matrix of current partners by geographic coverage, revenues, certification levels and specialization. This map will help the vendor to determine where the potential gaps are in their channel coverage and then allow them to pinpoint the types of partners that they need to recruit to fill those gaps. This simple step is often bypassed by vendors who think they need to recruit new channel partners simply to increase revenues without thinking about the cost of recruitment and time to market. The benefit has to be mutual. New partners need to fill a gap for a vendor and the vendor’s solutions should be filling a gap in the partner’s portfolio. If this is not the case the partnership discussion should not continue.
- What is the market opportunity & industry skillset e.g. Higher Education, Financial Services or Manufacturing? As an addition to the channel map the vendor should identify the market opportunity for their solutions and understand which of their current partners can address those markets. If there are markets that are seen as potential areas for growth and they are not currently being serviced by a partner, the vendor will need to recruit new partners.
- Will the addition of a new partner take focus and resource away for existing loyal partners? For a vendor to start recruiting new partners they need to have an onboarding program, with a budget and the resources available to ensure the process is quick and painless for the partner. If this program is not in place and there is no dedicated resource for new partners, time and energy will be taken away from existing partners and this will negatively impact current business and partner relationships.
- Is the partner trying to maneuver other vendors by trying to create new partnerships? Some partners like to sign up with as many vendors as possible to receive the benefits that vendors like to gift to new partners. This might be in the form of a launch budget, a certain number of introductory and hand holding leads plus a fully funded and managed joint marketing campaign. Another reason for signing up with a new vendor is so that they can portray a breath of portfolio to current and potential clients. Vendors beware as some partners treat vendors as banks not partners.
In summary, the lure for a vendor to recruit as many new partners as possible needs to be accompanied by a measured and planned approach. Follow the four steps above to ensure that as a vendor, you have taken the first step in the process for Channel Partner Success.