In Part 5, we examine the subject of vendor & partner planning. Here we ask the question, what resources are both parties making available to plan the actual launch of their partnership?
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.
In a series of blogs I will examine and explain our ‘10 Step process for Channel Partner Success’ (CPS). This process helps to 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 areas around: vendor & partner planning in the following three steps:
- Have you created a joint launch team and a launch plan with equal responsibilities and milestones? To ensure a successful launch and ongoing partnership, you need a detailed launch plan with milestones, actions and budgets assigned to team members. Every action should contribute to, not just the launch but the ongoing success of the partnership. A plan should not be developed just for the sake of it or for a tick in the box. The launch plan should be the focal point, the organic guiding document that is referred to and updated at every point of achievement along the road to launch. I like this quote from Richard Cushing… “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”
- Is there a joint fund agreed for the launch with equal contributions? An agreed plan is a major step forward when trying to launch a partnership but unless the plan is matched with a budget to actually make things happen, the plan remains a plan. In the past a partner might expect a vendor to assign an initial launch budget but vendors now need to justify every penny they spend with partners and will ask for a joint contribution. This is also the best way for a vendor to avoid spending a lot of time and energy with a partner that is not serious about making the partnership a success and contributing themselves.
- How do we promote the partnership and create awareness? A partnership is great but if no-one knows about it, the partnership won’t last very long. A major element of the launch plan should concentrate on creating awareness for both parties. There should be pre and post launch awareness items included first to create awareness and then to create demand. A marketing plan element should be included in the overall plan as this is a major activity that needs to be planned properly. The partner should insist on the vendor making their PR team available and their corporate reach for the initial launch communications but the actual integrated campaign should be led by the partner supported by the vendor. Timing is of the essence in this case. Marketing planning is always under estimated, but I think it is simple…”planning prevents poor performance”.
In summary, the lure for a vendor to recruit as many new partners as possible needs to be accompanied by a measured, planned and budgeted approach. Follow the three steps above to ensure that as a vendor, you have taken the correct steps in the process for Channel Partner Success.