To achieve success through a flourishing channel operation, it is critically important for any vendor to run a pro-active programme which encourages partners to behave as if they are working for the vendor, and to deliver benefits to the partner accordingly. Understanding, enablement and engagement are fundamental to successful partnering.
The close teamwork engendered in treating partners in a similar way to employees will create strong bonds between vendor and channel that will inevitably yield mutual benefits and profitability for both parties and trusted adviser relationships with customers.
Our partners tell us that a 100% channel-based model is critically important to their success as well as ours. We place exceptionally high value on our relationships with partners, their expertise, their sales ability, their relationships and the fact that we will never compete with our partners in an end-user account.
We are 100% channel. Our partners are our lifeblood. They are our success. The more our partners sell, the more customers we win. If we provide them with the engagement and enablement tools they require and make it easy, they sell more. This is proven by the fact that in just over five years in Australia and New Zealand we have grown from zero customers to over 30,000 – that is exponential growth and a symbol for truly symbiotic relationships.
Next the product must be reliable and should ideally deliver a compelling value proposition to customers. In an ideal world, a solution should enable partners to differentiate themselves from other resellers and other products.
In many partner companies, services revenue is key to incremental profitability. Does the solution enable you to upsell services to your customer base? Does it provide the ability to upsell additional on-going services, even recurring monthly services? As a vendor, we believe it is critical that our partners receive free or very low cost technical training – after all, the better trained your partners are, the better enabled they are to install their customers’ systems and support them. This is another example of treating partners as if they are an extension of the vendor’s sales and/or technical team. Would you charge your internal teams to get trained to sell or support your technology?
Another key factor is keeping close to the channel. Partners should be considered as an extension to the vendor’s sales team; however we still invest in active and skilled inside and field sales teams who regularly engage with them. Regular face-to-face meetings help ensure our ever evolving partner programme is meeting the ever changing needs our partners. Listening and being able to react is one of the strengths that our partners tell us is a powerful incentive.
Finally we find communication is vital: recently we have been exploring a suite of communication options that help keep partners informed about us and our solutions. Initiatives include a monthly e-newsletter and a mix of technical and thought-provoking webinars.