Economic indicators may have taken a turn for the worse but that’s no reason for it to affect the quality and best practice of the channel.
Channel partnerships are an essential ingredient in the IT mix of any commercial ecosystem, but it often surprises me how casually both vendors and their customers approach the union. Just as you do in your life partnerships, it’s important for those involved not only to be passionate about the arrangement but also to strive to make it a world-class relationship.
Despite the actions and words of some in the industry, I firmly believe a world-class channel model benefits all. For vendors, an effective channel partnership simply provides the best possible insights in to the market while reducing administration costs. And because customers get better service, life becomes much easier for the channel all round.
This kind of channel is created through forging strategic partnerships with resellers and distributors where service excellence and specialised expertise are key.
So, how do we build this world-class channel model? The principles, I believe, are founded on what I call the ‘three Ps of partnering’: predictability, profitability and positioning.
Predictable partner programs and processes create a positive environment in which partners and vendors can engage. Providing partners with a profitable business opportunity is fundamental to developing a strong partner ecosystem. Internal positioning of both the vendor’s and partner’s strategic value helps to better align marketing and sales forces to support each other.
Successful, world-class channels are also built on a complete product offering, not just single point products. Some IT sectors will be increasingly concerned about this year’s business outlook, but we are hearing from customers and through analyst reports that the market is still very aware of the IT challenges it faces. In an uncertain climate, it’s important to focus your efforts and align yourself with strong business partners.
Resellers should carefully review their options when determining which vendors to partner with. They should consider the financial strength and reputation of the vendor and review the cost of engaging with them. They need to consider the associated direct and indirect costs of the time, staff development and business process alignment of partnering with a vendor. Is it more cost-effective to work with a single vendor with a complete solution or multiple point product vendors? Does the vendor have a strong partner enablement program and a culture that supports sales and services requirements? Does it have a comprehensive and differentiating solution to sell in the market? And does it have the financial strength and backing to continue to grow during challenging and changing economic times?
By volume, SMEs make up a large proportion of the New Zealand market – around 98% – so we simply cannot ignore them. The channel must act as a symbiotic entity, operating smoothly to ease the flow of business and make sure every stage is profitable, giving tangible benefits for all involved and incentivised sales.
This streamlined approach will enable the partners to put more focus on sales and customer service while enabling the vendor to build its brand and reputation in the market – for everyone’s benefit.
Phil Teague, GM for Partners and Alliances for RSA ANZ boasts twenty years' experience in the IT industry and has held several senior management positions at sister company EMC, and at BDO SynergyIT and Crone Associates.
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