Finding relationships that build your capacity

01 Aug 08

As with any investment, channel partners need to ensure they’re getting the maximum return from their vendor relationship. In order to build effective, profitable relationships, you must select a vendor that is easy to do business with. Most importantly, you must select a vendor that builds your capacity.

How can a vendor build your capacity?

The answer is simple. Look for a vendor with a differentiated partner program that provides unique support and resources to help you succeed. A vendor should build your capacity in marketing, selling, delivering, and servicing their offerings.

To find a relationship that builds your capacity, look for a vendor with the following five characteristics:

1. Solid offerings

At the core of any successful channel partner or vendor relationship is a strong line that meets the needs of your desired target market and provides you with a platform to provide value-added services. The vendor’s product suite should be resilient and reliable, not something you have to apologise to your customers for later.

The product suite should also address the unique requirements of New Zealand’s small business sector. A lucrative target market, SMBs face the same challenges around resiliency and scalability as their larger enterprise counterparts but require simple and affordable solutions to their business problems. Look for a vendor with a product suite that meets SMB needs and that can scale to provide enterprise class functionality when required. Such a platform will build your capacity to reach a variety of new markets. Also make sure the vendor gives you horizontal value across the product line. You want to be able to sell new offerings into your installed base, and build an annuity model.

2. Strong partner training

Look for a differentiated partner program that trains you for success. Training programs should include a combination of soft skills, such as sales and presentation training, as well as hard skills, like technology, installation and configuration training. The vendor should encourage your skills development and keep you abreast of its complete products and services offering, where it sees them making inroads, and new product and services in the pipeline. A vendor with a solid training program will build your capacity to provide value-added services and increase profitability. The vendor should seek to build on the skills you already have and tailor its message to suite your strengths.

3. A channel-friendly business

A channel-friendly vendor is crucial to your success. This dedication needs to start at the top with a channel-focused CEO. The CEO and executive team should ensure that the channel is fully integrated and supported within the organisation and should invest heavily in the partner community to make you more profitable. Equally crucial to a successful relationship is a committed channel director. This person should be seen as a trusted, credible advisor who listens to your needs and ensures that commitments to partners are being met.

A channel-friendly organisation minimises channel conflict and works with you, not against you, to close deals. While channel conflict is sometimes inevitable, a vendor worth partnering with should differentiate itself through its integrity and process visibility; its support for programs such as deal registration, and by driving partners toward a value model rather than just product fulfilment.

4. A deal operations program

Look for a vendor that builds your sales capacity through unique support programs. The vendor should offer a pre-sales program to protect your early investments in new business and reward you for identifying opportunities. The vendor should also have a back office to assist you throughout the deal lifecycle and provide fast turnaround on your requests. This will allow you to focus on selling and spending time with your customers.

5. A virtual marketing department

Many channel organisations do not have a fully fledged marketing department. Therefore you should look for a vendor that builds your marketing capacity via a virtual marketing department. The vendor should partner with you to deliver direct mail campaigns, customer seminars, press opportunities and co-branding initiatives. This level of engagement will reduce your cost of sale and provide you with a healthy stream of business opportunities for the future.

A vendor that builds your capacity will enable you to be self-sufficient, competitive, and most importantly profitable. Are you getting the maximum return from your relationship?   

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