cl-nz logo
Story image

How to get the most out of partner programmes

02 Mar 2012

Navigating incentives and benefits in partner programmes can be overwhelming for those new to programmes or even established members. However, knowing what programmes exist and who to ask to participate in them makes it possible to reap partner benefits and leverage these programs to their full extent. It’s not only about being informed and educated about programmes but also about realising the potential partner programmes can bring to the growth and future of your business. What to look for when selecting a vendor: Market leadership and breadth of portfolio First, look at choosing a vendor with market leading technology. Select one, with good breadth in their portfolio. The cost of doing business with one rather than multiple vendors is an attractive value proposition to both your customers and you. Standardising reduces complexity and helps you get more out of your partner relationship. It can mean better purchasing power, less systems and processes to learn or access to benefits that scale based on your investment. Scaling benefits with investment In addition, find a vendor who can help you differentiate yourself in the market based on your expertise and level of investment. Consider this like you would customer loyalty schemes: the more you invest the more benefits you reap. Look for a vendor who scales your benefits with your level of investment. Key questions to ask when selecting a vendor:

  1. How does the market view this vendor? Who will my customers be asking for?
  2. Do they offer multiple solutions? Standardising on one vendor is economical and more resource efficient.
  3. Are they innovating? With new routes to market such as cloud evolving so quickly, will I be able to move with them to capitalise on these opportunities in the future?
  4. What does their partner programme offer? What will my investment and membership yield?
  5. What investment will this vendor make in my business if I invest in them? Will they differentiate me from my competitors who have not invested equally?

Navigating the benefits for maximum value A broad range of tools and resources are available in most partner programmes, with vendors investing in training and enablement in particular. This can be complex and knowing where to start and how to take advantage of these benefits can be quite overwhelming if you’re new to a programme. When looking at training offered through programmes, it’s essential to ask:

  1. What is the on-boarding process? How am I going to get access to the tools and resources I need to skill up?
  2. What are the ongoing training and enablement offerings available? What investment, both in monetary and personnel terms, will I need to make and what is the ROI for my business?
  3. Does the vendor offer a wide variety of flexible options for accessing training and resources so that I can select what works best for my team?

Generating business leads The key reason for partnering with a vendor is to expand your business opportunities and better service your customers. Similarly for vendors, the channel helps them to reach new markets and service more customers. It’s a mutually reciprocal relationship. Therefore engagement with the sales team is critical to success. Before looking to create leads, make sure you’re trained up and enabled. And understand the unique value proposition you and the vendor present to your customer. Be proactive in networking with your vendor contacts and find opportunities to collaborate for mutual success in customer accounts. In addition, find out what benefits are available to you through the vendor’s marketing programmes. These might include access to marketing development funds, free marketing tools or programmes or access to a vendor-lead management process. Key pipeline development questions to ask your vendor:

  1. How do I get access to the vendor sales team to build relationships and share opportunities?
  2. How do I obtain access to marketing development funds and vehicles to generate new business opportunities?
  3. Does the vendor have a partner lead management process and how do I qualify to access leads?

Financial benefits There are a range of financial benefits available through partner programmes. Volume rebate programmes are generally available to highly invested partners and deal registration rebates may offer additional margin or profitability opportunities. Find out how rebates work within your specific partner progamme. In addition, ask what kinds of incentives there are for individuals. Many financial incentives are geared to companies, but a successful business will ensure their field team is being rewarded to achieve a shared objective. Understand incentives available for the individual stakeholders in your organisation. Key financial questions to ask:

  1. Is this vendor profitable? Are their margins attractive? Can I attach my services to licence sales?
  2. Do they have rebate, deal registration or margin builder programmes?
  3. Do they offer incentives or spiffs for my sales team? How can I harness them to drive the outcome I need?

Partner support Finally, when selecting a vendor to partner with, it’s important to look at what support they provide and how to access it. Also, consider your medium- to long-term strategy and ask what support is available to those who have a long-term relationship with the vendor. Remember support is not limited to programme benefits or access to an account manager. Find out how the vendor promotes their partnerships both internally and externally, and where their channel strategy fits in relation to their company strategy and culture. Key questions to ask about support:

  1. How do I access support across the organisation including sales, technical, marketing and programme support?
  2. Does the vendor have published channel rules of engagement?

The vendor landscape can be complex, especially to those new to the industry. However, partner programme benefits can give your business a great advantage in the market. Select a good vendor with a wide portfolio and a strong channel culture; find out about the training and resources offered; look at how your vendor will work with you on potential business opportunities and find out how your vendor’s profitability programs work. Success is all about capitalising on the benefits available to you and ensuring you get the most out of your investment, so you can focus on servicing your customers and growing your business.