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Partner programs prove key to channel relationships

09 Sep 14

Channel partners around the world have conclusively stated that partner programs are vital to their vendor relationships.

A Canalys survey of 130 partners showed that, on average, partners rated the importance of programs to their vendor relationships at eight on a 10-point scale.

"The results highlight that in addition to good products and services, vendors need to invest in programs to have a successful go-to-market strategy," says Alex Smith, Senior Channels Analyst at Canalys, and lead analyst for the Partner Program Analysis service.

"We’ve seen more than a dozen big vendors make significant changes to their programs in the last 18 months to remain competitive in the marketplace.

"Product innovation never stops, and neither does program innovation."

The results of the survey also highlighted the most important benefits of a partner program, in order of importance, as rebates, deal registration, lead generation, account management and front-end discounts.

Findings show 26% of partners said back-end rebates were the most important benefit of a program, while 66% of partners selected lead generation as a top-five benefit.

"These are the foundation benefits of a program," says Alastair Edwards, Principal Channels Analyst, Canalys.

"Each of these contributes directly to a partner’s ability to find and win business and, eventually, to its bottom line.

"If a vendor does not get these benefits right, it will not have a successful partnering strategy."

Smith adds that all program benefits are important to some degree, but there is a clear hierarchy.

"After the foundation benefits you have the benefits that strengthen a program," he says.

"These include MDF, training courses, partner portals and specialisations. Finally, there are those benefits that help refine a program.

"These include access to vendor financing, the program branding, marketing collateral, access to events and individual sales rewards.

"These play a role in enhancing a vendor’s program, but our research shows they hold the lowest priority for channel partners."

Partners from around the world who took part in the survey told Canalys about the importance of vendors’ partner programs.

An Australian partner stated that programs were, "Extremely important to our business and the success of the product within our company."

A US partner echoed that sentiment saying that, "Without deal registration or support we will not consider selling the product."

The global study took place as part of Canalys’ on-going channels research. The full set of results were published as part of the Partner Program Analysis service, which provides analysis of issues facing vendors when building and maintaining partner programs.