Segmentation has been a common theme in vendor-partner relationships since the channel began. This segmentation traditionally focused on the revenue generated by channel partners with tiering driven by the current and potential financial returns anticipated. Rewards and incentives are commonly offered depending on a partner’s position in the vendor’s channel structure.
Programmes used in channel partner management provide grounds for determining how well both parties perform in the business relationship. They can act as reference points and provide a guide on how to do business correctly and efficiently, detailing policies and procedures. Partner programmes recognise partners who provide the highest level of value to customers.
One of the seminal shifts occurring in the channel is in the way partner programs are devised and managed. We are no longer dealing with the ‘one size fits all’ approach; vendors are realising they must understand their partners’ requirements and drivers and tailor their programmes to create common goals. Vendors are looking to identify value creators and value detractors among their base and find more efficient ways to interact with them based on those criteria.
In effect, vendors are developing programmes to create momentum with the partner, drive revenue and minimise operational inefficiencies. The partners’ goals should be dependent on the level of engagement desired, as well as available expertise and resources.
To develop successful partner programmes, vendors must realise that revenue is just one way to measure success. Not only should partners be rewarded for their sales, vendors must also create a true partnership with loyal resellers who are interested in investing in the business. They must recognise and reward all levels of channel partners for loyalty and the value-add they bring to the business and to end customers.
With one-size-fits-all partner programmes, vendors can find it hard to understand which partners need what level of support. In developing tailor-made partner programmes, it is easier to understand each individual partner’s requirements and identify the levels at which they are contributing to the business.
Tailored programmes allow for smarter allocation of support, investments and training to partners at just the right time, depending on their level of commitment. They also allow for more sophisticated analysis to identify marketing and partner engagement inefficiencies. Partners who are doing well can be promoted and rewarded and partners who show signs of slipping can be given a helping hand.
This improved support and service will empower channel partners and help drive growth to differentiate their business. Partner capabilities are enhanced and partners can market more effectively, close more sales and develop more successful solutions for their customers.
For vendors, the segmented programmes help to shift from broad tier based communications and support to value based segmentation and support. Vendors can provide more targeted support for their channel partners and better quality and useful information to affirm and improve partner value.
Regularly reviewing and evaluating partner programmes is also important to ensure partners are best prepared to sell and support a variety of different prospects.