We are currently seeing a very interesting trend with our partner channel clients – the need for enhanced enablement. Our view is unique because with so many great clients, we have a very broad vision of the channel as a whole. We are positioned to see emerging trends, and quite honestly, we are able to anticipate how the channel needs to evolve.
The biggest part of this constant evolution is how much more the partner seems to be dictating the terms of the partnership. The pendulum of power has swung from manufacturer to partner and it’s interesting to see how our clients are reacting to this.
Not long ago, manufacturers were clearly out front in the relationship and driving the channel value propositions. They created a strong channel program, partners hitched themselves to this flagship platform and that’s how they did business. They relied on one large manufacturer to be their lead product and they took full advantage of discounts, rebates, and MDF. Everything else just became a part of the rate card and everything ran relatively smoothly.
Partners have moved to building a solution that includes many products and services. It’s not just a one-brand install any more. It’s a cloud solution with a security layer and cloud storage, mobile devices (with service), thin clients on-site with virtualization software, and an integrated communications piece to bind it all together. It’s a more complex (and at times, convoluted) solution, and rarely does one large manufacturer dominate the message. So with large manufacturers being just a part of a more diversified solution, what makes THEIR program so special? What makes them stand out with the partners?
It all comes down to enablement – and not just enablement on YOUR products and YOUR programmatic systems. Provide them with a marketing and demand generation engine.
It’s time to be the manufacturer that truly enables the solution-selling partner. We are talking about enablement that drives pipeline and sales, not just knowledge and incentives. The trend is to provide a program that generates leads (not lists…actual leads), self-serve automated marketing platforms, ready-made marketing campaigns, and concierge support.
Many manufacturers have struggled with generating demand in the past, and it’s always been a headache for partners. But in the age of cloud solutions and a new recurring revenue model, customer demand has rocketed to the front of the pack of priorities. The way we see it, it’s a great opportunity for the manufacturer to be the vendor that enables this practice. Make YOUR enablement platform the weapon of choice, and seize the opportunity to be the most valued player in their complex solution.
Many of our clients are moving in this direction, some are not. Several have recognized this glaring need and they are not just ready to change, they are turning to us to help them enhance this enablement. Some of these clients have recognized this, but are a bit paralyzed by their lack of know-how and organizational flexibility. And a few others have not recognized it yet and continue to overlook the situation.
We see all three cases, so we are speaking to all of our clients (and non-clients) about how we can generate true demand for partners and build a “through-partner” marketing platform. The question is, how are you enabling your partners?
Are you the manufacturer that enables, or is your head still in the clouds (no pun intended)?