Engaging the partner channel isn’t as easy as it once was. Partners are more diverse and specialized, margins have thinned, and hard-good solutions are rapidly transitioning from one-time fees (with service contracts) to subscription-based solutions. Those companies who recognize that the partner channel is changing, and embrace the change, will be positioned for success in the coming years. But, those who choose to maintain business as usual, will likely see their channel slip through their fingers.
We’ve found that partner channel success comes from understanding your partner’s business and pain points. Adhering to the following critical concepts for partner engagement will better position companies for success in the new partner channel.
- Recognize that one size doesn’t fit all
With the rapid channel changes we’re seeing as new resellers enter the field, partners consolidate, and solutions shift to cloud offerings that are subscription based, it’s more important than ever that the long tail of low or non-transacting partners are not forgotten. A solid plan for coverage should be in place to ensure this growing segment of partners and revenue is not lost.
- Build long-term relationships with your partners
Partners without a deep, existing relationship already established with your company will likely fall in and out of favor with your product and service offerings as their customers’ demands change. A key success factor in building a long term relationship with a solution provider is to create role-based content. MarketStar has a proven four-step relationship-driven content process for long-term results:
- Target and address their business profile
- Validate your value proposition
- Establish their readiness
- Give them the sales support they need
- Create diverse partner engagement communications
If you want to capture significant revenue in today’s diverse partner environment, you need to avoid generic messaging and give partners effective communication that fits their specific needs. Partners often get relegated to self-serve support and therefore don’t get the support they need to incubate their business. Appropriately building and delivering diverse outbound communication will drive inbound actions. Partners want a company who is involved and supports them at multiple levels, and values their commitment as much as the partner values the company, and you can’t do that if you don’t communicate with them in a way that they understand and expect.
- Selectively invest in your partners
When attempting to cultivate a broad partner community, companies often make the mistake of inundating target partners with content en masse, and then simply wait for them to raise their hand and ask for help. Companies must be willing to hand-pick target partners with the right mix of attributes to invest in and groom. These “rising stars” should be given special resources and support for a defined period of time to help them accelerate performance.
- Use Big Data to create a data-driven culture
Big Data means going beyond a name, e-mail address, and industry; where building a small, targeted list is far better than a big list. Some of the difficulty in business-to-business Big Data is that a company is a collection of people who behave and act in different ways. Having the ability to triangulate Big Data utilizing analytics is where the magic really happens. Companies must create a culture where Big Data and Predictive Analytics guide investments and go-to-market decisions.
Partner channel success might be difficult in today’s environment, but it doesn’t have to be hard. It takes a high-degree of precision and nurturing of relationships, while ensuring the right resources and partners are being engaged. By acting on these five concepts, companies will be positioned for success this year, and in years to come.
If you can do these things well on your own, great, but if you need help, companies like MarketStar have the expertise to position your channel for sustained growth. The important thing is that you engage and enable your channel for success.