This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.
With over two decades of experience as a tenured global channel strategist – weathering through the bulky binder, paper-based partner management tools of the past that relied on fax and snail mail to update them – the introduction of technology has made a digitised and automated online portal experience possible. But, while the tools have changed – and technologies advanced – there’s one principal I have always stood by: ensuring that you are not just automating, but elevating, the partner experience. This is the ‘secret sauce’ to increasing partner attachment, satisfaction and revenue.
Unfortunately, not every independent software vendor (ISV) thinks this way. Many forget that, in today’s global economy, timely information, particularly about the cost of a project or the solution set they will be dependent on, can make or break a deal. In this competitive landscape you have to be prepared to support your channel community in real time, and on their time, whether you have the global infrastructure or dedicated headcount in their backyard.
With that principal in mind, I have always segmented channel automation into three fundamental parts when building a channel programme: enrol; enable; and engage. Enrol is at the beginning of the model – the agreements, terms and the commercial aspects of the relationship. Enable kick-starts the onboarding process by which you get your partners introduced to sales, marketing and technical enablement. The last phase is engage. In today’s day and age of technical innovation and urgency, engagement often entails a portal experience.
When helping companies re-strategise their channel adherence, commitment and onboarding, I found that, more often than not, portals are built to deliver function-based activity such as deal registration and revenue information that is aligned with what the ISV deems critical versus what the partners need to stay committed. A well-planned partner programme should have a portal experience advised by the partner that will deliver what they deem necessary and dictate the consistent engagement, as well as proper automation that will scale to a global community, ensuring a seamless and consistent experience.
My advice to any organisation looking to implement a strategic and revenue rich channel programme is this: Instead of asking “why aren’t our partners engaging with us, accessing our tools or even logging into our portal?” start asking your partners “what do you need to be a successful and committed channel partner?” What you hear may not only surprise you, it will also give you the ingredient list to a successful channel!
Marcella Arthur is worldwide vice president, Marketing & Channel Operations at Trusted Data Solutions
Trusted Data Solutions will be exhibiting at Microsoft Inspire on 14-18 July. Find out more about the event.
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