Building and sustaining channel partner loyalty is key to success for any vendor leveraging the channel as part of their go-to-market model. Every vendor knows it takes time, effort and cost to recruit, on-board and develop new channel partners to a level where they can make sales and bring revenue to your table. At this point, some vendors think their work is done. However, considering the effort to get to this position, now is not the time to take your eye off the ball and allow these new partners to fail, or worse still, fall into the hands of your competition.
Properly motivated and rewarded partners will act as a seamless extension of a vendor and can quickly create the desired reach into new markets and end customers previously not attainable. In addition, partnering to expand reach and revenue can be done faster and at a fraction of the cost that it would take doing it directly.
Motivating, rewarding and protecting partners are key elements in building and sustaining channel partner loyalty. The following are some areas that will help achieve these:
Provide partners with a Deal Registration Program to ensure they receive an agreed exclusivity period to work the deal without risk of others competing on it. If they close the deal or move it to a qualified opportunity during this time, they will be rewarded with an agreed percentage upon closure. This creates trust with the partners and at the same time provides clear visibility on the sales pipeline. In the absence of such a program both partners and direct sales people could end up competing on the same business rather than working together, with pipeline only being visible when sales are closed. Deal registration is a core part of channel programs for more than 90 percent of B2B vendors and one of the first features partners will look for as they seek assurance they can lay claim on opportunities generated through their efforts. Deal Reg can have many levers allowing rewards to be varied based on elements such a customer type (new or existing), product, geography or partner. Simple examples being the ability to pay out more on cloud product sales or net new customer acquisitions.
Ease of Doing Business (EODB) is often overlooked by large organizations with ample resources but for smaller organizations like the partner community, it is extremely important as they may not have the time or resources to navigate the complex programs, offers and tools provided by vendors. Partners typically sell five or more competing offers and it follows that vendors that are easier to do business with are the ones that partners gravitate towards and become more loyal to. Providing an easily accessible partner portal, that is simple to navigate and one that has current and relevant information, is a big help to a partner sales person.
Partner Differentiation, Partners expect recognition for the work they do and the revenue they bring to the table. Therefore, all good channel programs build recognition levers into their fabric. In today’s business environment, the need for a vendor to differentiate its partner base has never been greater. Vendors need to execute programs that differentiate and target partners to levels of granularity not previously possible. Being in a position to get the right offer, to the right partner, at the right time, creates a competitive advantage and provides the partner with the best chance of success, thereby building channel partner loyalty. An inability to differentiate partners to the required levels of granularity will result in partners receiving offers that are not relevant to them. When this occurs, partners quickly become frustrated as their expectations are not being met, driving them to shop around…most likely in the direction of your competition.
By taking the time to address these key areas, vendors can significantly improve their approach to achieving channel partner loyalty. For help in implementing a solution in any of these areas, please get in touch to see how we’re transforming channel program execution with our channel enablement platform, channelIT.
Author Kenneth Fox, CEO Channel Mechanics
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