It’s 2019! Do you know where channel partner relationships are managed in your organization?
For years, the answer to that question was: “Sure. In Channel Sales.” And it’s true that Sales still has the main responsibility for managing the channel partner program and its associated performance goals. But…an important channel partner relationship can be forged and found in product teams, marketing departments and other nooks and crannies throughout the organization. Evolution happens, driven by business necessity. Once relegated to a single, expert function, channel partner management has become a critical component of corporate DNA. And the results aren’t always what you hope for.
Companies aiming to leverage the full strength of all its’ channel partner relationships, need to take some time to answer this basic question first. Where is the channel partner relationship managed? After that, a few additional key questions should be addressed:
A good place to begin to answer these questions is an “inventorying” exercise designed to categorize the channel partner relationship by primary function – solution, sales, service and influence. “Functions” are an ideal way to define channel partners because they provide:
The following “glossary” is a basic guide to help your organization take stock of its channel partner relationship types. Of course, most companies will have a subset of what’s described. And of course, the partner categories can and should be segmented further for optimum management.
Primary Value: Develop and deploy solutions for customers. They drive usage of a vendor’s portfolio assets and assure and optimize interoperability.
Primary Value: These partners directly drive revenue growth
Primary Value: Provide pre and/or post-sale support services to customers. In the CapEx model, they support the sale and drive revenue growth. In the OpEx model, they drive the majority of revenue.
Resell vendor-branded services
Add value on top of vendor services
Act as a sub-contractor to the vendor
3PL (Third Party Logistics) – This is a company that provides logistical and fulfillment services to the market on behalf of the vendor. Does not take title but receives a service fee.
Financing – Provides financing solutions to partners who are building large, complex and costly solutions.
Training and Certification Partners – Provide training and certification services.
EPC (Engineering, Construction and Procurement) – Companies who bring large project expertise for complex, customized systems.
Consulting, Design, Procurement, Deployment – Companies that help enterprises move from CapEx to OpEx solutions.
Primary Value: They indirectly drive revenue growth.
Once you have mapped your organization’s partner categories, the next step is to make sure everyone is properly managed. Not everyone is – or should be – managed via a formal channel partner program.
The options you choose will depend on factors such as industry convention, relative vendor/partner power and degree of homogeneity of channel partner business models within the segment. The following are some typical management structures:
|Formal Program Support||ISH/IHV, Platform Partners, System Integrators (SI’s), Cloud Resellers, MSP/CMSP (post offer commercialization), Solution Resellers, Value Added Distributors, Authorized and Certified Services Partners, Planning, Design, Procurement and Deployment Partners|
|Formal Support (ex. policies, processes and people)||
Developers, Sales Agents, Engineering, Procurement and Construction Companies, Interoperability Partners
|One-on-One Management||MSP’s/CMSP (pre offer commercialization), OEM’s|
|Service Level Agreements (SLA’s)||3PL’s, Training and Certification Partners, Financing Partners|
|Marketing and PR Initiatives||Influencer Partners|
Companies looking for ways to consolidate this wealth of partner value into an asset base that can be leveraged by the whole organization, can look to Channel Mechanics for help. Their robust tool is designed to manage channel partner programs across a broad spectrum of partner types. Additionally, the tool can help with partner profiling, which is essential for a full, company-wide view of all channel partner relationships and for further segmentation.