Do you respect your channel partners?
Too often, channel partners get no respect. For many technology businesses, channel partners have the relationship that connects your service to the customer. They bring the trust, credibility, and consultative approach that would take many times the budget in advertising, telemarketing and yes, even inbound marketing, to duplicate. And they don’t make any money until they sell your service, like a commission-only salesperson.
So why are these golden resources treated so shabbily by executives at technology companies? I have a few ideas.
Three reasons why channel partners get no respect
1. Channel partners can seem lazy
Channel partners have their own business to run. Not your business, their business. They are not lazy. In fact, they are often very self-motivated people. They are also aware that time is money. If it is too difficult to make money representing your service, they will work on some other project that makes them money. Your job is to make representing your service profitable – easy to understand and demonstrate, reliable and beneficial to the end customer. For more ideas on making your business easy for partners to deal with, see this blog by Channel Insight.
2. Channel partners don’t communicate well
Channel partners are busy and need a convenient way to contact your company on their schedule, not yours. If they don’t communicate, it may be that your systems aren’t set to their style. Make sure phone, email and web chat requests are monitored well. Also be sure your sales and support materials are easily available via responsive web pages. Channel partners in the field rely on their smart phones more than laptops. Finally, understand that all channel partners do not have the same needs or messaging. Try a one-to-one instead of mass marketing approach to communicating with them as outlined in this linked article by Gartner.
3. Senior management doesn’t connect with channel partners
While sales leader see the value of channel partners, other business leadership may have a tendency to view the channel as a step above, or below, unpaid interns. This can be a big mistake. Channel partners, particularly very successful ones, can bring a wealth of feedback on improving your business services and systems. These suggestions can lead to direct improvements in your offering and to your bottom line. Organizations that are serious about connecting their leadership with their channel invest in solutions that specifically address the channel, such as Citrix did with SAVO software*.
BUILDING A CHANNEL IS NO EASY TASK
Building a successful partner channel requires a dedicate strategy with integration of all areas of your company, not just the sales group. Companies with successful partner channels, such as Salesforce.com or HubSpot, embrace and respect their channel partners, building the symbiotic relationship that helps all members of the partnership.
For more information on creating and developing a powerful, profitable partner channel, contact us for a free 1/2 hour channel partner program review. Find out where the easy wins are in your channel partner program, and how to capture them.