How to Build a Competent IT Channel Strategy?


It would not be an overstatement to say that the success of a business depends on channel partners. Their efficiency and loyalty toward the vendor and the product they offer, strike a success pattern.

It should be considered that the partners are successful businessmen themselves. They are at the vanguard carrying marketing message and are often the face of the principal organization. These partners should therefore be well-versed with the products they offer, the best possible price range and have a sound knowhow on the benefits they offer to end-customers.

True essence and profitability of a business can be realized only when the entire ecosystem- vendors, partners and end users works and coordinates in harmony. It is for the vendor to understand that each channel partner or a group of partners catering to a particular customer segment need specific collateral, trainings and access to specific forums.

It is important to understand how vendors and their channel partners sell IT solutions. Training becomes an important medium to engage and involve the channel partners in business and seek a long-term commitment from them. The way businesses want to consume technology, have created some urgency around how partners make investments in education, certifications and specializations.

Training goals should mirror the business goals of your organization. So the challenge for both vendors and partners is keeping pace with training as well as developing the right combination professionals in the domains.

More Support for Channel

Partners cannot sell optimally unless they are equipped with the right tools. With the right support the channel will be able to generate new revenue streams where companies can capitalize on. With the ever-changing demand of business partners should be updated every time to enable success is critical for a company’s partner program. Training-as-a-service and self-paced training models should be imparted to encourage partners to learn about vendor offerings and how to deliver customized offering to the customer.

The on-demand consumption model brings new challenges for both vendors and partners. Partners need significant support such as sales and technical training; certifications and specializations; Marketing to, with and through; deal registration and incentives; Pre- and post-sales support programs; Partner-to-partner initiatives. Most vendors are going the extra mile to deliver it.

Partners have become imperative in developing profitable and sustainable businesses that not only adopt but also highly leverage cloud computing technologies.

Vendors require Partners in every vertical market such as healthcare, retail and finance, or departmental solutions such as marketing analytics, customer management and support enablement. Solutions developed around specific technologies, like network management and disaster recovery are on way. (Read full article here)

Shun ‘one shoe fits all’ approach

It is of paramount importance to identify how well a vendor’s solution fit the need of the customer. The vendor mustaccess how likely are the partner’s customers ready to purchase. Once there is a good sense for each partner’s potential, this is the time to score them. For instance, some partner may have good traits in a particular domain and a deal with them looks very impactful. While other partners have these traits to a lesser degree and bring less revenue but may be very fast.

It is one thing to find a partner as per a specific requirement, it is yet another thing that even different partners have their own go to market approach. Despite the different levels of expertise and technical know-how, each partner is significant for channel success, and it is up to the vendor to find what will encourage the partner to sell.

Providing solution rebates for sales and open discounts for new deal registrations is one way of rewarding a partners’ effort.The more a vendor provides timely and relevant information that incentivizes selling, the program will be ushered in with more enthusiasm and spell more success.

Yet another challenge within the channel is predicting performance. A vendor while designing a partner program can rope in several resources, including VARs, MSPs, consultants and distributors to sell a product and or solution, but each presents a unique set of challenges when partnering.

For example, a System Integrator (SI), coordinates remotely a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems. In such a scenario, only the vendor is responsible for the system operations used by the customer. However, in an outsourced SaaS model, a SI has little control over the actual performance of the product. But, since the SI is taking the solution to the customer he becomes the brand ambassador in a way. In case of a performance issue with an IT solution, customers will associate the fault with the SI. Clearly the channel partner takes all the risk while sometimes being inadequately rewarded.

Satish Choudhary, Director, Techniche, explained, “At times when things fail to work in tandem, it projects a bad impression to the customers and dents our reputation and on the other hand vendors washes away hands saying it is our work to coordinate and make things work since we are the System Integrator. This lands us in a typical ‘sandwiched’ situation,” (Read full article here)

To avoid such situations vendors and partners must work together at the very onset of program designing. They should be in agreement, amply rewarded and have the full knowledge of performance indicators that accurately define a successful partnership and churn success for vendors and partners alike.

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