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Channel Partner Program Development: There Is No Secret Sauce

Author: Heather Margolis

When it comes to Channel Program development it would be great if there was a recipe for success, or a field of dreams (if you build it, they will come) scenario to rely on, but unfortunately there really is no one-size-fits-all, secret sauce. After working with a multitude of Vendors on Program development, it’s clear; the Vendor organizations that take the time to look critically at their Partner set, personify their ideal Partners, assess and segment Partners by needs, and come up with programs that serve their uniquely different types of Partners realize the best gains.

What’s Good for the Goose is… well… Good for the Goose

Gone are the days where Vendors could look at their programs and say, ”XYZ or ABC is what we require from our Partners,” it’s a two-way street now. In other words, what might work for one Partner might not work for another and as a Vendor; your programs need to align with the long-term goals of diverse Partners AND your organization. Therefore, if your programs don’t naturally fit within a Partners’ business model and objectives, they’re not going to participate.
When assessing your programs, think critically. If a particular requirement isn’t inherently mutually beneficial it shouldn’t have been a requirement in the first place and it’s probably time for a program refresh.

Moving the Needle (in the right direction)

When assessing Programs, Vendors should be looking at requirements as “things” that help move the needle. For example, if you make a requirement that a Partner must create a business plan, that’s great – if (and only if) it’s a plan that fits with their business.

Imagine for a minute – one of your Partners almost exclusively uses online, inbound marketing to drive demand. Now, imagine you require them to host a face-to-face event. That doesn’t work for their go-to-market strategy so it’s not going to work if your program requires it. Their only choice at that point is to restructure their marketing initiatives to cater to your requirement or not join your program. If you were them, which way would you lean?

Ease of Doing Business

Requirements are just one ingredient of a Partner Program; there are other components that also have to align with Partners in order to garner the best outcomes. That’s why we recommend starting with a full-scale assessment that looks at Partners as an individual contributors and analyzes each component as a mechanism for better usability:

  • Is the program easy to navigate?
  • Is the portal cluttered or user friendly?
  • What are your to-Channel communications plans?
  • How are training and certifications set up?
  • How quickly can Partners get questions answered?
  • Should you have tiers or not?
  • And more…

To drive more demand to and through your Channel, it’s important to have the right Partners and ensure programs are aligned in order to make it easy for them to sell your solutions.

Please reach out for more information on our approach to Partner Program development. We love to chat about the Channel and help Vendors leverage our experience! Or download these e-books to become more familiar with our program assessment recommendations:

Heather K. Margolis is CEO of Channel Maven Consulting. Read more Channel Maven Consulting blogs here.

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