When it comes to channel partners, most vendors have some variation of the “80/20 rule”. This conventional thinking convinced them to pour most of their marketing funds and incentives into the top 20% of their partner base. Eventually, this lopsided investment strengthened the position of their top 20%. No judgement here, but just see what happens next naturally… Eventually, they slide further towards a more polarized “90/10 rule” as some of the top players outplay each other. Does that mean, you are left with 10% best business partners, while the others are left to fend for themselves?
It’s obvious that the more you invest in one group of partners, the more that group will flourish. While many of these are solid partners, your high level of marketing investment is probably one of the biggest drivers of their success. This practice is also riskier for vendors, as they become dependent on fewer partners.
What if there was a better way to grow your top partner base from 20% to 30% or more? What if the solution had nothing to do with your partner programs, incentives or margins? What if you could also do this for zero cost?
I believe that Best-Business Practices = Best Channel Partners.
Creating a partner ecosystem where best business practices are encouraged and cultivated will build better channel partners. To prove this belief, we built an online assessment test that channel partners can take. We also offered it for free. It was designed exclusively for VARS, MSPs and ITSPs (See www.bestmanageditcompanies.com).
The assessment includes about 200 questions to benchmark their best business practices across a dozen areas. We soon discovered that just by doing the exercise, many channel partners were able start making immediate and significant improvements (on their own)! It seems that when they started to know what they did not know, changes started to happen internally. This will only get better as they get some professional coaching.
Better managed partners will translate into more sales!
When it comes to best-business practices, at the very least, your partners must know their strengths and weaknesses. With this knowledge, partners can fix their weaknesses and better articulate their needs to vendors. In return, vendors will be in a better position to provide the appropriate investment to help them deliver ROI.
All channel managers should also understand their partners’ business challenges as it will give them a deeper and wider perspective as to what it takes to operate a successful VAR, MSP or ITSP!
This deeper understanding of partner capabilities can lead to more meaningful conversations that will formulate a much better game plan to build a stronger partnership that will be more effective, manageable and sustainable.
Here are just 5 examples where best practices can affect the results of a partnership:
1. If your partner is weak in marketing, then they may not be able to generate qualified prospects, even if you give them marketing funds.
2. If your partner’s sales people are not up to speed, then they will not be able to effectively close deals, especially if their presentation skills or sales process is weak.
3. If your partner’s management is weak, then they will not be able to generate the sustainable results. The gap in managerial and leadership skills can be the reason for stunted growth.
4. If your partner does not have good financial management or a proper system in place, then they may not be profitable or sustainable. They may not be around to pay you.
5. If your partner is not good at customer service or retention, then they may not represent your company well. This may tarnish your credibility in ways you did not imagine.
As you can see form just these five examples, if your partner is lacking in any area of best business practice it can dramatically affect your results.
How can you get your channel partners on the path to best business practices? They must first understand their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to best business practices! You basically have two choices to get this first step done – Get them to hire a professional business coach or take the free online test. If they choose to improve, then the end result will be bigger, better and stronger channel partners!