As we move through February, it’s time for a quick check on channel predictions and see what trends are emerging for 2023. Continued shocks to the global economy, the cost-of-living crisis coupled with the war in Ukraine, means economic uncertainty is exceptionally high. So now, more than ever, it’s the year of channel and partner ecosystems to provide trust and stability for customers and vendors alike.
Partners own the Crown Jewels
Partners are often the one with the direct relationship with the customer. Yet vendors frequently have the data. Having access to customer data and the related insights is a growing source of competitive advantage in the channel and partner ecosystem. So, finding ways to share customer information comfortably (and mindful of legislation) is likely to become a more common ask from partners. Creating new ways to help drive focused sales and marketing campaigns leveraging the data-driven insights and activities for shared prospects and customers (including renewals) among partners — are evolving rapidly and will become even more important.
Many Flavors of Partners Converging Drives the Need for Automation
We’re already starting to see the recognition of different partner types. Whether that be Tech partners (ISV), Alliances, Resellers, Solutions partners, VARs, or Managed Service Providers (MSPs). This results in partner programs having to expand to accommodate the greater breadth of partners and partner types. However, this increased complexity in partner programs is counter to a vendors’ goals… to simplify and reduce program complexity and deliver on the promise of “being easier to do business with“.
The impacts of the economy are driving the need for smaller global teams to manage and execute programs. These teams are also being asked to, in parallel, develop tools and processes to make it easier to transact and self-serve. Yet, these same smaller teams still need to recruit, onboard, develop, train, educate, certify, motivate, and drive partner loyalty. In addition to co-selling, co-marketing, managing, measuring, and reporting. Vendors investing in automation will see competitive advantages as they are better able to get their arms around all these moving parts, drive efficiency, and in turn having an impact in partner engagement and therefor drive increased partner/channel sourced revenue.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All!
Bronze, silver, gold, or registered, elite, advanced, platinum? It’s time to face facts – the shift is happening. Partner programs are being restructured to accommodate channel & partner ecosystems vs the traditional partnerships. A tiered structure offers little advantage to vendors who are missing out on opportunities – where a VAR is an equally successful MSP, where a smaller, entrepreneurial partner is an expert in selling, implementing, and servicing but doesn’t have the same behavioural patterns as a channel heavyweight delivering volume. Customers select partners based on their expertise, experience, and their ability to help that customer achieve their business goal. Almost none of those is reflected and supported by a traditional tiered system, yet these systems can be difficult to implement and even more so to measure.
The answer: automation. We’ve seen that moving to a points-based systems can change the business, instantly adapting to suit each other’s respective needs while delivering that much-needed differentiation to partners. It’s super smart! Only matched by having an intelligent automation platform to deliver seamless execution and auditable results.
Connected Value Chain
Everyone likes to make money on a product or service. Especially the associated vendor! But partners care significantly more about what services they can wrap around a vendor’s product. This connected value chain – from the vendor to the partner, to the customers is what drives loyalty and engagement. Most vendors are striving to create the best-case working relationships within their partner ecosystems. Creating a great partner experience means making it easy to do business. And offering support is critical, whether that’s help with marketing, technical skills or sales through enablement, engagement, and communication. What your channel partners want most are relationships to become increasingly collaborative, agile, and flexible. This gives them the best chance of creating opportunity, a catalyst to accelerate deals. These combined efforts result in the vendor winning increased partner mindshare and ultimately a greater share of market.
Curious about how automation can ensure ease of doing business for your partner community? Schedule a demo today to transform your channel tomorrow.