Best Practices for Driving Channel Partner Collaboration
Vendors that can drive channel partner collaboration are winning. Alliances between technology vendors that create a solution where the whole is worth way more than the sum of the parts is a core value proposition of the channel. The great shame, however, is that most of the efforts to create multi-vendor solutions fail miserably. This occurs not because the technologies don’t fit well together, but rather the systems being employed to manage the sales efforts of the various vendors are simply incompatible with one another. The result is there’s no way to collaboratively execute a go-to-market strategy.
This long-standing challenge is now making it more difficult than ever to successfully leverage an alliance at a time when customer buying behavior is fundamentally changing. Organizations are making it clear they no longer want to be in the business of stitching various products together. What they require is channel partner collaboration, whereby vendors and their channel partners deliver more of a turnkey customer experience. Anything short of that capability is no longer considered a viable product offering.
Channel Partner Collaboration
Channel partners that recognize this issue are succeeding, but it’s usually no thanks to the IT vendor community. Either because of their own initiative or a decision to work closely with one specific distributor, they have been able to create successful multi-vendor solutions. The problem is these efforts are more the exception than the general rule.
Vendors form joint venture and marketing agreements all the time. Most of them are widely derided as “Barney Agreements” because there’s no substantive inclusion of any method to execute a sales motion on what is little more than an expressed set of good intentions. The vendors have essentially agreed to do little more than, as Barney the Purple dinosaur encourages us all, to simply “like” each other. As friendly a notion as that may be, it’s easy to understand how thousands of these types of agreements start to generate a level of cynicism among channel partners that in the end is counter-productive.
To address this particular challenge, Channel Mechanics built into our channel enablement platform the ability to simply co-ordinate go-to-market strategies involving multiple vendors and distributors; right down to selecting which channel partners can participate. In a nutshell, vendors can combine separate product offers (hardware/software/services) and offer them to appropriate partners using a simple GUI. Channel Mechanics enforces all pricing and discounting, as well as delivery/fulfillment to partners. So not only can vendors collaborate to provide an overall offer that’s greater than the sum of the parts, they can do it in a way that’s easy for partners to consume.
Unfortunately, not enough IT vendors are aware of what’s truly possible using a modern channel enablement platform. In an ideal world, every marketing agreement between two or more vendors would be accompanied by a set of incentives for channel partners that are easy to create, maintain and analyze.
Only then is it possible to realistically evaluate whether a specific alliance was worth the trouble to create or, more likely, simply requires some adjustments to live up to its true potential. It’s these kinds of unique capabilities that make it possible to create truly joint ventures across an extended channel.
Vendors must make it simpler for partners to combine products and services
The more products and services involved per transaction, the more profitable channel partners become. We all know the average solution consists of multiple products and services from different vendors. The vendors that make it simpler for channel partners to combine products and services reduce the friction associated with any transaction. That effort invariably attracts the attention of solution providers focused on not only generating more profit per transaction but also providing a higher quality customer experience.
With this in mind, we invite you to check out our channel enablement platform. See how much simpler it is to manage joint initiatives involving multiple vendors. Get motivated to drive channel partner collaboration and form more industry alliances than ever.