Channel Mechanics

Designing a Channel Program: Why Being Easy To Do Business With, Can Be So Difficult

Why Being Easy To Do Business With, Can Be So Difficult

It has never been more important for vendors to be easy to work with. Channel partners are today often inundated with choice as to who they work with. Price, brand, and ease of doing business with, are consistently the top three requirements that partners seek in a vendor. However despite this, being easy to do business with can be difficult for some vendors to achieve, when designing a channel program.

Related to this, a partner can typically work with between seven and 12 vendors within their space. Of course, vendors don’t always take this on board; they often just think the partner is only working with them. It can therefore be a struggle to win partner mindshare with so much going on. Especially in crowded vendor markets like cybersecurity.

However, an enormous challenge for vendors is the high degree of complexity when designing a channel program. And it’s not just tiering, it’s about differentiation. To be able to cater for an increasing number of partner types alone is a daunting prospect, compounded by new sales models such as managed services and SaaS. This means how the vendor incentivizes and compensates partners can involve any number of variants.

For example, the vendor may want to pay a cloud service provider (CSP) more on a specific product than a traditional value-added reseller (VAR). Or it might want to encourage its VARs to migrate to selling its cloud portfolio – meaning it needs to incentivize them more on the cloud than the on-premise products. To do so, however, the vendor needs to design a channel program to capture the market, and deal with both the modern channel and the complexities of today’s channel ecosystem.

 

Frictionless Experience

Any vendor designing a channel program from scratch will find it incredibly hard work – and making it simple for partners to use is even tougher. But it is vital to do so.

We’ve all seen the increasing importance placed on the customer experience (CX) over the past few years. As consumers today, we expect exceptional customer service, tailored to our specific needs and preferences. And if a company fails to impress? We often don’t hesitate to take our business elsewhere. The same applies to channel partners – as a vendor, the partner is your customer! That means the partner experience (PX) is paramount, especially when vendors are jostling for partner mindshare.

Put simply, vendors must start putting the partner first – and designing a channel program is at the heart of this. Vendors need to invest in providing a frictionless experience for any partner logging in to register a deal or track their rewards or access sales or marketing resources. Remember, a partner may have to repeat that process with between seven and 12 different vendor portals a day.

 

Partner Journeys

Vendors must create different partner journeys to fit the partner’s individual circumstances. It is also crucial they know where each partner is in their journey and can demonstrate that to the partner. This helps to ensure they are onboarded and maintained according to their needs, creating loyalty.

But of course, if a vendor is to create their own channel program, it still requires a lot of heavy lifting. Working with a partner engagement platform like Channel Mechanics provides a way for partners to track their relationship with a vendor in a simple, fast, transparent and highly effective way via a single pane of glass – so no more siloed or missing data, or time spent filling in spreadsheets or searching for emails.

 

The bottom line for vendors is this: the easier you make the experience for partners, the more sales you’ll generate.

 

According to analyst Forrester, “Brands that provide an enhanced partner experience grow faster than their peers, are more profitable and drive higher customer satisfaction and retention downstream.”


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