We have spoken previously about the increasing complexity for vendors when designing their channel programs. With some Vendors negotiating the move to cloud and SaaS, they are engaging with an increasing number of partner types. Currently there are between 13 to 15 different partner personas today. In addition, they are navigating the emergence of new service-based business models. Therefore, one of the biggest mistakes a vendor can make is to treat all of its partners, the same. In fact, today a ‘one size fits all’ approach to partner program design will end in failure.
As such, being able to differentiate partners and create segmentation is important to ensure ease of doing business for partners. And it’s not just about tiering. You must be able to differentiate between the different characteristics of your channel partners. That could be by tier, geography, a revenue or training threshold, or indeed any other attribute.
So if you’re designing a partner program for a particular set of partners or market, all you have to do is assign them a characteristic. That could be a revenue target above £1 million in the UK, above £1 million in the UK with expertise training, or above £1 million in the UK on cloud products with three certifications. This way you really start to create a segment of partners with a specific incentive to do something you want them to do.
Let’s look at partner portals as an example. When a partner visits the portal, they should only see the content and programs that are relevant to them. Showing all programs and information, to all partners, can create difficulties for both partners and internal account managers.
For instance, if a partner does not qualify for a rebate or MDF program, they shouldn’t be given sight of it. By seeing it on the portal, they will most likely click through. At which point, they may then be advised they are not eligible. This in turn raises questions as to how well the vendor values them. Not only that, it takes time for the account manager to deal with such queries.
It’s the same for distributors – they want to register or approve a deal for a partner. What they don’t want is to see everything.
But segmentation goes beyond partner portals. It is necessary to ensure partners are receiving the right incentives, rewards and encouragement from the vendor that are relevant to their business strategy and specialization.
However, as we’ve mentioned already, catering to many partner types and sales models creates complexity for the vendor. Vendors are focused on running their program, measuring it to ensure their ROI, and tracking who their best partners and distributors are.
The partner and the distributor will have their own requirements too, of course, which means visually they are coming from three different points, like a triangle.
The Channel Mechanics platform sits in the middle of that triangle, keeping wheels spinning and managing the interactions between each of the players, serving them up only what they need to see and act upon.
Whether it’s a vendor, channel operations or channel sales teams internally, when they log in, the platform delivers a top level summary of what they need to see, and how they are doing against their targets.
Differentiation is key to ensuring partners remain engaged and that the relationship is fully maximized to drive sales. Because a partner can typically work with between seven and 12 vendors within their space, they don’t have the time or appetite to trawl through masses of information that isn’t relevant to their businesses. What they want is a vendor who understands their needs and gives them access to a partner program designed for them.