Feel like you need a little extra support these days? Who doesn't! COVID-19 has made for some trying times, not only personally but professionally as businesses face substantial economic uncertainty. Whatever this new environment we're living in may be, it's nothing like "normal."
Many of us are leaning more on our closest relationships, including significant others. Fortunately, technology vendors have their own not-so-secret alliances to turn to for added strength and insight.
Spoiler alert: it's their channel partners.
Similar to a marriage, strong partner-vendor relationships don't just appear, however they must be intentionally formed and nurtured. They are steadfastly built on mutual respect and a considerate give-and-take that allows "win-win" agreements to emerge. Maybe the best thing about a great partner-vendor alignment, though, it's never undermined by a battle over the dishes.
What a Partner Wants, What a Partner Needs
A recent Forrester report tackles the topic of channel partnerships with vendors. The main takeaway is that these relationships "are going to be forged on how well vendors can deliver on channel partners' expectations." Sound familiar?
Expectation-setting is as important when initiating a partner-vendor connection as when dating. Understanding what both parties need reduces the chance of disappointment down the line.
Budding partner-vendor relationships coalesce around strategic goals, such as driving sales and delivering excellent service to keep customers coming back. This natural alignment can fall apart, if the parties fail to ask an important question: how?
How will we move forward arm in arm to realise these objectives? How can our contributions add up to more than a sum of the parts? Specifics matter, because mutual goodwill can erode if the particulars are left unsaid.
Park Place Technologies has spent years developing and refining our partner program and have four pieces of advice for other channel partners going down a similar road:
- First, take the time up front to understand each partner's unique business model, customer audience, industry needs, and response strategies. To build the right solutions together, you need to know where they're coming from.
- Include onboard training. By sharing knowledge, we ensure partners really understand what we bring to the table and can derive maximum value to enrich their own product offering, extend the contract lifecycle, and maximise financial rewards.
- Supply sales support, if possible. Our sales team of over 100 professionals proactively brings our partners into the sales process, and those who engage see a four times higher close rate.
- Underscore profitability advantages. We make sure our partners can reach 25 to 30 percent margins on our services, more than with comparable OEM-delivered alternatives, and at a lower cost to the customer so they're easier to sell in. Flexible billing rounds out the financial benefit and is worth consideration by any vendor.
From a features perspective, if you look at something like ParkView Hardware Monitoring ™, which we offer standard with maintenance contracts, it has a definitive pay-off for partners. In the words of a Park Place client at IT services provider Zones, "It's a great offering for partners like us…With a single pane of glass, we can see where the alerts are, and where we're getting failures…That's huge."
Focus on Solutions, Not Infrastructure Upgrades
An organising principle channel partners will find most helpful in the current environment is the solution. This marks a departure from a more exclusively hardware focus that is common, though far from universal, throughout the channel ecosystem.
It's easy to concentrate primarily on the physical manifestation of the channel sale—the data centre hardware the customer invests in—but placing too much emphasis on infrastructure components is risky at times like these. Budget constraints are leading many enterprises to closely examine planned expenditures and question the underlying assumptions on which each line item rests. An equipment refresh for the sake of a refresh may not proceed.
A solutions-based approach sidesteps the problem. Customers are looking for value, and they need to know how their channel partners' offerings can address the new and unexpected issues they now face.
Taking on a consultative role empowers channel partners to transcend a transactional relationship with customers in favor of a collaborative one. This stance is far more resilient, especially in a crisis. If customers are de-prioritising investments in newer, more feature-packed hardware, channel partners can stay involved by identifying sustainable solutions to gain more value from existing components, highlighting savings opportunities, and helping them target spending to areas with the highest impact on specific business problems and strategic objectives.
Packaging technology with expertise and, vitally, services will help channel partners maximise their relevance and their revenues at this difficult juncture, with the added benefit of deepening customer relationships for the long haul.
The Key is Communication
The accelerating pace of technological evolution has company leaders wondering whether they can afford to go it alone. Most of the time, vendors and partners are finding that they truly are better together. Keeping an open line of communication does take continual effort, but it also improves teams' efficiency and fosters the close collaborations that drives innovation, now when the industry and its customers need it most.
 https://s15618.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/PPT-Partner-Program-Guide-6.pdf Various general points taken from this