Channel Partners

FAL 2015

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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customer pain and the product's value points. Additionally, they provide input to the product team to give them the visibility into what the market is saying." This is the type of partner program cloud vendors need. Getting there demands cultural changes up and down the orga- nization. Listen to and learn about your partners. Take the time to understand their business models, how they make money and how they sell. Plan to complement, not conflict with, the way they do business. Communicate and let them know what to expect from the relationship. Help them make well-informed business decisions that have a positive and profitable impact on both organizations. And most importantly, strive to earn their trust; it is the founda- tion of a successful partnership — along with increased revenues, expanded markets, and a new customer base. In addition: Develop a partner profile that fits your company culture, products and services. Recruit partners you are comfortable doing business with and who are interested in making money selling your products and services. Let them know you value a business relationship. Take the time to get to know your partners, their staffs and their business models. Show you support them not only through words but also by actions. Advise your sales, marketing and manageent teams that you expect them to treat channel partners with respect. Develop resources to actively support your partners. Create a "voice of partner" (VoP) program to listen to your partners and act quickly on their concerns. Measure their satisfaction with the metrics that are most meaningful. "Nearly every business today — from large multinationals to small home-grown companies — is increasingly dependent on strategic and healthy relationships with their channel partners," says Suraj Kumar, IBM's program director for B2B cloud solutions. "Channel partners are providing more customized value-added services to rapidly help develop market differentiators for their customers. With the move to cloud computing and SaaS solutions, channel partners are playing a vital role in integrating SaaS solutions with companies' existing systems." Note that channel partners are not off the hook for nurturing a relationship. But in many cases, if partners are not holding up their end of the bargain, then the vendor did not do a good job vetting during the recruitment process or managing expecta- tions once the partner was on board. PROCESS + TECH = SUCCESS Once the culture is in place, there are technologies that can strengthen the channel relationship. Let's discuss three that you may not have considered. PARTNER AND SUPPLIER ENGAGEMENT SOFTWARE allows access to real-time shared business processes, business connections and collaboration. Examples are Axway and IBM's popular Multi- Enterprise Relationship Management. "MRM simplifies and accelerates the often tedious process of establishing business and trading relationships and facilitates continual engagement with the community online and via self-service," says Kumar. "Channel partners can benefit from MRM by streamlining their increasingly complex interactions with companies and gaining deeper visibility to their networks of business relationships." CONTENT SHARING AND SYNDICATION from the vendor through the partner to the customer can provide a unified message. TidWit's Exterprise Platform, SharedVue and Zift Solutions are social learning platforms that help vendors empower their channels with syndicating marketing content and digital assets while maintaining end-to-end visibility and metrics. "A vendor no longer has to make a choice to either disinterme- diate the channel or run outdated manual B2B methods of content distribution through partners," says Will Yafi, TidWiT's founder and CEO. "It makes it easy, quick and affordable for partners to draw from the vast knowledge of their vendors and pass it on downstream to their customers. It provides the best of both worlds — the reach and relationships of a channel and the online cloud platform that empowers it to perform much more efficiently." SALES INTELLIGENCE SOFTWARE can go beyond just finding leads to help companies actively identify partner allies or team partners up with peers for joint opportunities. An example is SalesIntel, which Batla began after 20 years working in sales at various enterprise software companies. At one job, he had to use a massive spreadsheet to find the partner reps that matched up with him on accounts and then reach out to them individually. That led to SalesIntel's focus on helping companies build joint pipelines quickly and assist sales reps in finding the right person to sell to on an account-by-account basis. Additionally, SalesIntel is a destination for B2B sales pros to collaborate with other reps on accounts they're trying to get into. The answers are sourced from their networks of business partners. Salesforce.com's Community Cloud and Jive Software also play in this area. "The vast majority of business conducted in the U.S. and around the world still goes through channels," says Yafi. "In the U.S., commerce derived from direct B2C is less than 20 percent of total." And, there's a cap on how many companies want to deal direct. In a world of constant disruption, cloud vendors shouldn't get complacent. "At a time when competition can come suddenly and from anywhere in the world, having a strong and tight vendor-partner relationship can be the difference between a vendor's global success and failure, because it is the partners who continue to gain the trust of the customer, deploy rele- vant solutions, and maintain the client rela- tionships day-in day-out," says Yafi. "This is unlikely to change." Average Channel Revenue Growth 2010-2014 ©2015 The 2112 Group Percentage of Solution Providers 2010 100 80 60 40 20 0 2011 2012 2013 2014 <15% 11-15% <10% Dede Haas, CA-AM, channel sales strategist and practitioner for DLH Services, creates innovative and successful channel sales solutions for the vendor and the partner. She has developed and managed channel partner programs for enterprise and cloud-based products and services for SMBs and for industry leaders such as Intel Corp. For the partner, Haas has managed the vendor relationship, created business opportunities, and developed and conducted product training. She has also been a speaker, panelist, and moderator for various conferences and technology organizations, written articles for industry publications and is the author of "The Channel Sales Guide." linkedin.com/in/dedehaas CHANNELPARTNERSONLINE.COM 25

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