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All Channel Partners are NOT Created Equal: 4 Ways to Maximize Engagement and Support

Bonnie Russell

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The IT channel is undergoing significant change. Each week you hear technology manufacturers double down on investments in their channel partners. They’re constantly looking for ways to add more value and ensure channel partner success.

So where do you focus when it comes to your channel partners? This has been a big topic of discussion especially as cloud computing is more prevalent than ever.

Forrester Research predicts the total global public cloud market will be $178 billion in 2018, up from

$146 billion in 2017, and will continue to grow at a 22% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

 

The Channel Partner Landscape Is Changing

Channel partners are having to re-evaluate their business models in order to capitalize on cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) opportunities. These organizations are essential for buying and integrating multiple vendors or creating a hybrid environment in which there are both on-premise and public cloud solutions.

The IT channel is seeing a rise in born-in-the-cloud providers who are already in a position to successfully build their business practices around software and services. More and more of these providers are evaluating where to place their technology manufacturer bets.

Traditional value add resellers (VARs) are shifting their businesses from building on-premise solutions to finding ways to integrate cloud offerings. This affects staffing requirements, upskilling their workforce and finding new revenue streams tied to software and services. Some VARs are looking to shift their business to be more of a managed service provider to remain relevant. The result is VARs that are in different stages of evolving their business. 

 

Related: Find out how to stay ahead of the changing channel loyalty landscape and create brand advocates by engaging your partners in new and unique ways.

 

Engaging and Supporting Channel Partners

Channel partner programs were built on the traditional VAR model. Now, it’s about retaining end-customers, improving service levels and reoccurring revenue models. There’s also the constant flow of new offerings and cross selling opportunities in play. With this comes the need to help partners make money and support a wide ecosystem of IT solutions.

 

1. Building Channel Loyalty

First, evaluate the tiers in your partner program along with what support partners need to change their business. Share best practices on how partners have adapted to the new technology landscape. Provide access to tools, resources and keep the dialogue open. 

Develop long-term strategies to engage channel partners and make them feel part of a community or movement.

Blend consistent communication as well as face-to-face opportunities to interact with channel partners. Re-evaluating your channel loyalty program is another way to drive the right behaviors and create mindshare.

 

2. Re-evaluate Your Channel Loyalty Program

Gone are the days where product spiffs were the norm. Build a program that motivates and rewards partners for not just selling but steps that lead to the sale. For example: If product demos are an area of focus, put an incentive around this that'll encourage solution providers to provide information on this activity.

Use a platform to support multiple ways to reward partners such as growth-based incentives or a pre-qualifier to earn. Infuse technology, such as gamification, to make it fun and interactive.

 

3. Channel Partner Events

Complement your marketing efforts with face-to-face channel partner conferences, roadshows and workshops. In-person meetings and trainings are a great way to increase the comfort level of products and develop relationships. Another focus area is helping partners with servicing their end customers better as new solutions and products are rolled out. The more value the channel partners can bring to their end customers—the better. Take advantage of opportunities to interact through pre-, during and post-event engagement elements.

 

Related: See how we partnered with one leading automotive parts distributor to position its expo event for unprecendented success—and how we can do the same for your next event.

 

4. Measure With Data

With any channel program you’ll want to measure usage and results. As you plan for the future, leverage the data to identify trends and opportunities to shift dollars and improve ROI. Lastly, take advantage of data integration to get a holistic view of partner activity and look for areas that are making the biggest impact.

Looking for better ways to recruit and enable channel partners? Find new opportunities for engagment and support on the channel partner's journey.

Bonnie Russell's picture

Bonnie Russell

Bonnie is a sales and marketing professional with over 17 years of experience designing and operating channel programs and events. Her experience includes working in distribution creating go-to-market strategies for top manufacturers. She is focused on helping solve challenges and uncover new revenue opportunities in the fast-paced and constantly changing technology marketplace.

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