Give your partner relationship management program a second chance-- thoughts from Sirius Decisions 2017

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to several channel managers at SiriusDecisions 2017. This event was a great chance to share knowledge with channel managers with various levels of experience and exposure to the challenges of motivating, managing and rewarding their partners.
What stood out the most in all of these conversations were the common challenges that each manager faced when it came to Partner Relationship Management:
  • Tracking reseller/partner activities
  • Pushing partners to take advantage of free offerings to help them sell
  • Showing consistent product value to partners (improving the vendor/partner relationship)
Together, these all seemed like daunting tasks, but as we talked about the different tactics and strategies available to improve performance in each of these avenues, we realized that there were some basic things that everyone could do to improve their partner’s experiences.

Three great partner activities to pay attention to:
We all agreed that tracking a partner’s “activity” levels can tell a channel manager how engaged a partner is in reselling their products. What activities should channel managers be interested in? Here are a few that were mentioned—
  1. Marketing assets used - This can give you a clearer picture of where you are underserving your partners. Are you making too many sell sheets about products your partners don’t bother to resell? Do your partners know that you have presentation decks or white papers available on that hard-to-move product you just released? Knowing what marketing assets your partners use cuts down on your time and can improve their sales numbers.
  2. Opportunities created - Opportunities are great ways to gain insight into the value of deals your partners manage to close when reselling your products. We agreed that a common place for opportunity registration and tracking would be a great way to push partners to sell and help channel managers determine when and if their partners need help to build out their sales pipeline.
  3. Support tickets submitted - Knowledge share is an important piece of any vendor-partner relationship. For example, keeping track of tickets submitted can help you gain a better view of how engaged your partners are and how challenging they may think your products are to support/deliver to the end-consumer. We all agreed that support ticket tracking gave us greater insight into partner sentiment, success, and overall engagement with the vendor.
With all of these points in mind, the big question was asked—if you could repeat the next year over again, what would you do differently to improve your partner program?
Here are their top ideas—

Research more PRM options and Channel Enablement options in the market
Instead of combining many different tools together to achieve their goal, most wanted to spend more time researching a Channel Enablement software that worked for their businesses.
This made sense, because a better decision on this front could ultimately cost less, improve productivity time, and decrease headaches for already busy account managers.

Spend more time cultivating partners with MDF programs
Most MDF programs are underutilized and misunderstood by many partners. More education for partners on the benefits of MDF for their businesses and a streamlined process to deliver funds and track their usage effectively was a very popular point.

Work more closely with Support to identify Partner “hiccups”
This is a little trickier because it requires collaboration with technical support managers and greater buy-in for most organizations—but the agreed upon benefits seemed very tangible to the channel managers I spoke to —tracking tickets meant —
  1. More insight into product adoption challenges
  2. Better relationship building with partners
In the end, my biggest take-away from our discussions is the power of sharing thoughts and ideas on what makes partner program grow. It was interesting to see that regardless of industry, most managers agreed there was room for improvement if they refocused their efforts in the right way. As someone who has worked with many channel managers, this enthusiasm was a great and exciting thing to see!

Now, I have a question for you--what would you like to do differently in your partner program this year?

About Mindmatrix
Mindmatrix is the only single, fully integrated platform offering complete marketing and sales enablement for direct and indirect sales.
Mindmatrix offers Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software, Channel Marketing Automation, Asset Management software, Sales Enablement software and Marketing Automation software for the complete enablement of your sales and marketing teams.

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