Last week I wrote a post on recruitment from a vendor's perspective, today I'll look at it from a Partner's perspective. While the vendors are looking to recruit new partners, the partners are analyzing the cost/benefit of taking on a new vendor's product. There are more considerations than one would think.
Channel Maven Blog
When a vendor channel is in the early stages of development, their requirements for channel partners are usually only that they have a pulse. Fast forward 12 to 18 months and the channel is 5% partners who are actively engaged and 95% who sold once on a customer's request and then disengaged.
Some partner programs pride themselves on their extensive number of partners. Congratulations, are partners supposed to be excited about that? Welcome to our partner program! You now have more competition for your business then you did before you joined. I'm not saying vendors should have fewer partner, let's be reasonable. But, don't be so out of touch with your partners that you promote your partner list as a benefit to them.
In honor of Earth Day this year I'm looking for vendors and channel partners who do it right. The "Green" thing that is. About 18 months ago (before the entire economy imploded) all we heard about was going green. Some companies did it right like IBM lowering the energy expenditure of their products and finding lower emission options for transport. While other companies such as Dell were using green as a marketing tactic talking about skipping their old piecemeal ways and shipping entire infrastructure solutions to end users in one big box. This sounds like a worthy green initiative, but don't the pieces come to Dell as a bunch of little boxes first? Partners were also up in arms as putting it all together is part of the value they add. In Dell's defense that was over a year ago and they've done some great things since then. The important thing is that Green initiatives are actually doing some good!
I wrote a post 'Is Saas Channel an Oximoron' a couple of months ago but having just come from the Babson Alumni Technology Council's breakfast on cloud computing I wanted to revisit it from a different perspective.
While working at EqualLogic, about 2 months before the Dell deal was finalized (and I was to become a Dell'er) I was at a conference where solution providers were giving vendors feedback. There stood a very articulate solution provider who had just given the audience some great feedback on what works and what doesn't when it comes to communications, rebates, margins, and incentives. "And one more thing", he added enthusiastically. "I don't care what they do, I'm NEVER doing business with the four-letter word in channel!"
In my last position I was working for a SaaS vendor that has a legacy premise based product being sold through the channel. As our SaaS business picked up the channel was going to being selling that product as well. Stepping away from this business I needed to take a look at how a SaaS based channel product differed from a premise based software or hardware for that matter.
Do you belong to more partner programs then you have sales people? Do you sign up to become a partner simply because your customer wants to buy that vendor's product? Do you sign up for vendor programs then never complete the requirements? With all of the vendors and products to choose from no one could really blame you, but is it truly benefiting your business?
Most channel programs have tiers they put their partners in. Gold, Platinum, and Diamond or Professional, Advanced, and Super-duper Advanced. Whatever you call it, just because you have neat little tiers that your solution providers fit into that does not mean those partners all need the same support whether financial, technical, or sales/marketing related. You've tiered these companies most likely based upon how much revenue they bring you, how many events they attend, whether or not they've bought a demo unit, and how many certified professionals they have with you. Does that mean you wouldn't give top tiering to a solution provider who has brought you $10M in revenue, has 20 certified professionals, and attends an event a month just because they won't buy a demo unit? It had better not or you are SO missing the point.