I always say I’m a “recovering channel professional”. If you’re in the channel, you know what I mean; not getting the support you need from corporate, always trying to please different types of partners, and not having the resources to make that happen. Things seem to be changing. I’ve had multiple conversations with vendors over the past 6-12 months who are providing their partners with what they need to be successful and grow their business. So, how are these Vendors stepping up to Support their Channel Partners?
Ugh Deal Registration or Ahh Deal Registration?
Supporting your partners has gone from just throwing some sell sheets at them to a full end-to-end sales and marketing plan. I had the pleasure of speaking with Craig Parrish, VP of SMB sales at McAfee who told me about the new partner specializations they are launching. While I have been critical of specializations in the past, vendors today are finally taking the steps to better support their partners and make specializations productive.
McAfee has introduced a new profitability tool with SMB deal registration allowing partners to increase margins by 30%. We all have a love/hate relationship with deal registration but Parrish ensures me this is a totally different, very quick, online form where partners only give a little information and is approved within a couple of hours. Many other vendors, such as Dell are also in tune with the importance of deal registration and realizing it must be easier, it must be quicker, it must make it worth partners' time.
Marketing, It’s not Just Overhead
Working as Director of Marketing at a start-up, one of the engineers once said to me “well you know marketing is just overhead, right?” Ah, no, marketing actually drives more visibility, conversation, and demand then ever before. True, partners need to learn how to integrate new media into traditional as we talked about in our eBook “Are your Solution Providers Engaging?” but more than ever, vendors are stepping up and providing the right type of support.
McAfee is also introducing streamlined access to PARC or Partner Acceleration Resource Center with 24/7 access to driving new business opportunities. As Parrish put it, “the platform is very slick and enables partners to drive new demand through fully customizable pre-packaged campaign kits.”
Teach your Partners to Fish
While these marketing resources are great, make sure you as the vendor are taking the extra step to educate partners on HOW to market. We have had the pleasure of working with AT&T Solution Providers on an educational workshop provided by the dedicated AT&T Channel team. We have gotten great engagement and feedback walking partners through how to market themselves and grow their business. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention we’ve launched custom marketing workshops to your field marketing team or direct to your partners through our relationship with Everything Channel’s IPED (okay mini sales pitch over, sorry!)
AT&T also has a very generous co-op program providing their Solution Providers with access to services including Search Engine Optimization, social platform management, and marketing execution. We work with these and other Solution Providers everyday; without a doubt those that have assistance become much more successful in the long term. Bottom line, your money is better spent teaching them to fish.
Why Should you Bother?
Stop looking at this support as something that you provide to your partners as a benefit. This is something you should be doing to benefit your own business, your own bottom line. As Parrish says, “SMB is a 7 Billion dollar business in the security space alone and McAfee is really doubling down on our channel investment to help support our partner teams. Our partners make that investment and understand the solutions for them, that can be a profitable.” This in turn will grow McAfee’s business and drive more loyalty with partners. This shouldn’t be seen as a short-term investment. The continued engagement with partners and long-term benefit of their education can truly hockey stick your channel revenue.
Do it But Do it Right
Don’t just jump into this type of support. Talk to your partners, see what your competitors are doing and make the choice that is right for you. Just like you wouldn’t throw your kids into school without making sure it had the right resources for their strengths and weaknesses, you need to assess what is best for your partners as well. Did I just refer to partners as your children? I may be a recovering channel professional but once a channel professional, always a channel professional.
Be sure to check out our partner workshops for more ideas on partner communication and how we can help!