Tell us about a company that you’ve worked with that’s greatly improved their channel program.
One SaaS company that we worked with recently, in their base in San Francisco – a lot of the SaaS companies we work with have the same challenge, they’re fast-growing. They have a strong value proposition for why a channel partner should work with them. Because it’s a fast product. They’re getting a couple of dollars on licenses a year. The services may not be that robust. So one of the things that we did with them to help accelerate their partner ecosystem was start to look at kind of the variety of types of partners. So we stopped talking about labels. Are you an ISB, or a reseller, a VAR, or a systems integrator? Instead we’re looking at, what are the partners doing? Are they reselling? Are they referring? Are they bundling? Are they integrating? So we’re able to structure a new way of working with different types of partners based upon what those partners are doing.
So we were helping them understand the different types, and how each partner makes money. And to create a very specific value proposition, i.e. if you’re a partner and you do these things in this time frame, you will get X returns. And really to create that ROI for the partners. And that has grown their partner ecosystem fourfold in six months, just because they’ve got that really strong story to tell.
Tell us about your recent study, “The Six Pillars of Partner Experience”.
We produce three research reports a year. We’re part of the education reform – we believe this is part of the growth of the ecosystem. And the last one we did is, as you mentioned, “The Six Pillars of Partner Experience,” which we look at from two aspects. We look at it from the partner’s aspects. We had 200 solution providers respond to this. And the question was what affects their experience with a vendor most? What contributes to a good or a bad experience with a vendor? Because our perspective on this is that the better the experience that the solution provider has with the vendor, the more engaged they’ll be. And the more engaged they are, the more they sell. And that’s why we’re all here. We’re trying to grow those channel sales. But as we’re experience economy these days, we all vote with our feet in terms of what experience we want; an experience value trade-off. We select our movie theaters that way. We select our cars that way. Or restaurants in terms of the experience that they give you. So we’re really looking at how does the experience…how is that affected by decisions that the vendors make around people, and programs, and their channel model, and how they measure partner performance, and the systems.
We were surprised that systems, partner portals, was ranked number third out of the six pillars that really affect experience. 90% of solution providers said they prefer to work through the portals and the systems if they’re good systems. If they can get what they need online, that’s the preferred method of engagement. To be able to go on and search, as we did when we bought a new car, in terms of finding information and data, and the tools that they need to be able to go sell and deploy the product. So that was the one that we did at the beginning of this year. It’s the 2017 data partnering study.
Do you have a piece of advice that you can offer to leaders in partner marketing?
There are three things that partners care about. One is that the product does what is advertised. So, as a partner marketing person, be honest with your partners. If it doesn’t spin blue sideways, don’t tell them it spins blue sideways, right? Let’s be very specific about what the product does and what it doesn’t do.
Number two, the partners need to have a way to make money with your stuff. Even if it’s their own services, and I know with partner marketing that’s a hard thing. It’s like, well, we don’t set the price with the partner can buy, or how they make money. But you can position it. You can create that value proposition and say, “Here’s where else you make money.” Even if they only make a couple of dollars on a license as a staff solution as a mock. That’s not going to be interesting to them. But you can also say, “Here’s the services that wrap around our product, and here’s the consulting you might need to do as a solution provider,” or, “Here’s the analytics that you can do in terms of driving and providing data back to your customers.” So always looking for how does your partner make money on your products because even if it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread, if they can’t make money on it, they’re not going to sell it.
The third thing that partners care about is what we call ease of doing business. Or getting the product, or getting contact. And that really comes down to that experience. How can you streamline the processes and the kerfuffle that a partner has to go through to be able to place an order, or get a customer up and running on your product. Because again, if it does what is advertised and they can make money on it, but they can’t get it, then they’re still not going to go work on that.
Those are three things that when you’re looking at how do you make your partner program better, or accelerate your partner sales, were usually tied into one or all three of those. Is the message clear? Are they making money on it? And how do we remove kind of those costs of doing business with you?
To learn more about partner profitability, structuring a channel program, three things that partners care about and more tune in to episode 41 of The Allbound Podcast.
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About Our Podcast
Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes. Also available through Google Play. The Allbound Podcast explores the evolving fundamentals of partner-based selling in the SaaS and subscription economy. Featuring some of the industry’s brightest minds in channel sales and marketing, episodes of The Allbound Podcast delve into how and why indirect sales and marketing has long been, and continues to be, a proven medium for accelerating growth and success. And how traditional “channel” models are being transformed into efficient, connected ecosystems to supercharge sales and drive customer success while keeping costs low. Subscribe on iTunes