Lara O’Brien Williams, Senior Director of Worldwide Partnerships at Cumulus Networks, tells us how vendors should think about their partners’ needs and ensure they are happy.
As we start the new year, with renewed budgets and projects to look forward to, we mustn’t forget our partners. Just as we will be planning for the next 12 months, they will be planning too – reviewing if they want to stay on or move to a new partnership.
That’s why before the new decade approaches, we need to think about our partners’ needs and how to ensure they are happy.
We also need to look at the changing world of channel partners in an age of Digital Transformation to ensure every notch in the chain is as strong as it could be.
Speaking the right language
For starters you need to have partners that can speak your language – otherwise, how are you going to get buy-in for your product? They need to have the same goals, culture and outlook as you. You want them to be able to sing your praises and understand your to-market products better than you do. After all, they are going to be your spokespeople on the ground. But more than that, they need to be able to bring new skill sets to the table. They should build on your strengths but help to lessen your weaknesses. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
But we also need to understand that this is a give and take relationship. The vendor needs to be able to bring innovation to the partners, too; this needs to be a harmonious exercise between both of you.
At the end of the day, there are three main reasons why partners will enter into a programme with you:
• Good product
• Easy to do business with
• Understanding of how they can make money
For example, you could offer partners a generous discounting structure, a simple deal registration programme and a collaborative sales and support model that rewards the company’s channel partners and helps them build a long-lasting practice for the next era in networking.
Looking to the road ahead
You need to build a strong programme to establish where you are going in the long term. What direction the company wants to take? Where is the industry going? What are the gaps? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself now ahead of the new year.
To plan ahead you need to first understand where you are now. Start this process by thinking about where your company is today on its journey with partners. You need to take stock of where you are; what has worked and what hasn’t and how you can improve on that. This is essential if you are going to not only revamp your programme, but even if you just want to carry on as business as usual.
The next step is to look at where your company wants to be in the next two to three years and what the partner programme needs to do in order to make that happen. This is because any planning – and the programme as a whole – isn’t a short-term thing.
When it comes to an effective and efficient channel programme you need to understand what you can offer your partners, as well as take stock of what has worked in the past and what changes you are going to make for the next year.
Creating a global channel programme is no easy feat, but it’s massively rewarding when it works. Just with any other aspect of business, make sure you have things in place to continuously monitor and improve upon the programme. And with this in mind you can ensure your 2020 channel programme runs smoothly.