Channel Champion Blog

Businessman cloudsI attended the Channel Visionaries Cloud Conference is San Francisco this week. Lots of great speakers and content that covered a wide breath of cloud issues. There was volumes on the buyer’s journey, the value of digital marketing and how to build and implement processes that allow vendors to help their partners catch up to the expectations of today’s buyer’s.

There was a general consensus that partners, cloud partners in particular, will ultimately fail if they do not embrace digital marketing. Most importantly, partners need to make it on to the buyer’s refined “short list” – the list that buyers create from their ever expanding pre-partner contact research.

Use incentives to positively influence partner behavior once they make the buyer's short list. Click To Tweet

While there was a strong focus on demand generation and making the “short list,” there was not as much discussion around how to positively influence partner behavior once they make the short list. With the criticality of the sales process with the new buyer (affirmation vs. information), the key stage for long-term success will be set in the following three areas.

  1. First Contact – buyers will never forget their first impression in terms of both time and value presented. Your mother was right when she said you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

  2. Sales Process – make it transparent and painless. Build on or at least keep the good vibe – it’s a classic. Three things can happen: Good, Neutral, or Bad – we want to stay in the good section and keep the momentum.

  3. Implementation Process/Project Roll Out (the final hurdle) – the last, but most important, touch. All of the good you have done up this point will be accelerated or left to die. Rarely have I seen a neutral implementation.

While these are obviously not the only places to look for behavior modification, these touch points will set the tone for not only long-term perception of the partner by the buyer, but will dictate the success of the partner’s retention and upsell capabilities. It will either be an incredibly difficult uphill battle of overcoming a negative impression with virtually no trust, or it will be a launching point for successful renewals and upselling in a “walled garden.” This is truly a key area to use a points-based incentive program to modify behavior – there really is no better group of targets to get ROI out of your incentive investment.



Steven Kellam, SVP of Sales and Marketing at CCI

Steven Kellam PictureAs a growth specialist, Steven is responsible for CCI’s sales and marketing strategy and vision for today’s goals and objectives as well as positioning the organization for continued, long-term success. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a successful managed services IT business, and  a background in manufacturing where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.