Guest Blog by Diane Krakora, CEO of PartnerPath
There are two reasons we have conducted the State of Partnering study for the last 11 years. For one, I’m a data girl. I love collecting and analyzing data, discovering trends and developing insights. Second, our mission at PartnerPath is to help perfect partnering. We believe investing in the survey, data collection and subsequent analysis represented in our annual State of Partnering is important to advancing the development of channel programs. To prepare your channel for success, you need to know industry trends, challenges, best practices and innovative ideas. That is the intent of this year’s report: The 6 Pillars of Partner Experience.
We surveyed 134 vendors and 213 solution providers on the pillars that support an excellent partner experience. Partner experience drives partner engagement. The better the experience, the better the engagement. And partner engagement drives sales, market reach and customer satisfaction. You need to give your partners the best possible experience with your company and secure your position as a primary vendor, their preferred vendor.
Customers are demanding full solutions comprised of several vendor products and services, which actually increases the vendors’ reliance on partners. Since partners are the ones putting together software, hardware and services to create customer solutions, they have the primary relationship with customers. They can pick and choose among vendors to create the best solution now that customers are buying the solution and not the product.
This shift of power to the partner, changing roles of partners and the partners’ focus on their profitability per vendor line have something in common – they’re initiated at the partner-end of the spectrum. What partners do for you, how they control the customer relationship and whether they select your program are key reasons why providing an excellent partner experience is more important than ever.
The six factors of partner experience: channel model, program policies, partner enablement, people, infrastructure and performance metrics, encompass all aspects of a how a partner will interact with you and your program. We asked solution provider respondents to rank the six areas on the extent to which they affect their experience with vendors and the results were enlightening.
You should read the full report on the six pillars and how you can affect the partners’ experience and engagement. But if 38 pages is too daunting without an international flight in your future, here are three key take aways:
- We’ve all heard and said that our best assets are our people. The solution provider respondents adamantly agreed with this assertion ranking People as the most important element in their overall experience with a vendor. Within this category they prioritized access to the support teams well ahead of what is typically considered their main connection point – partner account management resources.
- How you enable partners has a huge effect on their experience with you, their engagement in selling your solutions and their (and your) success. The three top-rated elements in the enablement pillar help partners deliver services. And by a wide margin, post-sales services enablement outranks everything else in this pillar.
- ‘Vendor failed to deliver on promises’ was knocked from its five-year reign as the number one reason partners have for regretting joining a vendor’s channel program. (Inadequate sales support eked into the top spot this year). Coming in second, there is no excuse for this being anywhere near the top of the list. And yet, for over 11 years, we see it consistently in the top three. The problem boils down to the simple act of communicating expectations and commitments with partners – followed by doing what you say you’re going to do.
This year and beyond, think about the importance of partner experience. Think about the pillars that support that experience and how each one is important to your partners. As with managing your customer experience, managing your partner experience improves your partner satisfaction, reduces partner churn, increases revenue and sales and creates a competitive advantage.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diane Krakora, CEO of PartnerPath
Diane Krakora spent years witnessing how channels and alliances could be strategic to a company’s successful and scalable growth. She realized that, to be harnessed correctly, partnerships needed representation in the c-suite. So in 1998, she founded a channel consulting company called Amazon Consulting (back in 1998 that name had little competition). Diane’s goal was to elevate the impact of partnering within organizations. Her vision was that every company would have a Chief Channel Officer, an executive to watch over the health and well-being of partnerships. She knew channel-centric companies would reap the benefits of increased reach, sales leverage, scalability and customer delight.