Do I have the right partners in my channel ecosystem?

Our previous blog titled “Five Questions every Channel Chief should ask him/herself started off with the title to this subsequent blog as the first question. It’s a good starting point considering that – if you don’t get the answer to this question right – you are going miss your revenue targets and end up with a negative ROCI (Return on Channel Investment).

I know its lame to answer a question with a question but I am going to do it anyway (actually its two questions):

  • Do you know how and where your end user customers research and purchase your solution?
  • Which market segments have you identified as an incremental revenue opportunity but are unable to penetrate with your own direct sales force?

The answers to these questions will point you towards identifying the proper routes to market and defining the partner profile that is likely to comprise the most successful partners.

End User Customers have taken control of the buy cycle and have often conducted extensive on line research and made a preliminary buying decision before contacting a vendor. This also means that they often purchase through multiple channels. Multiple consultants, solution providers and resellers may be involved in the buying process. Vendors must identify these multiple channels and their roles in the purchasing cycle before they can begin the process of partner profiling and segmentation and the development of the right channel strategy.

Understanding your Routes to Market (RTM) is the first step in the profiling process.

rtm

Once the proper channels of distribution have been identified, you can score potential partners based upon specific attributes and capabilities to enhance your ability to recruit the best partners.

A common best practice for profiling and scoring potential partners will ensure a faster “ramp up” to full potential and increased revenues for new partners.

A best practice Partner Profile is based upon an objective and uniform points based methodology.

Each attribute category that comprises the partner profile has sub category attributes that comprise the total for each attribute category. Values are assigned in descending order of priority and on the basis of the capabilities the vendor believes are essential for a reseller to be successful in the program.

Main attributes are defined and percentages for each attribute category assigned with input from channel management, including:

  • Market specializations and certifications
  • Sales and marketing capabilities and resources
  • Attributes signifying the capability to penetrate new markets and acquire new customers
  • Vendors and product lines sold and supported

Sub categories within each attribute category define the quantitative measurement for each attribute such as revenue size, share of market, level of certification, etc. Values are assigned to sub category attributes based upon relative importance of each attribute.

In conclusion, consider these partner profiling best practices for partner recruitment:

  • Establish agreed upon profiling criterion and desired partner attributes to value and score partners and partner prospects based upon their value contribution
  • Develop a value scoring methodology that can be applied to partner segmentation and tiering
  • Align partner profiling and scoring on a global scale
  • “Test” the profiling methodology against current partners and prospects to validate the model and fine-tune
  • Train PAMs in the partner profiling methodology and process
  • Capture partner profiling attributes for current partners and prospects in a common data base (integrated with PRM/CRM)