Today’s Partner Programs look drastically different than their predecessors. It used to be that Vendors dictated Channel partnerships and most elements of the Partner Program. The pendulum has now swung to the other side thanks to an abundance of new technologies and information. Partners today have more Vendor options than ever before, which means Vendors need to be more mindful of Partners’ business objectives if they want successful partnerships. Now, they have to craft their Partner Program around a value proposition, one that entices Partners in today’s changing market and aligns with their Partners’ goals.
Recommendations for developing Partner Programs and value propositions that align with Partners to drive demand:
1. Understand your Partners’ changing business models
Today’s MSPs look nothing like the VARs of yore – or even the MSPs of just a few years ago. The emergence of cloud moved many Partners from a transactional to a recurring revenue model. As these Partners are born in or transition to the cloud, they look for Partner Programs that support their business structure. Understanding your Partners go-to-market strategy, how they sell, and the way they run their business is crucial to ensuring your Partner Program meets their needs.
2. Rethink your education and training
Cloud isn’t the only technology disrupting the Channel. The way Partners want and expect training has changed, too. In the past, Vendors provided some on-site engineering or technical training, threw in a benefit or two to sweeten the pot, and called it a day. This type of training often required Partners to be out of the office for a day or two at a time and there wasn’t much Partner pushback because no other options existed.
Today, this model doesn’t float. We live in the information age and Partners are used to getting the information they need, when they need it, in a digestible and convenient format. Not to mention they want more than technical and engineering support. If your Partner Program doesn’t provide on-demand support for everything from marketing to sales to product training, Partners will find one that does.
3. You have to collaborate on Partner demand generation
Partners want to be (mostly) self-sufficient with their education; they also want to generate their own leads. Gone are the days where Vendors could hand a list of leads to Partners because they fit the “right” vertical market or geo. Partners today have their own brand, target audiences, and look to Vendors to work with them. This new model has Partners finding their own leads, but then relying on Vendors for as-needed back-end support, like answering product questions, making joint sales calls, helping on a quote and of course providing lead generation resources.
4. It’s time to loosen up your Partner Program
Partner Programs used to be strict and defined. Now, we see successful Vendors build flexibility into their programs. Take Marketing Development Funds (MDF) for example. Once used strictly for approved marketing activity, these funds have morphed into Business Development Funds (BDF). BDF helps Partners do what they need to sell more products or services. It’s a valuable resource for Partners who require help outside of marketing as it’s more customized to their specific needs. Maybe it’s marketing, maybe it’s paying for additional training outside of the Vendor certifications. Without this type of flexibility built in, you risk Partners quickly outgrowing your Partner Program.
By taking these steps to prove your value proposition, you’ll stay top of mind and realize mutual success in your Channel.
Want to learn more about how you can update your Partner Program to keep up with the shifting Channel and drive more demand? Check out these blogs:
CMCtv Episode 3: Implement a Successful Partner Program
How to Use Channel Programs to Better Enable Partners