How to be Channel Calm...

28.01.22 04:17 PM By Jacqui

The Partner Experience and bridging the gap between departments

Looking at the practical ways to structure your channel in 2022 you need to drive towards automation which brings efficiencies across teams. Here we look at the internal infrastructures to support a channel centric business model and how to become “Channel-calm.”


Ownership of the Partner Experience - One team needs to be awarded ownership of the PX (partner experience) to ensure it excels. And I say awarded because it is both an honour and a responsibility.

 

With each partner typically invested in >20 vendors they need to have simple effective tools to be able to work with you more easily. If a partner can’t find what they are looking for the first time, this is a barrier to efficiency which is hard to overcome. But PX goes beyond just the tools, it encompasses all programs and processes that partners encounter when doing business with you.

 

This begs the bigger questions of where “Channel” sits; within sales or within marketing or as its own stand-alone C-level unit? There are definitive roles that are Channel Sales and those that are Channel Marketing, but the programmatic element and tools, could equally be “Operations” and this sometimes results in ineffective dotted line reports and silos.

Accountable  

Personally, I believe that the Channel team needs ownership of the PX and the associated tools (with support from IT to ensure integration), where also the PX includes the programs and processes and how you sell and market to and with partners.

 

Consequently, if you are a channel centric business “Channel” is at the heart of everything you do and so it is not only a C-level unit, but CMO and CRO relinquish some control and responsibility to Channel Chief.

 

At a practical level, teams working in silos can damage the PX. For instance, a CMO might evaluate and decide on the best TCMA (through channel marketing automation) platform, but if this can’t integrate to and share the same PX and experience as the portal or PRM there is disconnect.

 

I am not necessarily advocating a ubiquitous platform that covers all solution requirements with the same interface or point solutions for each separate requirement. Every vendor is different and so too are their requirements and the solution that is right for them. But in today’s integrated yet busy world, having disparate systems that don’t “play nice and share” is simply not viable.

 

Many best-of-breed solutions work well together and can be the right path for some vendors, but the PX is at the core of all solution decisions and therefore someone needs to take ownership of that and work with sales and marketing teams to ensure their needs are also met.

 

Data and Automation

 

Some vendors become stuck in the rails and myopic, looking at performance and revenue and judging partners effectiveness on revenue alone. Whereas the reality is that a partner may influence deals and not transact, or they may be part of the service offering and not the licence. But systems don’t always reflect that value.

 

Partner value needs to include factors and data that may be more difficult to track and evaluate but it is important to include to ensure you are matching that value with the benefits you afford them in your program.

 

Partner data needs to include profile information, transactional data as well as unstructured data to create more meaningful insight. This is no task for a basic CRM. Especially as we also expect that both internal teams and partners can see the results of this data in impactful dashboards.

 

Vendors rarely start with a blank page to envisage the perfect solution. There may be a home-grown portal and some legacy systems that just “work” and so there is a reluctance to rock the boat and “rip and replace”. And in my experience, in emerging tech companies the CEO was instrumental in building the systems.

 Broom sweeping leaves

It’s a tough decision and a bold move, but you genuinely need to ditch the old and adopt and embrace the new innovations in market today. Tech businesses need to focus on selling their solutions and not building their own internal systems.

 

So, if it’s a new platform solution or best-of-breed point solutions, a new broom is required.

 

Take a fresh look at what is needed across the business for partners, and the teams that work with them, and check out the shiny new solutions in market today. What harm can there be to check out the art-of-the-possible and see demonstrations of the best and the brightest of new solutions. Plan a series of evaluations in Q1 to see if you are missing out and importantly, what your partners are experiencing working with other vendors. Then set in motion the changes needed so that your teams can excel in 2022 with a consistent PX that flows through all the processes and touch points for partners.