The Changing Partner Channel and What You Can Do About It

By Trisha Winter

The partner channel is changing. And while there is a lot of buzz around the how and why, there isn’t much content on what to do about it. First, let me break down what is happening . . .

  • The buyer is now a buying unitSiriusDecisions recently revamped its marketing pipeline to be account-based instead of lead-based. Fundamentally, more purchases are happening with cross-departmental buying units versus an IT buyer (who traditional resellers have relationships with).
  • Vendors are embracing subscription models The subscription economy removes the effectiveness of resellers. The direct relationship between the customer and the SaaS provider is extremely important for delivering success services and simply easier contractually on the customer than going through a reseller.
  • The VAR system is broken – Possibly my favorite article of the bunch, due to the fabulously sarcastic (yet painfully true) flow chart of how the reseller deal process works (or better yet doesn’t work) was written by Andrew Plato called Goodbye Yellow Brick VAR.
  • Competitors are taking business away from resellers – Due to many of the above factors, Forrester analyst Jay McBain, refers to The Rise of Shadow Channels which are much better suited to drive business than traditional resellers.

So what can you do about the changing partner channel?

If you are a Channel Chief facing decreasing revenue from your network of resellers, you are likely having trouble sleeping and perhaps are suffering mild panic attacks as you contemplate how to stop your reseller Titanic from sinking. Take a deep breath and let’s consider some life raft tactics that can turn your partner channel program around.

Step 1: Evaluate your partners

Determine which partners can make the transition to the subscription economy and the disparate buying unit. The “younger” resellers may be more able and willing to transition. Once you’ve identified those with potential, meet with them and discuss a program and incentive model that will meet their needs so there is a win-win. Larry Walsh of 2112 Group advises vendors to take an Outside-in approach to channel programs – basically, design programs for what your partners need, not what you as the vendor need.

Step 2: Don’t fire the rest of your partners

Instead of firing the rest of your partners, consider whether or not your remaining resellers have access to target buying personas in your target accounts. If so, it may make sense to transition these resellers into referral partners. They can continue to make money, but not have to deal with the complexity of the sale. Plus, your direct sales team will love these warm introductions to fill up their pipeline.

Step 3: Onboard potential resellers differently

Assuming some resellers can transition to be successful in this new model, you will likely see a different breed of resellers emerge. But instead of trying to push them into your traditional certification program, first start out light. Onboard them as referral partners to start (like TBI is doing) – this proves they have access to your target buyers and influence to see a deal close. Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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