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Channel Matters Blog > February 2014 > What Do Channel Partners Really Want?

What Do Channel Partners Really Want?

by Rich Blakeman
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When I ask any group of Channel Account Managers (CAMs) what their partners want, most of them immediately respond with “Leads!” The next most common responses are funding, usually in the form of MDF or Market Development Funds, and higher margins.



Leads, MDF and higher margins are all examples of short-term value to a channel partner, and they present three primary challenges.
  • While short-term value can lead to short-term success, it generally doesn’t drive lasting performance.
  • Providing short-term value to a channel partner doesn’t incent them to make their own investments in the business.
  • These investments in the channel partner can be expensive ones for the vendor to make.
 
To get past the clamor for short-term value, it helps to examine the three types of value channel partners recognize.
 
Short term – As we’ve already discussed, these are the immediate benefits that most partners say they want from their vendor. You can only provide so much short-term value before it starts to take a toll on your cost structure.
 
Mid term – Providing mid-term value sets the channel partner up for sustained performance. The CAM may provide this level of value by helping the partner shore up areas of weakness such as marketing strategy, customer-service skills or sales techniques. The goal of providing mid-term value is to help the partner become a self-sufficient achiever.
 
Long term – Long-term value takes into account the partner’s long-term objectives. Where do they see their business going? Do they want to expand the number of locations or markets they serve? Do they want to set up a steady stream of annuity revenue? Or, are they looking to sell within the next five years and move to Belize?
 
As is most evident in the long-term value example, different roles within the partner organization will have a different value focus. Frontline salespeople tend to be focused on short-term objectives and will, therefore, place the most value on short-term assistance like leads. Management within the channel organization is usually looking for ways to drive sustained performance, so they will place the most emphasis on mid-term objectives and value. And, of course, it’s the owners of the business who will be shopping for beachfront property.
 
When your CAMs talk about the demands from partners and mention only short-term value, it’s a sure sign that they aren’t thinking about the partnership strategically and aren’t spending enough time with partner executives and others who are responsible for long-term success.
 
Your enablement programs must equip CAMs to have a business discussion around value for each contact within the channel partner’s organization. They need to be able to speak to the CFO as easily as they speak to the frontline sales professional. This helps them build credibility at all levels of the organization and earns the CAM the right to ask the channel partner to make specific investments in the business and the partnership.
 
Have an idea or a question on the topic of adding value for channel Partners? Reach out to me at rich.blakeman@channelenablers.com, or add your thoughts below.
 
 
 
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