The title of this blog is a statement that I firmly believe should be at the center of any Channel Partner Program. I hear from business leaders in MSPs/MSSPs and IT Service Providers all the time that their Vendor Partners just seem like they’re in it for themselves. And we think that’s the exact opposite of what it should be. Sadly, you’ve probably experienced some of what I’m talking about….
You’ve identified a requirement in your business for the product or service of XYZ Ltd. They may have approached you, or vice versa. So you agree to meet. What happens next? Well, 9 times out of 10, they proceed to waffle on about how great they are, their fantastic product or service, their Net-promoter score, whatever. If you’re really (un)lucky there’ll be a PowerPoint presentation. They’ll tell you about their combined 150 years of experience in the industry and show you a picture of their Corporate HQ. What they fail to realize is that nobody actually cares.
It’s not off to a great start but nevertheless, you sign up to be a Partner because you know that there is a requirement for their particular product or service.
Then comes the best bit…
The Spanish Inquisition
A lot of Vendor/ Partner relationships end up looking a bit like the famous Monty Python sketch…
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
Chief amongst their weapons are:
Product Training, disguised as Sales Training
Slide Decks from Hell
Minimal to Non-existent Account Management
And an almost fanatical devotion to talking about themselves
At first it's all hunky-dory, but then they commit possibly the worst crime in the Channel/ Partnership world! That’s right. Product Training! The crime is that it’s disguised as Sales Training.
Picture the scene if you will. You’ve gathered your sales team into the conference room, everyone’s keen to learn how XYZ is going to work with you and help deliver real business outcomes for your customers. The XYZ Partner Team arrives and they’ve brought doughnuts and swag. Pleasantries are exchanged, the big TV flickers into life, HDMI 2 is selected, and BAM!! Powerpoint is launched. Dave, your Sales Director, has a look of concern, he’s just noticed that there are 76 slides in the presentation.
What typically follows is a Tsunami of features, advantages, and benefits of every single product and service in XYZ’s extensive portfolio. What does this do for your sales team? Yes, it arms them with the information to talk to IT and Infrastructure folk - who can’t make a decision - about features, advantages, and benefits. You might as well talk to the cleaner! Finally, after 4 hours, they leave you with their PDF brochures.
After you’ve ensured that, then comes the great disappearing act. The XYZ Partner Account Manager goes into hiding or possibly hibernation, who knows for sure. The end of your 1st quarter approaches and then, even though you weren’t expecting it, they appear like the Spanish Inquisition. What do they want? They want to know what deals you’re likely to close this quarter, how are you going to help them meet their target?
Sound familiar? It really shouldn’t be this way.
The problem with the above scenario is that XYZ Ltd. failed to understand a fundamental fact in business. “People buy for their reasons, not yours!” They didn’t realize that it’s not about them, despite how great their product or service is.
A well-structured Partner Program has you, the Partner, firmly at its center! The Vendor understands that it’s their job to set you up to succeed.
A chess grandmaster will tell you that the opening first moves of the game will determine its outcome. Successful Channel Partnerships are the same. What we do together in the first 90 days will determine the lifetime success of the partnership, because if it doesn’t get off to a flying start it will stumble and stall. Why? Unless we get our Partners to make money with our services quickly, they will naturally lose interest and go silent.
A Partner-Centric Approach
What does partner-centric mean? A partner-centric channel approach understands how our partners’ customers buy, creating services that support that goal – the correct customer purchase.
A partner-centric attitude means doing everything within our power to enable you to quickly obtain your first order (with our services) and to consistently build predictable, scalable revenue and commission streams. A partner-centric channel rewards partners for their contribution to the growth of our business. A partner-centric approach respects our partners as equals and understands that they are part of our extended team.
In a partnership of equals, everyone takes care of everyone else and makes sure that every party gets all needs met throughout the process. With this in mind, we constantly ask ourselves the following two questions:
What's in it for our partners?
What are we doing to make sure they want to sell our services?
If this sounds like an approach that could work for you, then perhaps it makes sense to talk to us at The Cybermaniacs. We’re building an A-Team Partner Ecosystem! If you haven't felt that fuzzy feeling from other awareness providers, or are looking to offer engaging alternatives to your customer base, come on in.