Building and selling on value has proved a challenge for many resellers. With technology evolving rapidly in the regional channel, the importance of partner programmes, and why it’s critical for solution providers to select programmes that help them to propel their businesses to profitability has become so critical.
Most major IT multinationals have partner programmes, but numerous smaller vendors also operate such programmes, since channel partners give them more feet on the street.
Typical features of partner programmes include product and sales training, access to vendor technical support, lead generation tools and access to beta versions of vendor products. Other programme incentives can include awards and industry recognition at vendor events and rewards to channel partner sales staff.
Channel partners may view these programmes favourably, yet find some elements frustrating at times. For example, deal registration, a common part of many partner programmes, may prove challenging for partners to administer. Deal registration helps partners protect their investment in sales opportunities, but the systems that manage deal registration may offer limited visibility into deal status.
To overcome this challenge, vendors, however, may deploy partner relationship management (PRM) systems, a channel-oriented take on customer relationship management, to improve their interaction with channel companies.
Hany Maurice, regional channel and alliance leader, Eaton Middle East, said the three most important aspects that make a good channel channel programme are ease of use, profitability for partners and ease of access. “It is also important that we look at the integration of promotions around other alliances to build strong and cohesive programmes for all partners,” Maurice said.
He said it’s also an excellent opportunity for Eaton to reward and recognise the hard work of partners and their on-going loyalty and commitment. “We ensure that registration to the programme is made as simple as possible and that there are easy ways to achieve levels of success,” he said.
Rui Silva, channel manager, Middle East, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, concurred and said a great channel partner programme is one that is easy to join and should resonate with the partner’s business needs. Silva added the programme should have a minimal cost for partners to join making it more attractive to them.
He added that for tier two partners, on boarding is an electronic process in order to reduce inefficiencies and complexities created by a paper process. “We design a tailored programme where partners select the technology and products they wish to be trained on ensuring they get the most of the programme,” he said. “We co-invest in training to encourage partner recruitment and have introduced specialisation rebate for new customers.”
Bhashar Peruri, regional sales manager, Middle East at Silver Peak, said a good channel programme is where you can differentiate channel partners based on their skills, value add, resources and revenue. “Vendors needs to show their support to channels partners who are dedicated to the solution/product and invest in resources to generate large revenues,” he said.
With the transitions happening in the IT market, it’s vital that vendors and distributors continue to evolve their programmes in line with the changes.
At Eaton, Maurice agreed and said transformation is happening constantly in the IT market and for the company, the most prominent transitions can be seen in the movement from stand-alone data centre solutions to multi-dimensional solutions, including virtualisation and cloud.