Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I have the perfect software solution why won't partners sell?

Ok I can't tell you how many times I've heard both sides of this discussion. "I have a great product why won't any of our partners sell?" or "We keep getting badgered by this new partner to sell their software, but my sales reps just don't care". I really don't care what the preceive reason is, or what the concocted excuse is for not selling, it ultimately comes down to one single issue; the vendor has not set the table for their partner community in a manner such that any partner or reseller will have an understanding as to why and how they should sell the particular product or solution within their business practice or solutions.

Let's be honest, if I'm a partner or reseller, I have almost an infinite number of products or solutions I can sell. If I'm smart and I have laid out a business plan that outlines my core deliverables and/or solutions, then I'm only going to sell those products that fit well into this business practice. Quite often this selling decision is driven by two key components, the level of training and certification that is provide, and the investment that the vendor is willing to make in marketing with and through the partner. Yes marketing investment, it has not and will not be going away anytime soon. The larger the reseller and vendor relationship, the more significant is the required level of marketing investment. With smaller resellers and smaller vendors the greater the sales training and technical certification that is required. The key word in all of this is “Partner”, unless both the vendor and the partner can find a good working and communication point then nothing and I do mean nothing will move forward.

Development of a channel or alliance partner program is an evolutionary process that is driven through communication and proactive sales & marketing efforts from the vendor. The ultimate goal is to create a program that will allow a reseller or partner to be self-motivated in their desire and efforts to sell the vendors offering, which delivers significant scale to the vendors business. However, to reach a certain level of independence the vendor must provide the groundwork; training, marketing tools and campaigns and lead generation, which will help the channel and alliance community to mature.

So what does all this pandering have to do with growing business through multi-dimensional channels? The reason, vendors utilize the channel is to gain market penetration scale, and the reason resellers align with specific partners is that they have an open communication line, a structured partnering program and a sales & marketing program that helps the reseller or alliance partner sell. Vendors must understand their end-user market, and must know the resellers and partners that will provide them access to this market. More importantly the vendor must have a program in place that will help to drive business through this partner community. Vendors must know where their product fits in the partner delivery ecosystem and how the competition is perceived in this community. Most importantly, make sure that marketing and lead generation is designed to drive business to and through the partner community in a manner that will ensure scale and remarkable growth.

Always remember that when you commit to growing your business through the Channel Reseller Performance begets Vendor Success. Design a program for your partners to thrive with your products and solutions, and your company will be rewarded with exponential growth. As reseller or alliance partner I want a vendor that I know will work with me and help me to design an offering that will deliver incremental revenue to my business.