A few years back, CRN ran a couple of posts about the increasingly important role deal registration has taken on in the channel and how, in the authors’ opinions, that evolution led to abuse across the partner community.
Among other things, the articles alleged that some partners were registering the same deal with competing vendors—even though most vendors have rules in place to prevent such unscrupulous behavior.
If the general sentiment the authors put out were true, we’d expect to see a drop in both approval rates for deals submitted and/or close rates for registered deals. And we haven’t.
After those articles appeared, Sophos’s James Vyvyan swiftly rebutted the general sentiment: “The idea behind deal registration is to provide an early identification of an opportunity … not to flag up that you have a deal just about to close.”
We agree with Vyvyan’s logic. Partners aren’t submitting too many deals—quite the contrary. In our experience, as many as 40 percent of qualifying deals don’t end up getting registered in the first place.
Why is that?
Deal Registration: What’s Broken
At Vartopia, we believe that partners and vendors both get more value out of the channel when qualifying deals are registered sooner. We don’t see any benefit in registering bogus opportunities or protecting nonexistent relationships.
So what’s wrong with deal registration today?
In short, it’s a matter of time and resources.
In our judgment, what’s broken in deal registration is that the process has become too burdensome for many partners. They need to manage so many different partner programs—and jump between a ton of independent portals to make it all work.
One critic suggests that the landscape favors larger partners due to their abilities to register many more deals than smaller firms because they have “teams of people who register deals—that’s all they do.” If that’s the case, perhaps the issue is more about resources and tools than questionable business practices.
Although not every company has the same resources, we believe that tools can help level the playing field for partners of all sizes, enabling them to take advantage of deal registration whenever there’s a viable opportunity.
How Vendors Can Improve Deal Registration
If you’re a vendor with deals registered early in the selling cycle, you can support the selling process with just-in-time sales tools, collateral, and technical support to help close the deal. If higher visibility, improved marketing effectiveness, and increased close rates can be achieved via deal registration, what can you do to encourage more deals to get registered sooner?
It starts with encouraging every partner to operationalize the process and getting upper management to commit to ensuring all qualifying deals get registered. This can help ensure that partners get all of the benefits they’ve earned from their efforts.
Many vendors provide a discount to get early pipeline visibility in exchange for incremental profitability. In turn, this enables partners to protect and offset the investments required to nurture and develop opportunities—which seems like an effective means to level the playing field.
This is a great first step, but building a repeatable process that allows you to do the right thing the right way every time is the better approach. To do this, vendors must:
1. Make it easy for partners to submit a request.
Beyond giving partners an easy request process, you also need to ensure that submissions are acted upon quickly. You also need to make sure that your program’s rules are enforced consistently—which you can do by reporting on program rules regularly and transparently.
2. Give partners the tools they need to manage deal registration from their end so that they can identify and quickly resolve any bottlenecks.
A partner portal, for example, might provide partners with a place to submit deal registrations. But without tools to track approval status and monitor deals through each state of the pipeline, they can’t see any progress. Giving partners tools that enable them to actively manage deals within their selling process while they’re in development helps them operationalize deal registration into their everyday workflows.
Because we want to make partners’ lives easier, we created EZ Update, a feature that enables partners and partners to engage in deals and provide real-time updates from anywhere at any time—without ever having to log in to a portal.
3. Be transparent and responsive.
The pros and cons of approving deals on a first-come, first-served basis versus a value-added approach can and should be argued; there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. What shouldn’t be argued is the need for vendor transparency, communication, and responsiveness. It should be every vendor’s goal to empower partners to manage the process effectively—and then work toward encouraging their teams to adopt and utilize your partner program’s sales tools.
Deal Registration: The Beginning—Not the End
As Vyvyan reminds us in his article, “It’s a partnership.” As such, both vendors and partners have a responsibility to ensure their mutual success.
Remember, registration is not the end of the process—it’s just the beginning.
By optimizing the deal registration process, encouraging your partners to operationalize their processes, and empowering partners with the tools they need to move deals along as quickly as possible, you can build a much more effective channel program to the benefit of all your partners.
And that’s the ticket to happier channel managers, more engaged partners, and a healthier bottom line.
To learn more about how you can build more efficiency into deal registration, check out our free e-book: Deal Registration Best Practices for Technology Vendors.