You have raised a Series A, B, C, D. Your boss has asked you to launch the companies first, organized and structured partner program and the first thing you do is think to yourself “I need to put together an RFP to find vendors who can meet my criteria.”
If this is how your partner program was originally built, the answer to the question posed as a topic for this blog is inevitably “yes”.
A well-structured partner program is flexible, drives towards making the desired partner behavior as frictionless as possible, and can easily report on what is working, or not, as it pertains to money spent in the channel.
Let’s dive into a few warning signs you should be on the lookout for to help you understand if you are over-complexifying things for yourself, and your partners.
1. The 80/20 rule is starting to look like the 98/2 rule
80% of your company’s channel revenue is coming from 20% of your partners. This saying is probably more pervasive in the channel than in any other business unit within your organization. The data actually points to something closer to the 95/5 rule, with 95% of your channel revenue coming from a handful of sales reps at that 5% of partners.
A tell-tale sign of a partner program that creates barriers, as opposed to removing them is low partner engagement or activation. The data points are almost always obvious. Partner signs up, partner logs in, the partner may take training or two, and then…. crickets. Why is that? It is because the partner sales rep probably got an email, letting them know about your organization’s newly built partnership with a link to your portal. They signed in and immediately realized that nothing in the portal was designed to help them understand why or how it could impact them personally.
Want to break the 80/20 rule forever, start making it easy for everyone to answer the question “what is in it for me?” KISS.
2. Chasing down a ghost?
Numerous data points and interviews with Vartopia’s Partner Advisory Council have confirmed that more often than not, the people you think are registering deals, are not.
With most partner portals, and deal registration systems only one contact can be submitted at the time of the registration submission leaving out the multiple other points of contact that might be influencing that deal across the finish line.
At resellers like CDW and SHI, a Deal Desk submits deals through the partner portal which means the only person whose name gets entered is that of the person submitting the deal. No sales rep, no sales engineer, no solutions architect, and the list goes on. When the time comes to try and chase down an update, you are left chasing someone who has literally no idea what is going on with that deal.
This situation creates unnecessary complications because now your team is unable to get updates, the partners are left wondering “why does my vendor partner never ask me for updates?” and your boss is constantly asking you why your partners never update their deals. This is a systems thing, one that can easily be solved by implementing the right PRM software.
3. Your partners are swiping right
Do you monitor the number of partners that drift away from your program each year? Chances are, you don’t even know they have left. The only data point visible to your organization is the lack of partners engaged in your portal.
Partners and vendors parting ways can happen for any number of reasons, sometimes they are easy to measure, often times it is a bit subjective. When Vartopia asked its Partner Advisory Council, the number one reason we found that partners leave vendors is that they are difficult to work with from a technology perspective. The vendor lacked the tools to effectively collaborate with the partner, opting to invest time with vendors who already had a Partner Relationship Management software in place.
As the technology world becomes more and more saturated with vendors wanting to go to market through partners, controlling what can and deploying a best-in-class Partner Relationship Management software helps to ensure they come back for more.
4. Optimizing Partner Portal
A simplified partner portal is easy to navigate. With the correct tools, you can even create customized dashboards with the most relevant information that your partner needs at their fingertips. This information could be about training updates, deal status, or any program-related information. Either way, if it is important to the sales rep at your partner, make it front and center.
While optimizing your partner portal remember not to clog your portal with unnecessary material or fillers that can defeat the purpose of optimization. The information that is readily available on your website should not be reflected on the portal.
5. Partner Program has too many conditions
A partner program should be well-structured, and progression through the relationship should be well documented before moving onto the next phase of your relationship with the partner. When your partner program’s T&Cs doc is longer than an Encyclopedia, chances are it is too complex, and partners might be dissuaded from doing business with you. The organization should make sure that unnecessary conditions should not be applied to partners that can make them lose out interest.
Are you struggling to reduce the complexity of your partner program?
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