Because partners come in many shapes and sizes, it is important to have a well-thought strategy for building a network of talent partners. Treating them all equally will frustrate you, your partners, as well as your customers. It’s not easy to succeed in the tech industry. The right solutions, the right salespeople and the right marketers are essential to success in the tech industry. To really gain traction on the market, you need a large pool of partners, such as MSPs, integrators, and solution providers. They can act as extended sales representatives for your products or services.
A well-thought strategy is essential to build a large, deep pool talent partners. Partners come in all shapes, sizes, and it is likely that treating them all equally will frustrate you, your partners, as well as your customers.
CompTIA has created a series of training programs to help tech vendors understand the dynamics of a strong partnership base. CAM Training 101 is for beginners and CAM Training 201 is for advanced channel management initiatives. These programs are free for all CompTIA corporate members. However, they can also be purchased for a fee by non-members. According to Susan Kostbar (Vice President of Member Recruitment and Retention at CompTIA), both programs are great refreshers for individuals and companies with channel experience. [NOTE: You can read Part 2 of this blog here.]
“Tech vendors can expect to learn a variety of tips and tricks to help them be more successful with their partners.” Kostbar stated that the classes usually cover different aspects of channel partnerships and offer proactive steps that vendors can take back to their companies.
Better Partners Means Better Business
Survey results from a recent CAM 101 training show that channel training is still needed. Nearly 91% of participants said that their company had channel conflict at a moderate (75.5%) or high (15.1%) level. Only 7% of attendees said that their companies had no channel conflicts within their organizations.
Six tips are included in CompTIA’s CAM 101 training. These tips help to manage channel conflict. This refers to situations where a vendor’s direct selling team competes against its partners or two partners competing for the same opportunity. Channel conflict can be reduced, but not eliminated, if the process is fair and balanced that benefits all parties.
“Channel conflict has been a problem for me over the many years that I have worked with channel leaders, but it can sometimes be a healthy topic to discuss.” Kostbar stated that channel conflict is a sign that you have good coverage in the cases where partners and direct team members may overlap.
Vendors should be careful not to cause channel conflict.
Get a clear understanding about the rules of engagement
Respect those rules and commit to their consistent application
Customers make the final purchase decision
Partner with you to define a target audience.
Early in the process, communicate sales opportunities
Be consistent and credible
It is important to remember that not every partner is the same. Partner models are changing and so are vendor/partner relationships.
“We are aware of the changing channel landscape, where partners have a variety partner models. Kostbar said that some may prefer to be specialized in SaaS application integrations while others may prefer to work in non-product presale consultancies and more from solution-based to product-based approaches. It’s important to embrace different types of partners and have programs that are appropriate for each.
Participants will be guided through six modules in the CAM 101 workshop:
Know your game and your goal
Prioritization and Partner Alignment
Partner Productivity Accelerated
Understanding and managing multiple channel partner goals
Marketing through and with Channel Partners
Trends in Emerging Technology & Customer Experience
Building the Right Channel Skills
Channel account managers who are successful are not born. A lot of their success can also be attributed to the way their company structures their channel program, defines goals and evaluates current capabilities to create a strategy that fosters development.
This strategy should include processes for building, managing, and communicating across all levels of partners, as well plans to hold them accountable for their success.
“Be a win-win advocate of your business and your partners. Gary Bixler, a former instructor in CAM 101, said that you need the right skills and support from your company to do this. “I also see a lot CAMs being reluctant to hold partners accountable, especially in the CAM 101 area.