As providers of cloud-based unified communications, we understand the importance of delivering a better user experience (UX). It’s essential for solutions to be intuitive and easy to use to promote adoption and guarantee success in the marketplace. Far less emphasis, however, has been placed on the “Partner Experience,” or how easy or difficult it is for channel partners to find success in selling a particular solution. MSPs, VARs, and solution providers are the lifeblood of unified communications, and arming the channel with a comprehensive set of services that meet the needs of their business customers is one of a provider’s most important responsibilities.
Yet many technology providers, unfortunately, regard the channel partner simply as a sales agent. They saddle their channel partners with strict processes and procedures, often with little regard for the partners’ ability to thrive in the long-term. The success of the partner undoubtedly depends on the vendor’s channel programs, and more specifically, how that technology provider perceives the relationship with its partner network. Is it based on mutual respect? Or is the relationship more transactional in nature, predicated solely on the ability to hit sales goals? The success of both the technology developer and partner depends on mutual understanding, common goals, and frequent communication.
The channel is among the most important assets available to a technology partner. It’s essential that partners and vendors feel invested in each other’s long-term growth. To create more partner-centric programs, technology providers should keep the following in mind:
More flexible sales quotas: One way to quickly alienate the partner community is to implement strict sales requirements that put all the emphasis on volume, with little regard for helping the partner strengthen their ability to evolve. Vendors should instead offer channel-friendly incentives to better motivate partners, or provide training on new technologies to help them alleviate the learning curve and attain success more quickly.
Private label opportunities: Vendors are frequently focused on promoting their proprietary brands. However, if channel partners are empowered with options such as private-labeled or co-branded vendor solutions, they’ll be able to play to their strengths and leverage the vendor’s brand power as necessary to increase their odds of winning new business. Technology vendors that offer these options help the partner to escalate their position from just another provider to an indispensable resource for their business customers while harnessing the power and reputation of vendors with market recognition.
Scalable, growth-oriented solutions: More than anything, providers of cloud-based solutions are looking for scalable, effective platforms that allow them to move “upstream” and grow their addressable customer bases. Versatile, hosted solutions that serve a variety of verticals and a range of customers from small to large provide partners a more compelling and flexible offering. Bundling cloud collaboration solutions including voice, video, rooms and webinars with contact center will build customer loyalty, simplifying the customer’s buying, operations and support, while positioning the partner as a single-source for all business communications needs.
Channel partners compete in a tough, price-sensitive sector, where innovation is constantly changing. Partners need to feel appreciated and respected by their technology vendors, and that their partner programs and policies give them the best chance to succeed. If technology providers can consistently deliver on this proposition, it will translate into greater revenue, build partner loyalty, and improve the long-term outlook for all.