ChannelVision Playbook Volume 8

In fact, some vendors are opening a program for ISVs or developers, in order to stitch together their platforms for cus- tomers. (Someone has to glue all those APIs together.) But what can a channel manager do who isn’t recruiting but working with active partners who are selling legacy products? Well, you could let them ride with a light touch. The other approach is almost as time consuming as recruiting and on-boarding new partners. Go take the temperature of the active partners. Start by asking them if they want to have a business meeting. Find out what they do (main line of business). In other words, ask these questions: • What verticals do they play in? • What size businesses do they sell to? • Who is their target customer? • What is the title of the buyer you sell to? • What lines of business make up most of their business? • What services do they need to flush out the complete solution? • What training do they need/want? • Would they like help selling the deal? • How do they market their services? • How do they like to communicate? Skype, email, text, Slack? • How do you see us working together? • Is this a one-off or are you looking to add us to your portfolio? • Can we get our logo on your website? These questions discern who shares target customers with you or what ser- vices can be incorporated into their cur- rent sales approach. Where do you com- plement their business? Where are you ancillary? (By the way, it would be nice if you could also answer these questions about the vendor for the partner.) This may be time consuming, espe- cially if you have a large number of part- ners. However, many partners won’t set this meeting, which will tell you some- thing: if they are interested or not. If they aren’t interested, note that and move on. They are either not ready or not able. The whole concept of an “aligned partner” comes from the target customer of the partner being within the sweet spot for the vendor. The services of the vendor fit the partners’ portfolio. You aren’t adding services that are far flung GettingAligned I BM and other vendors have expressed frustration with the pace of transformation in their partners. Some experts and analysts, in turn, suggest that vendors simply look for new partners. How channel managers can help partners in transition By Peter Radizeski from what the agent is comfortable selling or able to sell. One problem is that vendors think that the target market is “everyone.” What a misconception. What a huge error to make. The best customer has a need, a budget and a desire to buy your services. The best customer is impacted by your services. Look at the vendor case studies – those will deter- mine what the target customer really is. Some of this should have been done when on-boarding your part- ners, but most vendors don’t have a formal process for on-boarding customers. Most just add them to an email list and send them webinar in- vites and promotional emails. Partners are in turmoil. They are aging, and many thought they’d have cashed out by now. Not happening. Master agencies are trying to figure out how they stay relevant and in busi- ness. Value added distributors such as Ingram and Jenne are morphing into master brokers, too, because who doesn’t like the recurring revenue. And they have to replace the significant loss of hardware business. Recognize who your best partner is. Duplicate that. Asking the above questions leaves you knowing who is in. Isn’t that worth knowing? It isn’t about 2,700 partners who don’t sell your stuff (or the 270 who are still asking for network quotes looking for the cheapest). It’s about the 25 partners who align with you and march alongside you. o Peter Radizeski is presi- dent of RAD-INFO INC., a telecom strategy and mar- keting consulting agency. He is also author of five books and is available to speak at your events. 16 THE CHANNEL MANAGER’S PLAYBOOK