Mindshare, engagement and collaboration are terms that have been a focus of our attention on this blog in the last year. All of these aspects are critical to the success of your channel partner strategy. Mindshare was just covered in our post last week. Let’s focus on collaboration.
You recognize that a channel partner strategy is the best approach for increasing your company’s sales and you have already formed a network of strong partner relationships. The right channel partners have the market knowledge, distribution channels, sales expertise and customer relationships to successfully sell your products and/or services. Managing these relationships is a very complex and time consuming task and significantly impacts profitability. Finding ways to improve collaboration is clearly a factor of success.
Your channel partners are just that – your partners. As such, it is important to engage with them at all levels and build relationships that value what each party brings to the table. Collaboration is critical for partner organizations to interact with each other to realize shared goals. This interaction can take many forms, but problem solving, open communication, and sharing of best practice ideas are at the top of the list. To be successful, you need the right business processes and technology in place to create a collaborative environment for your channel partners. This is what is referred to as partner relationship management, which is the combination of business practices and technology to increase the value of partner interactions.
Effective and efficient interaction between your company and your channel partners, and even between channel partners directly, has benefits for all involved. These include the following
- Increased productivity
- Increased loyalty and engagement
- Greater profitability
- Greater consistency and predictability of the interactions
Collaboration at the initial stages of any partnership can set the stage for effective business relationships by letting your partners know that you value their perspective. Without effective collaboration, you are likely to see channel partners will not have a high level of engagement with your company. In any non-captive channel, your partners represent other companies, so their sales teams have options when it comes to what products and services they choose to focus their time and energy on.
Your partners are looking for easy access to the material they need to be more productive: training courses, marketing content that is readily available and easy to customize, lead management and sales productivity tools that can be accessed by the appropriate people, and social forums that the sales force can feel connected and have a means to share best practices. This complete tool set can be found in today’s leading channel management software solutions. The more advanced solutions are web-based systems which serve as one-stop partner portals with single sign on to all mission critical partner facing systems.
Partnerships can produce astonishing results, but only when:
- Information flows freely
- All parties involved trust each other
- All parties are accountable and dedicated to the goal of mutual success
Developing a culture that encourages collaboration will increase partner engagement. Effective partner relationship management requires a business culture that fosters collaboration and engagement. Furthermore, to be successful, you will need to deploy the right technology. You owe it to yourself to consider a channel management software solution which will optimize channel partner performance.