When selling to mid- and large-size enterprise customers, there are few strategies that can help growing vendor organizations succeed as well as building a successful channel partner program in the process. Channel partners bring the vertical focus, local contacts and business know-how for their area that can take years to acquire – making them a great way to quickly make an impact for a new, or rapidly expanding, vendor.
Done right, a channel partner program brings maximum returns from sales resources for the vendor, as well as financial and organizational success to partners. Here are eight key elements needed to make the relationships work:
- Make sure that partner and vendor businesses align. This is pretty simple – you both need to be in the same business. For Vormetric partners, they need experience in the IT Security field, and ideally also with enterprise-class data protection solutions. It also means:
- That the mix of solutions on the partner’s line card needs to be a good match for the vendor, complimentary solutions should be there with the local business contacts that the partner can leverage to get initial sales moving.
- That the partner’s business model includes both the technical and business resources that make it possible for them to support enterprise-class products.
And, the “right” partner will have a customer base that the vendor can leverage, technical resources that can promote the solutions capabilities and a commitment to market in order to generate lead opportunities.
- Commitment between partner and vendor. Contracts are a good starting point, but one element required for success is a strong relationship between the partners. To make this happen, tangible, on-going action items and tracking of results are required. Without this, on-boarding of the new partner, and building the on-going relationship as products and market conditions change simply won’t happen.
- Executive level sponsorship –partner and vendor. Part of this commitment is the need for both partner and vendor to identify executive sponsors inside their organizations who are incented and committed to making the relationship successful. These are the point people in each organization that have a vested interest in seeing the relationship succeed and strong sales develop. It’s hard to under-rate the importance of this item, as without strong advocates with “skin in the game”, the chances of a successful, long term relationship drop sharply.
- Partner revenue requirements. Partners need to be held accountable for negotiated, appropriate revenues for their area. This doesn’t mean that partners have to deliver on a quota from day 1. But from a vendor point-of-view, it does mean that if the vendor is providing the support resources to help make partners successful, sales should follow. If sales don’t result as expected, both partners need to re-evaluate the relationship and make sure that there is still a fit.
- A vendor partner program that drives partner success. Partner programs run the gamut from minimal support to daily one-on-one engagement, but for the enterprise IT security market it’s critical that the right program elements are there to enable partners:
- Access to leads, deal registration and sales support – Ensure that opportunities are securely assigned and that both support and customer opportunities are there to drive sales velocity
- Marketing programs that work – Joint marketing materials and activities to raise awareness and bring in customers
- Collateral that clearly defines the vendor’s solution and how it ties into what the partner can provide
- Technical support and training – To provide basic tools needed for success for deals that will always include a technical element, and the high level support to make the partner shine in front of customers
- Sales Teams – Must be clearly aligned. Sales business and technical teams need to be properly compensated and incented to co-operate for the joint goal of closing business – both teams need to bring their strengths to the table to make deals happen
- Discount levels from the vendor must allow the partner to be successful. Incentives for greater sales + a minimum “floor” level to make it possible for the partner to make money in the business is required.
- Training. Proper training efforts must be provided by the vendor for the partner to succeed in identifying proper customer prospects, in what they’ll need to move deals forward. This includes both business and technical aspects of products and solutions. It should be an ongoing process as well so, that partners are always learning and staying up with the latest the vendor has to offer. Constant training and awareness is critically important.
Successful, well rounded channel relationships allow complimentary organizations to both excel at what they do best. Making it possible for these successful relationships to develop and flourish is something that we at Vormetric are strongly committed to. Vormetric has more than doubled channel sales in the past two years, and just last month announced our expanded, channel program. With true best-in-class programs and products, we’re looking forward to strongly growing our business, and that of our channel partners, this year.”