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Creating Indispensable Partner Relationships in a Time of Uncertainty

During this everchanging COVID-19 era, we are seeing an abundant need for a new balance of human and digital interactions to make our channel programs more successful. Strategies, tactics and nearly every aspect of the way we run our businesses have changed amid COVID-19. The channel is changing faster than ever and the same is true for partner relationships. The Spur Group’s Managing Director, Dan Overgaag, and channel management technology giant Impartner’s CMO, Kerry Desberg, discusses how to create that magical combination of digital and human touch to build partner relationships and to create successful channel programs.

Summarized from a recent webinar hosted in April, Dan Overgaag and Kerry Desberg discuss that while technology has made it possible to automate operational basics, using those technologies to free up time for more strategic conversations that truly build personal relationships is the most powerful combination – especially now in this time of worldwide uncertainty. They discuss and offer five strategic solutions that focus on why PRM solutions are vital during the COVID-19 crisis and how these PRM solutions can help companies stand out by creating indispensable relationships with their partners.

Protect and preserve your position as the vendor-of-choice during this time of uncertainty

In the last 18 months, Overgaag has seen a re-prioritization for partners. Partners are looking for a clear and strong partner value proposition instead of focusing on a powerful customer value proposition. A large number of companies fail to develop a core competency around partner value proposition and Overgaag believes that it should be an essential element to any channel effort. A solid partner value proposition provides the competitive filter a partner uses when determining which vendor they will sell and support with their customers. According to Overgaag, companies need to create partner value propositions based on three key elements which are momentum, relationships and economics. With momentum as the first key element, this is composed of customer demand, market share and leadership positioning. Making sure your products or solutions are innovative, making sure there is enough buzz generated around your product and evaluating your position in the field. With relationships as the second key element, partners will align to vendors that they see long term value in, based on their strategic objectives and engagement. Work on creating quality relationships with your partners and providing them with quality experiences. With economics as the third key element, partners want to see the financial return and what they can gain from vendor relationships. Work on sharing information, collaborate on business planning efforts and be thinking about the partner halo benefits.

Adapt and empower to better position yourself in a competitive marketplace
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, including business models and selling motions. Now is the time to separate yourself from other vendors in the minds of your partners. Avoid costly missteps within your channel management efforts by understanding your unique strengths and weaknesses while evaluating the competitor’s business proposition. Understand your partner value proposition, finetune your competitive position and conduct regular assessments to drive effectiveness with your channel efforts. Now more than ever, it is important to solidify those relationships and focus on delivering the three key elements. Empower your field and telesales teams with vital information needed to drive partner performance. Simplify your remote transactions with partners and invest in proper training. Focus on partner activation, provide structured onboarding and partner recruitment efforts to help partners stay focused and proactive.

Immediate changes you need to make now to ramp up your channel

Overgaag stresses that the steps companies take now to provide a good partner experience will define which vendors they favor for the next several years. Steps like focusing on partner experiences, doubling down on the partnership part of partnering and concentrating on channel efforts. Focus on partner experience by training your channel on new expectations, being magnanimous with program requirements and increasing partner communications around best practices. Double down on partnership by increasing your contra-revenue spend, making any services available more broadly and temporarily removing barriers around protected content. Concentrate on channel efforts by knowing all about your partner’s business, focusing on having and leveraging data and bringing capabilities in-house into your channel organization. Show your commitment and partnership during this time and reap the benefits for years to come.

Utilize channel management technology to handle the operational basics of your channel

Desberg explains that automation gives you time for that personal touch your partners are looking for. Without automation, your channel will not be able to scale, pivot and capture the revenue during these challenging marketing condition. Automation helps run your business without hiring additional staff. By automating these processes, easily provide a first-hand experience to customers in your channel ecosystem and capture every marketing opportunity. Desberg recommends automating the following seven processes: partner recruiting and onboarding, optimized training and certification, deal registration, performance tracking, marketing and communications, engagement, and capturing the showdown channel revenue. Taking care of the operational basics of your channel helps focus on the partner experiences and conversations that truly drive value. Treat PRM as your new employee, an employee that decreases administrative costs by 29% and saves $10 in labor for every $1 invested.

Outperform your competitors and engage your partners using PRM solutions

PRM solutions provide world-class partner experiences and can easily provide content and next steps needed to get partners up and running and delivering what the market needs. Enable partners from the safety of your own home, train and empower new partners with better access to training materials and certifications, deal with less channel conflict and gain partner loyalty, track performance and provide visibility to your partners with accurate reporting, and having the marketing and communication abilities all in one compact and effective solution. PRM solutions provide flexibility in this everchanging market by helping vendors communicate effectively to their partners, reduce 80% of channel conflict and provide contemporary automation tools that increases partner engagement by 41%. According to Desberg, if 75% of your revenue goes through channel, make sure to invest in channel management technologies like PRM to accelerate the performance of your channel.

Packed with essential advice and bursting with expert insights, find out how Impartner can help your business find the right solutions and accelerate growth during these unprecedented times. The best place to start this conversation is with our award-winning channel management platform. Impartner’s solutions are not only our customer’s most powerful secret weapon, it is easy to adopt, quick to deploy and fully customizable for your brand. If you’d like to learn more about how Impartner can strengthen and transform your channel today, visit impartner.com/demo.

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