Why Cheap is a False Economy

All the temptations of cheap software, are understandable. Five of them nearly always make the “Gotcha List” and leave buyers realizing that cheap is often the highest price to pay – and which is certainly the case with Partner Relationship Management software. If you see yourself in the list below, take heed to ensure your organization ultimately ends up with a solution that has the functionality and flexibility to truly power your business and scale as you scale.

1. “This will do for now as a bit of quick hack -- we’ll refactor later.”

  • In the majority of cases, the reality is that the choice you make at the beginning, is often what you’re stuck with -- for years. It’s rare that organizations have the intestinal fortitude to go back and start all over again.

  • When it comes to PRM, that’s a tremendous risk to take when it comes to both the financial strength of your partner program and your ability to attract and retain the best partners. Consider these stats – Impartner PRM customers report an average revenue increase of 31 percent in the first year of use alone. And, leading research shows that Partner Portals are important to a full 86% percent of partners when considering vendors. Can you afford to have your competitors outperforming you on revenue, or attracting and retaining the best partners because their partner experience outperforms yours. You need to build a world-class Partner Portal out of the gate to help you shine from day one, or you risk being behind – for years.

2. “How much better can it be, really – both solutions seem to do the same thing.”

  • Admittedly, finding out what’s beyond a check box is tough – but the effort is critical. A key example would be two PRMs which both tout that they, “Synch with Salesforce CRM.” However, one might batch synch every 15 minutes, and one might synch continually in real time, which is critical for deal registration and ensuring there is no risk of channel conflict. No vendor can afford having one partner lose a deal to another because of synching issues: channel conflict is the No. 1 reason partners leave partner programs. Or, you may find an inability to integrate and MDF solution with a CRM, requiring users to enter data into two places to be able to fully track ROI – a task few are willing to do. Your inexpensive, non-integratible MDF solution, will prove to be a complete waste of money and not just a good deal.

  • Taking time to understand the depth of the functional of “what’s behind the box check” is one of the most critical things you can do. It’s the only way to ensure you don’t buy a solution with limited functionality or an inability to integrate which ultimately cause liabilities for your business and silos of data that leave you with a lack of visibility across your organization.

3. “This company is small, and doesn’t have any overhead, so they’re cheaper – it won’t have any impact on our experience.”

  • As an enterprise, you need to ensure you are buying a solution that has a track record of success with clients and financial stability, that they can provide the depth of service you need to meet the demands of your company across multiple time zones, and they have the research and development strength to ensure there is a strong roadmap for enhancing the solution you’ve invested in. If you are like most organizations, 75 percent or more of your revenue goes through your channel, and your PRM solution powers its growth. Can you afford to risk your channel with a software vendor who doesn’t have the organizational strength to support you 24/7, continually scale your solution as you scale.

4. “These guys can build any functionality with an off-shore developer – and that’s why they’re cheaper.”

  • One-time solutions are potentially great the day they are built and may cost less at the outset. However, they are typically single-tenant solutions that cannot be updated in mass, and immediately begin aging. No one is looking out for the roadmap and/or ensuring that their ability to integrate with your CRM or other point solutions is updated as those solutions are updated – and your integrations can and will fail quickly. To be updated, you will need to go back to your vendor, and they will need to go back to their developers, often many time zones away, to update your solution. It’s costly and time consuming. Choosing a software solution that is truly a platform, will ensure that your channel teams and your IT teams can rest well, knowing that someone is making sure they are continually updating and improving – so those teams don’t have to worry about it. It’s the true promise of a SaaS solution.

5. “I can’t modify the functionality of the inexpensive platform I’m looking at with the “secret sauce” that differentiates my partner program for others and I’ll look exactly like everyone else -- but it’s cheap so it’s good enough.”

  • With PRM, your losses will outweigh your spend nearly instantly, here’s why. You are going to look the same and have the same functionality as all your competitors. The value in your partner program and your partner portal is not just the looks, it’s the process. The way YOU configure YOUR deal registration and MDF programs are what makes your program more enticing that the next guy and allows you to differentiate. Sure, general best practices are built into many solutions, but if you don’t have a tool that allows you to configure the deal registration process the way yours runs – you will have EXACTLY the same program as the next guy and you won’t be differentiated and it will be tough to capture mindshare. The tool is driving your process, versus the other way around. Plus, many technologies have THEIR name in your URL – so you’re giving them marketing power and diluting YOUR brand.
  • Cheap and generic may feel good in the short-term, but your competitors aren’t doing “good enough.” The PRM market is on fire, and in a competitive landscape where you and your competitors are competing for the same partners, you can’t afford to be up and running in anything less than a world-class portal. In three to six months, you’ll be racing to catch up with a portal that offers a differentiated value – and you’re already behind.

If you see yourself in this list, take heart and take a demo with Impartner. We’ll show you how Impartner’s powerful PRM platform helps our customers continually optimize and scale their channel in a way that makes cheaper alternatives that can’t deliver the same results - much more expensive.

The 5 Best Practices for Starting a Channel

If you’re building a channel, it’s always best practice to follow best practices. In an excerpt from Impartner’s eBook, “The Ultimate Field Guide to Starting a Channel,” here are the five key steps for success:

  1. Solidify and clearly explain the policies you will employ within the program.
  2. The first step is to establish strategy, then establish policies, then the program. It’s important for senior leadership to understand the channel and the depth of these requirements or leaders risk fast employee burnout, or over commitment and under-resourced initiatives which ultimately fail or do not produce the expected growth. For example, your strategy could be to have a direct relationship with enterprise corporations. Therefore, you would have a policy that states when an opportunity would be taken direct or with a partner. And your program would state the rules of engagement that support the policy.

    You could also use deal registration as an aspect to your program to enforce some of the policies. If your strategy were for enterprise accounts to be managed directly, your policy would ask for partners to register opportunities to help identify anything that supports the vendor’s enterprise direct touch strategy. And, your program would enforce the best practices of deal registration with extra benefits to drive that type of behavior.

    Channel conflict is another set of critical up-front policies to establish. Hand in hand with deal registration, you will need to set forth the policies on how you will handle involvement with your direct sales force and indirect sales force. Within your program, you may establish a list of accounts that are known direct, or rules for which a partner may then work a direct account. Whatever you do, be sure they are clear and are known early in the sales process, to avoid any duplication of efforts or worst yet false starts or fast partner failures. Channel / Indirect – Direct / and Partner – Partner conflict is one of the prime reasons partnerships fail to product expected targets.

  3. Invest in end user demand generation for partners.

  4. The pace of business these days is incredibly fast, and the fastest way to revenue is when vendors assist in finding and somewhat qualifying leads for partners to engage with. You may think of this as “priming the pump” but it really has become the best practice way of getting partners on board and getting to revenue quickly. The “best practice” is a co-marketing/co-demand generation with the channel partner. The vendor needs to establish a demand generation closed loop process that results in the partner getting qualified and ready-to-buy leads.

  5. Make systematic and inter-organizational trust and collaboration a competency in your organization.

  6. Collaboration should be the primary vehicle for progress versus command and control. According to an annual CEO study, collaboration — both deliberate collaborative business practices and processes emerge as a strategic competency. Collaborative business practices has also emerged as a new ISO11000 standard – turning it from an art to a science - and aimed at ensuring channel partnerships and strategic alliances are built on strategic business practices from the onset.

  7. Ensure that you have the highest level of skills within your team.

  8. You can assess the current team’s skills against a channel / partner competency model, recognize hiring gaps, and/or prepare to elevate the skills of the teams where necessary. Theresa Caragol Consulting’s new 2017 Competency Model established that as a best practice for the requirements for our next generation CAMs, they should cover the 4 main areas of knowledge for a CAM: Business Acumen, Industry Expertise, Deep Channel Expertise and Collaboration Acumen / EQ. This quadrant and the sub skills for each can serve as a checklist for the types of individuals you will need to have leading and working on your indirect channel initiative.

  9. Protect all of the above with a technology and systems support plan including PRM.

  10. Often, building this “Channel Technology Stack” is an afterthought and companies go wrong and end up with more costs later. As the indirect model expands into new geographies, partner types, customer use cases, and channel business models – the one common link is the support infrastructure.

    It’s important to make automation decisions from the onset that will grow with your success. For example, consider a Customer Relationship Management tool that integrates well with your Partner Relationship Management tool, and yet further integrates with Incentive Automation or Demand Generation Platform. Evaluate your options available, check references and talk to existing clients; and consider the companies you are buying them from to ensure they are capitalized well for the long term. For example, you may choose to work with companies who have established relationship and partnership with other vendors in a potential “stack” of a solution you are taking to market. Taking these factors into consideration can save you time, money, and aggravation as your channel strategy and programs scale with success.

Want to learn more about building a channel? Get your complete copy of Impartner’s Ultimate Field Guide to Starting a Channel here.

Reflecting on 20 Years, 2020 and Beyond

Two decades ago I felt strongly enough about the future of SaaS solutions to quit my role teaching computer science, which I loved, and founded TreeHouse Interactive to develop cloud-based applications. I am as passionate and excited about the future potential today as I was twenty years ago.

Throughout our history, we’ve strived for the best, not just good enough. We put together like minded teams who shared the passion, vision and work ethic. The recipe worked, and coupled with an intense focus on market driven features and product scalability, we continued to have growth and success.  Ultimately, PRM followed the typical Gartner technology hype cycle – cresting to Peak Expectations, then sliding down into the Trough of Disillusionment, and resting there until the solution could truly be productized and easily consumable by main-street corporations and not just early tech adopters.

For TreeHouse Interactive (now Impartner) the rapid climb to the next phase came just over two years ago with the acquisition by our now CEO, Joe Wang, and Kennet Partners. With sage advice from the Kennet team and the leadership of Joe, one of our first actions was to completely refactor the product and deploy Impartner PRM in as few as 14 days with our simple, three-step Velocity process - finally launching PRM into the mainstream. The resulting business ride has matched the roller coaster of the Gartner Hype Cycle itself, as we’ve soared into the next phase, the Plateau of Productivity. We’ve not only refactored, but we also introduced a stream of industry-first innovations to make Impartner PRM the industry’s most nimble, easy-to-update platform on the market, expanded into EMEA and Latin America, nearly quadrupled our staffing (and engineering – yay!), moved offices twice, and won nearly 30 national and international awards for both products and executive leadership.

As we’ve continued to expand, I never imagined it would be possible to find a better fit when it came to future growth of partners.  However, today our trajectory takes another leap forward with our announcement of $15 million in funding from another powerful partner, Emergence Capital, the leading growth-stage enterprise cloud VC. To use their words, Emergence “Seeks to be the most important partner to the most important companies who are building the future of work.” Those are big words from a firm that’s an initial investor in so many leading companies in the market today, including Box, Intaact and Salesforce. The investment represents more than capital - it represents an addition to the Impartner family of proven SaaS technology leaders and experts who share our values, vision and platform goals.  The Emergence team brings a wealth of knowledge and resources for taking companies in our growth position to the next level.

As I take a rare moment to reflect on the past twenty years and how far we’ve come, I’m just as excited about the power of PRM, cloud technologies, the value Impartner PRM brings to the market, and in our long-ago decision to move to the technology nurturing Silicon Slopes!

In this week’s SiliconSlopes News, the publication noted that as part of Forbes’ Cloud 100 release, six of the top-dogs in cloud computing are in Utah and dozens are incubating – and now Impartner joins this prestigious mix.  I speak for myself and our entire Impartner team when I say that with the 31 percent increase in channel revenue, and 23 percent reduction in administrative costs our technology delivers, we couldn’t be more excited about our path forward. Our journey providing more innovative and exciting Channel solutions is only just beginning.

How to Make Sure Your PRM is a Platform for Growth and Scalability

By nearly every measure, worldwide, the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) market is hot. Caliente. En feu. In fiamme. Companies have realized that PRM is as critical to their success as CRM.

What that means, of course, is that there are more and more PRM choices to help you harness the power of your partner network and accelerate indirect sales – a rising tide floats all boats. However, to allow your business to grow and scale, one of the most critical elements in your selection is to ensure you choose a PRM that is truly built on a platform that is architected to grow as fast as you are -- and not a standard, static Partner Portal solution. Here are the top three reasons why:

  1. Scalability:

    Just like a house connected to major utilities, a true platform means the infrastructure powering your PRM has capacity on tap to add new functionality and/or scale as you scale to handle tens, thousands or tens of thousands of partners. The infrastructure you need to power your growth is already there – and is always being updated – so your PRM is always ready and able to scale as you scale.

    Using that same analogy, a standard PRM portal compares to a lone cabin that’s not connected to a city’s infrastructure. To expand the house for more inhabitants, it is the owner’s responsibility to add more power, and replumb and rewire to meet the needs of the community – nothing happens automatically to make sure it’s ready for the future. Impartner PRM helps companies scale their channel programs an average of 46% faster – can yours?

  2. Extensibility:

    Platforms, by their very nature, are an extensible base upon which you can run and build out critical business processes now and into the future. Using the house analogy again, a platform means you have a thick, strong foundation with the capacity to carry more weight, and that a “never ending” foundation is already pre-poured, wired and plumbed to easily add additional functionality. With a standard Partner Portal solution, what’s there is there. Each new piece of functionality will mean a new foundation to be poured and wiring and cabling run. You’ll need to go back to your PRM vendor to add additions to your solution, costing you time and money.

  3. Changeability:

    With standard Partner Portal solutions, functionality is “blindly obedient” and can only do what it can do – it comes with pre-defined business logic that will need to be completely rebuilt, should you need to change the nature of how you operate your channel. This means you’d need to go back to your PRM vendor and back to their developers – very often continents and time zones away – to make simple changes which is a costly process and lacks the agility you need to manage your channel in real time.

  4. By contrast, Impartner’s PRM platform “abstracts” logic from the application, so that it is changeable and configurable with clicks not code. Making changes is more like changing something in a smart home – with a few buttons you can autonomously update lighting, power, temperatures, etc. This makes updates easy for you, and belies the sophistication and complexity of the platform underpinning your PRM that gives you that flexibility.

At Impartner, we get questions every day from companies lured by the Siren’s song of building a portal themselves – or turning to companies that rely on teams of off shore developers to, “build anything they want.” What we know is, time and time again, world leading, fast-growing companies from Splunk to Conga to Samsung turn to Impartner because they realize that the Impartner PRM platform is built for scale, built for nimbleness and built for the future.

For an infographic to compare and contrast the value of a PRM platform versus a standard PRM solution, click here. Ready to see Impartner PRM at work? Click here to take a demo.

Those Darn Sirens:

8 Points to Help You Resist the Sirens’ Song of Building Your Own Portal

The pace of transition to a SaaS solutions market is truly a phenomenon. IDC predicts that by 2018, at least half of IT spending will be Cloud-based, reaching 60% of all IT infrastructure, and 60–70% of all Software, Services, and Technology Spending by 2020. However, despite that growth and the increasing understanding of the “snap in and go” nature of SaaS solutions, human nature and the powerful lull of the Sirens’ Song of Building Your Own Portal continues to tempt an unfortunate number of companies – until it’s too late. Like most, at some point into the project, realize the resources for a build-it-yourself portal are beyond what anyone anticipated, and their project is stalling for lack of funding and bandwidth. If you’re tempted by having your IT team cobble together a new Partner Portal - beware! Here are eight lessons from others that BYOP (Building Your Own Portal) is a sirens’ song and not what you think it is.

  1. Time to market

  2. For most companies, the average time to build a homegrown Portal is 6 to 12 months. Your Partner Portal is the front door of your Partner relationships. If it isn’t helping you optimize your Partners’ performance, it's costing you and your Partners money, and 6 to 12 months is a business lifetime. Portal providers have already mapped out best practices with thousands of other companies, and know what world-class, enterprise-grade Partner Portal solutions need to bring to the table to give your Partners a great experience and your business a competitive edge. SaaS solutions can be up and running in just a few months – Impartner PRM in as few as 15 days.

  3. Loss of focus for your IT team

  4. Your IT team is busy keeping your company secure and maintaining business-critical services. Why would you focus your IT resources on building bespoke software when turn-key technology already exists that can be launched quickly, and can you keep it up to date in the future? With just 100 Partners and 5 sales team members, it would require one full-time employee to update and manage a PRM solution. What happens when you get to 1,000 Partners? SaaS vendors carry this scalability burden.

  5. Level of effort

  6. Out-of-the-box PRM systems are designed to plug into your existing CRM and light up with the data and information both you and your Partners are looking for. All the workflows are already integrated for every field. What are you gaining by doing this work yourself? Out-of-the-box solutions have already done the integration work and you don’t have to worry about expensive configuration errors. You didn’t custom build your CRM, why would you custom build your PRM?

  7. Lack of a roadmap for the future

  8. PRM solutions are constantly evolving. If you create your own Portal, whose technology roadmap are you on? Who will ensure that your Portal doesn’t become obsolete? Who will be responsive if security problems are found?

  9. Ongoing maintenance

  10. PRM solutions are built to integrate with CRM solutions. CRM solutions are also constantly updating – their data fields, their APIs, their features and functions – and they require that your PRM is constantly digitally “rewired” to ensure the systems are connecting and sharing data properly. Who in your organization will have the bandwidth to ensure the integration stays current?

  11. Infrastructure costs

  12. Portals need infrastructure – servers, security, configuration, redundancy, and availability. Most companies have hundreds or even thousands of partners around the world; do you have the in-house infrastructure to build, host, and support an enterprise-class Portal? Most Partner Portal solutions are SaaS, or cloud-hosted, and come with the infrastructure built in, so not only can you have your Portal up and running more quickly, you’ll know the front end of your new Portal is supported by a back end that is designed specifically to meet your partners’ needs.

  13. Initial creation costs

  14. What to do? When the costs start piling up, nine times out of 10 an organization will begin to “pare back” the feature set, leaving you with a rudimentary FTP site without the differentiating, revenue-building features you and your Partners so badly need. Turnkey SaaS solutions have already done the development work up front, so you are not paying the tech burden of custom making a solution that will cost you many times more for a feature set that’s typically less robust. If you sell indirect, between 80 and 100 percent of your revenue goes through the channel. While BYOP is tempting, it’s not worth the execution time, the risk of poor integration, the loss of short term and long-term focus for IT teams.

  15. Lack of channel expertise

  16. CRM companies (or your IT department) may know a lot about web development and SaaS architecture. They may be experts at setting up a website using an open source tool like WordPress or Drupal. But there's so much more to a Partner Portal than just the website. You need to engage with a company who can offer proven strategies for structuring an effective channel program, and then echo those in a Partner Portal. The value a true PRM company brings is less about the web development and much more about implementing best practices to accelerate your indirect sales.

Take a Demo of Impartner’s SaaS PRM tool that can have you up and running with a complete, enterprise-class Partner Portal as few as 15 days. View our complete Infographic for an in-depth look on how to resist the temptation of building your own portal.

Is Your PRM Platform 'Listening?'

How responding to “every move” your partners’ make accelerates channel revenue

We recently released the results of a global survey of our Impartner PRM customer base. There are a number of startling statistics on how our flagship PRM solution accelerates indirect sales – but 3 in particular, show how the power of Impartner PRM adds rocket fuel to your partners and your channel program by carefully stewarding your partners’ journey every step of the way. In the first year of use, on average, customers using Impartner PRM saw:

  • A 37% ramp in partner’s ramp to revenue productivity
  • A 32 percent increase in the percentage of partner base performing better with Impartner PRM
  • A 46% increase in the speed vendors can scale their overall channel program

The one defining feature of Impartner PRM that makes this possible: Our Channel Flow Workflow Engine. With it, your PRM platform is always watching, listening and observing your partners’ behavior, and triggering off communications on behalf of a partner manager. If your partners haven’t taken a critical action – we can give them a nudge. If they’ve passed a critical step, we prompt them to take the next one. If they’ve passed a critical milestone, we can bump them to the next level. At every step, we make it simple and easy, with clicks not code, for you to automate your partner’s journey exactly the way you want.

Without that, what happens? Nothing is automated and nothing is “listening.” Your team is going to have to look for the behavior and triggers in data, and hand craft communications to get them moving. In a channel program with 10 partners, that may be possible.  As you scale to 50, 100, 1,000 and beyond, that’s simply not possible. Without automation, your program will fail to grow as quickly as your competitors, no matter how many bodies you throw at the process.

If you want to learn more about how Impartner’s workflow engine ensures your PRM platform can truly respond to your partners’ behavior and automate shepherding them every step of the way to optimize their performance, watch this demo by our Senior Director of Product Management, Gary Sabin here. Ready to take a demo of Impartner PRM? Schedule your demo, and learn how we can help increase revenue 31 percent and decrease admin costs 23 percent.

More. Faster.

At the end of the day, if you boil down business objectives for most of us, those two words pretty much sum it up. All of us, whether we work for software, manufacturing, data center infrastructure companies, or any other vertical, the pressure to do more, faster, with the same or even fewer resources never lets up.

At Impartner – we’re not afraid of those two words. We’re proud that an increasing list of Who’s Who of top businesses, from Xerox to Splunk to Ingersoll Rand to Kodak Aleris turn to Impartner’s PRM software to accelerate the performance of their indirect channel.

In recent weeks, we released a series of customer case studies, for three more companies that define the velocity with which organizations are expected to move in today’s market: Ciena, Conga and Pivot3. Pivot3, for instance, a hyper-converged infrastructure company, has grown 80 percent in a year – which can test the mettle of even the most robust solutions. Impartner PRM not only kept up, it helped the company have the infrastructure to scale 400 partners in one year…and increase deal registration by partners by 275 percent – in six months.

Impartner PRM’s deal registration functionality has also played a starring role for Conga, the No. 1 paid app on the Salesforce AppExchange that simplifies and automates data, documents, contracts and reporting. Conga SI and Reseller Partner Program Manager Susie Wallingford said in the case study, “It’s driven down the average age of our deals to sometimes as low as a day, where a partner will register a deal and say, ‘Hey, I've done all the work for you. I just need you to send a quote,’ which has made my team look fantastic to our sales teams.”

Telecom leader Ciena sees similar popularity of deal registration with partners. “Our partners like this feature because it gives them a competitive advantage,” said Genevieve Beaumier, partner experience manager for Ciena. “This functionality provides the framework that allows Ciena and its partners to collaboratively work on new opportunities, including automated approval/notification workflows and real-time updates between the PRM and CRM systems.

If you want to learn more about how Impartner has accelerated channel performance from these customers, click here. If you’re ready to get more from your channel, faster, get a demo here.

When The Buck Stops With the CFO: Make Sure Your PRM Biz Case Has the Goods

In the not too distant past (three years ago), the line at the CFO’s door asking for a new technology buy was a short one: IT.

These days, it’s probably someone from every department – accounting itself, HR, sales, marketing, engineering, and so on. As the buying decision has shifted from IT to the business units, CFOs are faced with requests from every direction for THE technology every group is certain they NEED to have or they will fall behind.

Unfortunately, many fail to come armed with the information they need to help the CFO prioritize requests and understand what will truly have the most impact on the business. However, we know putting together the right info can be challenging. That’s why, in a recent white paper, we summarized the pre-sales conversations we’ve had with our customers, who are some of the world’s top corporations such as Splunk, Xerox, Conga, Zendesk and Ingersoll Rand. We’ve packed it full with data from a global Impartner customer survey to get right the business hard of the matter with your CFO and help you get the PRM buy of your dreams.

So, if you’re a channel/sales/marketing leader, read through this white paper, “The CFO’s Business Case for PRM,” and learn more about the top 13 reasons a PRM solution is the single most important technology purchase your company can make to accelerate your indirect sales. Just consider these performance stats from our Impartner PRM customer survey:

  • 31 percent increase in revenue
  • 23 percent decrease in administrative costs
  • 46 percent faster partner program scalability
  • 32 percent increase in percentage of partner base which improved their performance
  • 48 percent increase in sales for partners who have completed training programs
  • 56 percent increase in profit of partners who used sales enablement materials
  • Savings of up to $50,000/year by 90 percent and savings of up to $100,000/year by 10 percent by consolidating technologies and using functionality built into the PRM

Want to learn more, set up a one on one demo. We’ll help you make sure you’re ready to go grab a copy of this white paper for your CFO, secure your place in line, and get the budget you need to transform your channel’s performance.

To Whom It May Concern

"To whom it may concern..." Is that how you greet your partners on your partner portal? Of course not, you’re thinking to yourself, that would be crazy, right? Surprisingly, despite the explosion in the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) market, there are a tremendous number of companies out there who haven’t upgraded their partner portal technologies – and because they cannot personalize the experience for each of their partners who sign on – that’s essentially how they say hello to their partners.

If you’re one of those, you may be thinking – “Does it really matter so much, if ultimately, they can find the information they are looking for?” The answer is yes. Consumer-grade experiences with retailers like Amazon and airline frequent flyer sites, mean that most of us expect to be greeted by name, and given full insights into our purchases and offers that are available to us.

So what’s good enough in today’s market? Think in threes. If you cannot personalize your partner portal in at least three places or more, you are immediately at risk of “leaving money on the table.” Because you’re not able to optimize your digital conversations with your partners, you can’t convey the most important information when they visit your portal, and you’re at risk of having them leave you for vendors who make it easier to drive value out of your mutual relationship.

When your partners sign in, they should be greeted by name, see what next steps they need to take to be onboarded, be able to see their status and what would take to bump them to the next level, get info on new products, see what incentives and special offers are available to them, view their leads, see what events you have coming up in your area, see new content that’s available to them, understand what training is available…and on and on. At every level, Impartner customer stats show the power of that personalization: a 31 percent increase in revenue, a 37 percent increase in partner ramp time to profitability, and a 56 percent increase in partner profitability for partners using sales enablement materials.

Fortunately, if that is your current state, Impartner can help shift to a fully personalized partner portal experience in as few 30 days with our simple, yet highly engineered 3-step Velocity process. Take a demo to learn more.

An inability to personalize your partner portal is a topic covered in our recent eBook, "The Top 13 Signs You’ve Made the Wrong PRM Decision.” Read more about the 13 signs it's time to consider a new PRM solution to truly drive the performance of your channel.

Do You have the Business Mindset to be a Top Channel Chief?

When it comes to accessing your own business acumen, ask yourself these questions. Can you see around corners, tease out insights from a spreadsheet or dissect a PowerPoint presentation for structural flaws? How about breaking down an industry report and extracting new understandings that others miss? You’ll have to do these and more effectively to lead in the channel. Working with partners requires:

  • A data-driven mindset and the ability to think broadly and clearly at scale.
  • An understanding not only of sales models, but also marketing, customer experiences, social media, partner satisfaction and macroeconomics.
  • An understanding of the dynamics of partner recruitment, recognition and reward.
  • An ability to master more than your employer’s economics; you also have to immerse yourself in your partners’ finances no matter their size, focus or territory.

In addition to those skills, you’ll also need an ability to understand international business and regulations. For example, establishing a sales office and business entity in some countries is all you need to recruit and engage partners. In others, it’s merely a first step. In a significant portion of the world, you’ll have to master not just partner but government relations. And how you sell, reward and retain partners will require a vast amount of business acumen and cultural savvy. Partners in the some regions do not like entering information into Partner Resource Management (PRM) systems unless its triply verified. In other regions… things are more casual.

What does business acumen look like in action. In one instance a few years ago, an up-and-coming channel chief took a job for a company that, out of almost nowhere, zoomed to the top of key tech market. The company’s products were ideally suited to indirect sales and provided partners with lucrative after market opportunities. It literally was a “razor-and-blades” business for a moment in time. At the height of the company’s success, however, the channel chief sensed something was amiss. Product failures were growing and price commoditization, which negatively impacted partner margins, was rampant. When another vendor offered the bright young executive a job, he accepted it with mixed emotions. While he adored the people he worked with, he recognized that his employer’s technology was optimized for an era that was quickly coming to an end. His business acumen saved his career, in other words. At his next assignment, the same channel chief relied on his business acumen to secure greater funding and technological support for his company’s business partners.

To be a world-class channel chief, in other words, you must become develop a word-class mind for business. Think of it as though you were pursuing a Masters in Partner Administration or MPA.

This post is an excerpt from our new free eBook. Learn whether you have more of the element of what it takes to be a top channel chief in The Nine Attributes of a World-Class Channel Chief, authored by T.C. Doyle, Senior Content Director, Channel Brands, Penton Technology.