Is Your CQ high enough?

At this year’s ImpartnerCON ’17, the theme was straight forward: Acceleration. For three days, the focus for channel leaders from around the world was 100 percent on best practices for accelerating channel operations – including individual performance. In a thoughtful overview based on more than 30 years working with and interviewing Channel Chiefs, Channel Strategist and Senior Content Director at Penton T.C. Doyle pulled back the curtain on the nine attributes today’s top channel chiefs have in common.

The topic could not be more timely, given that more and more, today’s top chiefs must match the skill base of other c-suite players, or they are at risk having their channel operations lag behind – and being replaced by someone with a more contemporary skill set.

“In 2017, compressed product cycles are evolving customers’ needs and business models are undergoing significant reinvention – and the skill set needed for those who manage partner programs for vendors—aka ‘channel chiefs’ – is now much broader and more sophisticated than ever before,” Doyle said. “It’s not just enough to have a high Intellectual Quotient (IQ) or exemplary work ethic to succeed in this capacity; you need a high “Channel Quotient” CQ, which is a combination of nine attributes that include a range of both business and emotional skills.”

In his presentation, Doyle outlined the nine attributes listed below, and brought the power of these attributes to life with real-life examples of successes – and failures:

  1. Organizational Influence
  2. Business Acumen
  3. Decisive Leadership
  4. Technological Savvy
  5. Operational Efficiency
  6. Customer Orientation
  7. Personal Integrity
  8. Intellectual Curiosity
  9. Infectious Optimism

To illustrate the power of organization influence, Doyle share a rather painful example of a new channel chief of a well-known tech company, who had failed to meet the CEO before taking the job. After fumbling around for some words, the channel chief confessed sheepishly, “I didn’t meet him before I took the job.” “It was a portentous sign,” Doyle said. “Despite the chief’s best efforts to improve channel relations and implement pro-friendly channel policies, the company’s partner programs never fully transformed. One reason? Sales leaders with closer ties to the CEO persuaded him to accept more channel conflict than what the channel chief liked. Not surprisingly, the individual lasted only a few years in the role.”

While we’re sorry you may have missed this year’s ImpartnerCON, Doyle’s comments are available in a new eBook underwritten by Impartner and authored by Doyle, “The Top Attributes of a World-Class Channel Chief.” Get your complimentary copy here and find out what skills you need to work on to be a top channel chief in today’s market.

Portals and Your Pyramid: Meeting the Needs of Your Partner

Since The Age of Enlightenment philosophers, psychologists and economists have studied and debated the motivations behind human behavior. Theories abound. Sigmund Freud, for one, theorized that the unconscious mind motivates behavior to a far greater degree than the conscious. During WWII, General Dwight D. Eisenhower had the ultimate motivational task of asking his forces to perform tasks up to - and including - the ultimate sacrifice. He observed that motivation is “the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”

Less learned theories and approaches abound as well. In the 1992 presidential campaign, political strategist James Carville coined, “The economy, stupid” as a message that could motivate voters to act.

And then there’s Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs, “a theory of human motivation predicated on fulfilling innate human needs by priority, culminating in self-actualization.” Motivation is driven by needs. Maslow noted that the human hierarchy of needs spans from the tangible, such as food and water, to the intangible, such as self-esteem and creativity.

Taylor Made Motivation

Not to place too fine a point on it, but an organization also has needs and subsequent motivations to satisfy them. While Maslow’s theory was expressed in terms of how an individual’s needs drive motivation, they can be applied equally to what motivates aspects of your business activities, including channel management. This is something I call “Taylor’s Hierarchy of Channel Needs.”

If you step back for a moment and consider the implications, this humorous take on Maslow is really no laughing matter. You have sales targets, budgets, quotas, etc. Are those needs being satisfied using the right motivational carrots and sticks? Still relying solely on sales incentives and overrides to satisfy the needs of your sales team? How about the needs of channel partners? What happens when those are no longer sufficient to slake their thirst?

In Maslow’s foundation, the physiological need for food, water and shelter are the very requirements for human existence. In today’s hyper-competitive environment - regardless of your industry – your sales foundation is likely built upon indirect sales channels.

Indeed, indirect channel sales are the foundation of a modern and infinitely scalable sales organization representing over 80 percent of all technology sales and more than 70 percent of non-technology sales. That’s the foundation your sales success (or failure) is based on. Build it on a spreadsheet or some other infernal in-house contraption (sand) and the entire structure - scalability, deal registration, etc, - collapses like a bad soufflé.

The Concrete of the Pyramid

Too many organizations today still try to cut corners on this most mission-critical component, deploying either re-purposed CRM software or half-baked in-house solutions that could never possibly take into account the plethora of capabilities that true world-class PRM tools can offer, and for far less than it costs in time and money (time is money) to DIY.

The key to achieving a strong, durable foundation rests in the careful proportioning and mixing of the ingredients. That starts with your PRM portal. It is the cement, water and aggregate of your foundation. Indirect channel partners worth their weight are also worth the effort of provisioning them with the highest quality of resources and mobility they need to succeed.

The capabilities and ease of use a partner portal offers is the most frequently quoted “must have” for indirect channel partners. In an eye-opening new stat from global analyst firm Frost and Sullivan, a full 86 percent of today’s partners base their decisions on which vendor to work with on the partner portal.

If that surprises you, it shouldn’t. As a business, you also prefer doing business with vendors that make it easy to work with them – even if a particular vendor happens to not be the least expensive. Speed and ease of use have costs, and value is comprised of many components. Treat your indirect channel partners to the same benefits of doing business that you want from vendors you conduct business with. Call it the “Golden Rule” of business.

Your PRM portal is the door to your business, so don’t make your indirect channel partners jimmy open a window and climb through. There aren’t enough chochkies and overrides in the world to sustain that behavior.

Make Guests Feel at Home

Once inside, a world-class, purpose-designed PRM has to satisfy a growing number of channel partner needs, even a short list of which must address the following basic needs:

  • Partner sales enablement
  • Deal registration
  • POS solutions
  • Lead management and distribution
  • Channel marketing and management
  • Social recruitment
  • Channel incentives management
  • Learning management systems
  • Channel data management

Any DIY or re-purposed CRM would be overwhelmed with just one of these. Leave these basic needs wanting in the eyes of your channel partners at your own peril. It isn’t like they are without options or alternatives. They have needs and are motivated to satisfy them. More to the point, your competitors are in a race with you to meet those needs and reap the benefits.

PRM as Needs Be

Moving beyond human basic needs, Maslow describes psychological needs, including belongingness, esteem and, ultimately, self-actualization, as the ability of one to realize their full potential. Your channel partners, while not necessarily expressing it so, want peace of mind that comes with seeing results proportional to their efforts, in realizing their full potential.

Your choice in a PRM should be driven by which one has the proven capabilities to reduce friction points and provide the kind of comprehensive tool set that makes doing business with you not just sticky, but irresistible, to use a consumer space term.

We all have needs and are motivated in various ways to satisfy them. Make no mistake about it, a channel partner’s decision to partner with you satisfies a need, but it also is an investment decision, one that is never taken lightly and that occurs in a world of suppliers increasingly vying for attention. Satisfying their needs requires taking the uncertainty out of that decision by offering them a world-class PRM.


This article was originally published in the January/February edition of Channel Vision Magazine: http://www.channelvisionmag.com/cv_editions/Jan-Feb-17/#60/z

Channel Ready? Read Impartner’s Ultimate Field Guide to Starting a Channel to Find Out

The lure of starting a channel is an easy one to understand: indirect channels are an instant multiplier of a company’s “feet on the street” to drive dramatic revenue growth. This lure is stronger than ever with today’s new crop of fast-growing SaaS companies, who are struggling to find enterprise sales talent and at the same time keep up with the explosive growth trajectories most investment groups have come to expect.

As tempting as starting a channel is, however, the path can be a treacherous one and requires careful analysis to know if your business is ready, how to get started and best practices for success.

At Impartner, as companies evaluate our Partner Relationship Management (PRM) technologies, we talk to thousands of channel teams a year, many of whom are only just thinking about starting a channel.

To help evaluate the opportunity, we’ve partnered with leading channel strategist Theresa Caragol, president of TCC Consulting to create the Ultimate Field Guide to Starting a Channel. She’s been there and done that with top corporations from IBM to Extreme Networks and sits on the board of leading channel organizations and media outlets and her experience shines through with years of experience in bringing channels to life.

What this guide is not, is a light list of bullet points, but rather, is a meaty, comprehensive, in-depth guide to truly helping companies evaluate the channel opportunity for their business and get started if indeed the analysis shows the opportunity looks solid.

So, click here to download your complimentary copy, grab your favorite giant mug of something warm, and immerse yourself in this instructive guide on how to make sure your company is thinking of moving into the channel for the right reasons, you are taking the appropriate steps, and you’re deploying the right initiatives early on to ensure long-term sustainable success.

Where in the World Are Your Partners?

In the past year, a wave of next generation “Where’s Waldo” style games have swept the internet – challenging users to find everything from hidden snowmen to pandas. It’s a great way to idle away a few moments and a fun diversion.

Unfortunately, that experience is similar to the one that many companies are creating for their network of partners – causing frustration and leaving time and money on the table for everyone. Many of today’s partner locator functions only give partners visibility based on a limited number of aspects, such as the products they sell and the where they’re based geographically. Partners are lost in a sea of companies that all essentially “look the same.”

At Impartner, we know that’s not enough. We know that there are a multitude of different attributes that make partners critically different from another – and that making those differences visible makes it much more likely the connection will drive a sale. When end users are making a buying decision and can not only see a partner’s geography but also the verticals they serve and other specifics about their specializations, a “Tinder” experience becomes more like “Match.com” and much better relationships are created. Swiping right or left is simply no longer enough to make sure one business can truly meet the needs of another.

That visibility, is what has continually made Impartner Locator one of our most popular modules. Companies like National Instruments have deployed Impartner Locator to provide unprecedented detail to end users, and their partner locator now has over a quarter million unique page views a year. The company’s channel lead says, “We now have partners soliciting customer reviews and competing to be higher on the program level so they can show up higher on the locator and get more leads—so it's our self-fulling prophecy. Our locator really helped our partners be more visible and created an energy in the marketplace that's drawing new partners from places we didn't expect.”

That need to put a face on partner’s businesses is why we’re so excited about our launch this week of Impartner Locator for Salesforce Community Cloud users, giving them the same visibility which has made Locator one of Impartner’s most popular add-on modules. Impartner Locator easily configures with Salesforce Community Cloud and allows both vendors and partners to configure the searchability of partners by any attribute or field in Salesforce. Results display in both a list and an interactive map and features the ability for partners to personalize their listings with multimedia and even customer reviews, which can serve as a landing page for smaller partners without robust sites.

So, if you’re a Communities user and are heading into 2017 looking for ways to accelerate your channel revenue – make giving your partners unprecedented visibility. National Instruments doubled its channel revenue and increased its channel program note promoter score by 30 percent – and the visibility they provide to their partner is a big part of that.

Check out Impartner Locator for Salesforce Community Cloud on the AppExchange.

Time to Make Your New Year’s Revenution

The season of higher goal setting, increasing quotas and the pressure to do more is upon us.

With nearly 80 percent of all business revenue flowing through the indirect channel, Channel Chiefs are on the front lines to drive their operations and deliver more.  Naturally, everyone wants to come out of the gate strong in the new year and not only meet but surpass their goals.

Unfortunately, the plans most companies make to accelerate their channels only result in incremental year-over-year growth and don’t result in the dramatic step change in revenue they’re looking for.  No amount of tweaking and switching partner program parameters has as much power to completely transform the performance of your channel in 2017 than making this one key decision:

            “Buying a contemporary, out of the box, SaaS based PRM.”

Why is this THE key decision that has more power than nearly any other change you can make to your channel operations this year to accelerate your revenue?  Consider these four stats to help your team avoid fence-sitting when it comes to the PRM buying decision – and make them want to run to the PRM store:

1.      86 percent of partners make their decision on whether or not to partner with a vendor, based on their Partner Portal.1

a.      Your Partner Portal crystalizes how contemporary the experience and tools are that you are going to offer potential partners.  If you’re not offering a world-class experience, potential partners will move onto a company that does.

2.      The ceiling for being able to scale your partner program without a PRM is 50 partners.2

a.      Spreadsheets and email can only take you so far.  If you don’t automate, beyond 50 partners you really won’t be able to scale and you’ll top out.*

3.      For every $1 you invest in a PRM, you save $10 in manual labor costs.3

·        Your CFO will love you, because everyone wants growth without adding headcount. Ultimately, you can’t effectively pour enough bodies on a program to scale it as effectively as you can with automation.

4.      The average company with a contemporary PRM, generates an incremental $9M in incremental channel sales – a YEAR.4

·        Every month and every quarter that you run your channel without a contemporary PRM, you are leaving SERIOUS money on the table, and your competitors who have one will run revenue circles around you.  In the scheme of things, PRM is a TINY price to pay for tremendous returns. National Instruments, for example, saw a 120% increase in their channel revenue after implementing their new PRM solution. Check out the case study here.

 

You might think it’s too late to make any kind of major difference in Q1 – but it’s not.  With Impartner PRM, our SaaS solution can be out of the box and have you up and running with a new Partner Portal in as few as 30 days.  Click here to watch more case studies to see how Impartner has helped transform channel programs for world leading corporations like LogRhythm and A10 Networks and learn why we’re the most highly awarded PRM solution in the world.

Ready to start your New Year’s Revenution now?  Click here for a demo.