There is no defined formula for chalking out the perfect partner program. Rather, it is a jumble of tools and tricks that you refine as you address the changing market dynamics and partner requirements. While the basic ingredients remain marketing and sales support, incentives and rewards, deal registration etc, everyone has a different approach when creating their partner program.
Ultimately, the goal is to render adequate support for partners to develop a profitable channel by enabling them with the right tools, knowledge and information to act as an advocate for your product, technology or brand. And that is what a partner program should be all about.
Pivot3 prides itself on its partner program. The company daily updates its Program and Partner Portal with new content and information for the channel to utilise. “Our partner program is professional, streamlined and easy to navigate, offering our partners the tools to accelerate their sales and out-position the competition, along with some very attainable incentives. The most recent enhancement to our partner portal is a social media sharing platform and Training Certification,” explains Carly Stephens, Marketing Manager EMEA, Pivot3.
As new technologies emerge and market players continue to innovate and develop new solutions, it is important that their partner program also evolves. Taking cue from this philosophy, Juniper Networks’ Partner Advantage Program is designed to exploit and benefit from opportunities in key markets such as cloud, security and data center, thereby enabling partners to tap into new growth avenues.
“We’re also placing greater emphasis on addressing market opportunities through partner specializations that are based on emerging trends such as security, data center, software development, etc. In doing so, partners can build modular options to tailor their program to their specific business models. These enhancements will ultimately help partners deliver best-in-class solutions tailored to the end user’s needs, build strong revenue growth and reward them as they invest, innovate and grow with Juniper,” adds Kristian Kerr, Head of Channel, Alliances and Commercial for EMEA, Juniper Networks.
The BeyondTrust Program offers a range of benefits including deal registration, marketing support and MDF eligibility, partner incentives and promotions with access to online training and certifications. Also, with its online instructor-led classroom, BeyondTrust University, the company has made the certification process easier and more accessible, further enabling its partners.
Another key component of building a partner program is to maintain open line of conversation with partners in order to be able to make the required changes or additions to the program.
“We have recently made some very relevant changes to our partner portal, making it easier for partners to access and drive full benefits. Today our revamped partner portal not only offers marketing tools but also features like events in a box, social media support, direct mail, etc. that partners can integrate into their own marketing activities,” says John Hathaway, Regional Sales Manager Middle East, BeyondTrust.
Hathaway adds the company’s choice of partners is not by mere chance but a carefully designed process depending on how and where we want to sell our products, the markets the partners are present in. “This further ensures that our partners are not competing among themselves,” he adds.
“For us, before on-boarding a partner a crucial step is identifying market opportunities and the prospective partner’s core skills. This in turn helps us in understanding on their potential learning needs and skill gaps. We take all this insight into the partner program and for us this is a differentiating factor as well,” says Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channel, Epicor Software.
Today customers are looking for partners with domain knowledge that can deliver solutions to support business requirements. Kerr goes on to add that skills in security, data centre, DevOps and Software Networking are key for partners looking to advance in today’s environment. Cloud integration skills and capabilities are in high demand as customers build out multi-cloud environments.
HCI remains a very competitive market and for partners to stand out from the competition there is a constant need for differentiating solutions. This enables them to not only expand their portfolio but also increase business value. This further calls for in-depth knowledge of the technology and keen understanding of its benefits to the customers. “For this very reason, Pivot3 provides its partners with all the tools necessary to become proficient in communicating benefits in terms of adoption, deployment and how to best optimize their customer environments,” adds Stephens.
Partners act as an extended arm for the vendors and equipping them with the right tools and support, only results in a mutually beneficial relationship. In addition to this, there is also a dire need for attractive incentive options that can add to a partner’s profitability. Juniper rewards partners for identifying new opportunities, showcasing their expertise, and closing a higher number of deals quickly. According to Kerr, such rewarding activities helps partners better monetize their most important asset—value add—and in so doing, improve their bottom line.
Transcend values its partner community and has deep roots in the regional market. With a large product portfolio to offer, the company works with specialized partners catering to different channel bases.
“For our commodity products, such as flash drives, portable HDD, flash cards, we work with partners with good efficiency in terms of finance and logistic enabling, capable of doing volume business in most emerging countries. For niche products, such as dashboard camera (dash cam) and body camera, we aim at partners who have worked with existing specializing channel or projects,” explains Oliver Lin, Head of Africa continent, Transcend Information.
Lin adds that after sales services remain a top priority for the company and they expect no less from their partners. On their part, Transcend offers additional marketing and technical support to help partners maximize profit in their business.
Lin finds prices of consumer goods to be the main challenge since it directly affects the kind of margins partners can enjoy. The company’s CEO, Peter Su foresaw the challenge in the flash industry which is why Transcend opened its embedded business division for industrial applications of Transcend products and offer partners with new product line and in turn new revenue streams.
For a partner program to work, it is important to select the right partners that have the right skills, reach and capabilities to present and finally sell the product to market. Educating partners also goes a long way in ensuring a successful partner program. Working closely with distributors, it is imperative that vendors support their partners at every stage of the sales cycle. For sure, there is no perfect program. It is, however, possible to build a strong one that maximizes partners’ selling power, translating into business growth and ultimately better margins.