By Theresa Caragol, AchieveUnite Inc.
As a technology vendor using the Channel for productivity and market reach, have you ever asked, “How do I know if my channel partners are the right ones for my company, the absolute best partners? What should I be doing to strengthen loyalty with my channel partners, loyalty that results in better revenue growth and improvements in end-customer satisfaction? How do I improve technical resource sharing with my channel partners so that we are in close alignment and leverage our critical human assets?”
Armed with these questions (and more), we worked with the University of Glasgow to survey 150 global IT vendors of IT products and services about these probing questions. The purpose was to understand the value elements that create long term sustainable partnerships and revenue growth. Central to the philosophy of this study was the notion of locked-in commitment versus value-based commitment. In locked-commitment, partners stay in a relationship because it would be costly to leave, and they are required to do so. Value-based commitment partnerships are a choice for both companies, and the research demonstrates a strong correlation to this commitment and overall long-term revenue growth, company profitability and sustainable profitable channels.
So, what did we learn? Six key elements emerged.
In addition to the grouping of these factors, we also had fantastic feedback from respondents in prioritizing their importance in overall partner relations. We then organized this valuable data and identified 6 key factors and their hierarchies as they related to the value of lifetime partnerships. Below are those 6 factors, organized by the helpful acronym “ACTIVE”:
Allegiance: This element consists of significance of trust, individual and company integrity, and strong partner commitment & culture. Future planning of active partner strategy and active partner support model are also included.
Commitment & Collaboration: This element includes assisting partner in business growth and development, collaborate on strategic initiatives, and develop joint solutions & mutual IP. Participate in partner conferences and conduct joint industry research & thought leadership are also included.
Training: This element consists of providing post-sales partner training program, provide sales & training program, and proved pre-sales technical training program. Implement formal onboarding process and provide co-selling & effective teaming education program are included as well.
Investment: This element includes resources (partner access to business executives), partner centered solutions investments (hard & soft dollars), partner investment funds, and joint business development plans (simple, accountable, actionable).
Velocity: This element consists of structured process, structured program, partner coverage planning, as well as success stories & case studies.
Engagement: This element includes resources focused on partner experience, partner-to-partner collaboration, and a strong partner experience.
Since we have completed this research, we have had countless conversations with clients and partners about their relationships and priorities; the research proving to be a true comprehensive representation of the success ingredients for long-term partnerships. We also have now built additional business and partnering models for companies to leverage to evaluate their maturity and success in these areas. Each of the six elements of Partner LifeTime Value play a role in partnership success. Integrating these findings and good partnership practices into your company’s policies and mission is essential to maximize partnership potential.