What role does a partner account manager (PAM) play in partner success? Depending on whether you ask that question of a vendor or a partner, you may find yourself getting two wildly different answers. While vendors reported PAM roles garner the most value from pipeline development, forecasting and business planning, most solution providers reported they saw the most value coming from PAMs through marketing, partner-to-partner coordination and technical training.
Now, technical training is a tough one—we see that blip on the screen as a call for more field resources in whatever form the vendor’s willing to offer them, so long as it helps the provider reduce their vendor relationship overhead. Meanwhile, pipeline development and forecasting stands as the other outlier is on the vendor’s side. In this day and age of sales force automation and easy-to-use business analytics, eating up valuable staff resources on something that could be accomplished through better technical tools seems wasteful. Continue reading →
By Megha Suryawanshi, Business Development Specialist
You’re looking to automate your partner program. You want processes that will make your life easier as a channel marketing manager or channel sales manager. You need systems like Deal Registration, MDF, Training, Content Management etc. Where do you start? Here are few questions to help get you on the right track.
1. What functionality do I need?
Automation solutions come with various capabilities like Content Management, Enrollment, Deal Registration, MDF, Directory etc. It’s important to narrow down both what functionality you need and when you need it. The system you choose should support a phased approach. Most partner programs need Content Management and Deal Registration as soon as they launch. Enrollment and Training are often the next step in the process of automating a channel program while MDF, Directory, Rewards and Rebates are typically in the final stage. Don’t get stuck buying a solution that offers more functionality than you need right now. Buy what you need when you need it. Continue reading →
While cloud is clearly a priority in 2013, it is only one part of the partnership puzzle. General enablement activities edged up in significance this year, with technical skills enhancement creeping its way up to the number three slot this year.
As partners weigh their enablement activities against the channel value proposition we discussed in Pathway #3, the trend of partner specialization quickly bubbles up as a way many vendors are helping to hone partner skill sets without putting undue requirement burdens on the partner base.
Increasingly partners are launching side-programs or specialization programs within their partner programs that are focused on either technical specializations, service specializations, cloud specializations or vertical specializations. Continue reading →
When PartnerPath examined partner and vendor attitudes about the role of distribution in the channel ecosystem, the unanimous agreement was that distributors still play a valuable role in working with both parties. The problem is there was little else about distribution that each party could conclusively agree on. In fact, if you compare the answers partners and vendors gave to the question ‘Where are you leveraging distribution’ there was only one overlapping activity that made it in each respondent pool’s top five list: sales support. While vendors are pouring money and effort into other things like marketing activities, partner recruitment, communications and credit/finance work, partners are looking to distributors for help with enrollment into vendor programs, sales training, technical training and technical support. Continue reading →
New, but Improved?…
By Diane Krakora, CEO
Well, it seems the “new enablement” of channel partners is kind of like the old enablement, just more complex. I realize that doesn’t sound like good news. Sorry, that’s the feedback we got from our Channel Executive Roundtable today. We had some of the brightest channel minds from some of the top companies – Citrix, Dell, IBM, SAP – to name a few – to pontificate about partner enablement. Alas, even with an open and honest dialog among an elite group, we didn’t come away with a silver bullet. Drat.
Although consensus was lacking on most themes, we did have a quorum around three topics:
Timing is everything for recruiting. To effectively enable a partner and get them trained and selling in a concise period of time (varies depending upon the complexity of your products), they need to be receptive to your message. There was an active dialog as to how to identify and profile receptive partners – those that can act on a decision to partner. Interestingly enough, it seems fall recruitment efforts…seriously, like in September…produce a higher return. Go figure.
In or out. If partners aren’t “enabled” – which was mostly described as producing a consistent revenue stream – within a defined period of time (which seemed to be about a year), they would find themselves demoted back to the “registered” level. It sounds harsh, but makes sense, as every partner draws resources from you. One company had the intriguing idea of booting partners even from the lowly “registered” level if they weren’t engaged in sales or education programs in a two year period. No pulse at all – no program benefits.
No standard for a PAM. The Partner Account Managers in about half the attendees’ companies are responsible for enablement. The other half have dedicated “partner development” resources. We recognized (begrudgingly) that there is no standard for the role, responsibilities, performance metrics or qualifications of a successful partner manager. In fact, we couldn’t even agree on what they should be called: Partner Business Managers, Channel Account Managers, Channel Sales Representative, etc. Everybody had a different name, a different set of responsibilities and a different training program for this position. We did agree that this stinks and we need an industry standard. Hummmm. I think we’ll fix that.
Thoughts on the new enablement of partnering? We’d love to hear from you.
While channel executives’ heads have been in the cloud for several years now, 2013 marks a shift as cloud moves to the top priority for partner enablement activities. Looking at the list of skills vendors perceive as the biggest candidates for improvements within partner proficiencies, selling and marketing cloud solutions slid up from position three to one from 2012 to 2013. The question is how ready are vendors to measure and reward that proficiency? Continue reading →
Connect Partners For Cloud Solutions
One of the unique aspects of the cloud ecosystem is the increasing reliance on partner cooperation with one another in order to capably service customers. Vendors need healthy partners to connect in a cloud market because it is such a burgeoning market that few out there really know how to deliver consistently. Everyone is fumbling in the dark together. Continue reading →
Unfortunately, even vendors that have taken the time to examine partner roles and made the investment to develop comprehensive cloud channel plans have reaped only limited ROI from their efforts. The truth is with cloud if you build it the partners won’t automatically come.
The partner program elements required to re-center vendor relationships around cloud are just the table stakes for organizations seeking to boost cloud revenue through partners. On top of that, vendors have to find a way to facilitate partners’ transition and to show partners why it makes sense for their business to care about the cloud model. How can partners be expected to go through the painful transition if they can’t see the upside of all that hard work? Continue reading →
There was a time when everyone was concerned as business became global to make sure we didn’t treat business like the Hasse principle, the mathematical idea that the global structure of an object can be inferred from the local structure. The guiding principle of the late 80’s was “Think Globally, Act Locally.” But more and more of the global partner conferences I attend feel like we are forcing EVERYONE to ACT globally. Continue reading →