Convey MicroCast Series
This is Carolyn Bradfield and you’re listening to the Convey MicroCast audio series.
This week is our Halloween MicroCast series and we gave Freddy Krueger a shout out in our first episode, the Nightmare on Channel Street. We identified nightmares in the channel that keep you up at night, can ruin your channel program and destroy your revenue. Today we’re going to focus on the “Invasion of the Sales Partner Snatchers.
You used to go to Channel Partners in Vegas and there were thousands of partners wandering through the exhibit hall or attended regional meetings. Then, all of a sudden, the invasion of the partner snatchers descended on the channel and one by one those partners started disappearing snatched away and gone forever.
If pods from outer space didn’t spirit partners away, then where did they go? The answer is complicated. People became agents years ago because they may have been in a company’s telecom department, then decided to branch out and start their own business. Many of these partners are now aging out, retiring, or just not active and they are being replaced by new partner models that may not be so obvious to you. So, what are vendors and master agents to do so they don’t experience the nightmare of the disappearing partner on Channel Street? Here are some thoughts:
Diversify your partner base.
If the only type of sales partner you have focused on is the telecommunications agent, you are missing a variety of other partner types that have the right customer base not only for network services, but for cloud and business as a service. And you may be putting your channel program at risk as your traditional partner base shrinks. Think about including managed services providers, value added resellers and IT service providers. After you do that, look around and consider less traditional partners that are calling on accounts with non-technology-based services.
Here is an example. The other day I ate lunch with an insurance agent who is building a practice around commercial insurance for assisted living facilities. That person would make a great referral partner because those facilities need to upgrade their phone system, move applications to the cloud, use technology to make their buildings smarter, and network their locations together. He’s non-traditional but he’s calling on the right customers in a high-value target market.
Once you diversify it’s important to understand the different type of partner models and how they function.
Let’s take the managed services provider as an example whose business model is different than a telecommunications agent. An MSP owns the customer relationship because they not only manage their IT and network, they also invoice the customer for services rendered. MSPs will often step aside and let the vendor take the lead when it comes to selling services that they don’t have native expertise in, making them an ideal partner who wants a trusted relationship with a master agent or vendor and is willing to make the referral.
It’s also important to learn where the new partner types hang out and plan to go where those partners congregate.
If you expect these different partner types such as an MSP or VAR to haunt the hallways of Channel Partners in Vegas or other telecommunications-oriented events, think again. They will likely be elsewhere. Expand your presence at organizations like ASCII or shows like IT Expo to find other technology-oriented partners.