With each new year comes new technologies and business opportunities to capitalize on. As we reflect on an exciting and successful 2016, we remind ourselves how we can better serve you, our partners, in 2017. The following is an internal memo that was sent out across TBI. Please know, we make every effort to do right by you and always have our partners’ businesses best interests at heart.
Think Like a Business Owner and Win
Good reminders to take into the new year.
As a Channel Manager, it is your job to serve as your partners’ point guard and leverage your resources to educate on product sets, emerging technologies and vendors. Additionally, it’s your responsibility to assist in the development of their business plans. Though this seems self-explanatory, it is crucial to understand that not all partners are alike, and helping them grow their businesses is not a turnkey process. You must treat each partner in a unique way, understand their motives and mindsets, and tailor your relationships with them according to their needs.
In order to stay relevant and remain a trusted resource to your partners, you need to understand the maturation process. You have to realize that the way you’ve done things in the past may not work anymore, and as partners’ business needs evolve and grow, you have to change with them to remain a key resource in their success.
Keep the following information in mind, and evaluate initiatives that you’re not seeing success with. If you are seeing success from your strategy, use this information to uncover additional ways you can help your partners win bigger.
What partners expect from their Channel Manager
- Share product sets that are relevant and mutually beneficial to both the partner and the customer.
- Quotes to be completed within the SLA, and Channel Managers to be responsive and transparent in the event there are delays, problems, outstanding questions, etc.
- Work to solve their business problems, and then add more value. Find opportunities they are missing out on and share what needs to be done to capitalize on them. Partners want to be able to bounce ideas off their Channel Managers. Help them decide who to go to for what, and what to do in particular situations.
- Align vendors based on their end users’ verticals and business types. Provide real case studies for relevancy to remain credible and trustworthy.
- Focus on benefits and business outcomes of technology, not features.
What does a partner look for in product sets?
Before bringing information to your partner about a new product, ensure that you understand the product, why it matters, and how it applies to their business. Share information that they can use; focus on why it’s relevant to their marketplace and inform them of what they need to tell their customers about the product (what questions to ask, possible business outcomes, etc.). With the consolidation of product sets, partners want to easily find out how they can help their customers, what changes were made and how to communicate that internally and externally.
New technology adoption
Traditional partners may be slow to adopt newer technologies. Continue to understand how your partner has previously built their business and identify ways to expand. Change your messaging to get them to understand the need to adapt – how it will ultimately affect their bottom line, how it helps particular customer situations, and how it can improve prospecting and new business. Continue to use probing questions to help identify where your partners’ interests in technology are.
- What are certain pain points do you face with the technologies you currently sell?
- What are customer pain points you’re mostly called upon to solve (ex. security across locations and networks, lowering capital expenditures, outsourcing/managed services, storage and backup, mobility, cloud services, network management, etc.)?
- What vertical segments are you most focused on and what are you doing to discuss necessary compliance with your customers?
- What backup solutions are you currently recommending – traditional forms or a more future-proofed solution allowing customers to manage on their own?
- What is your current mix of traditional telecom services business vs. that of hosted voice solutions?
- What network services do you currently have in place and are customers interested in prioritizing traffic flow?
To further help partners migrate to cloud solutions and adopt newer technologies, provide recommendations based on their personas and motives. Then, provide them with business outcomes to convince them on why they should sell a new solution.
Sell vendors on value, not price
Align with vendors that are going to protect partners’ brands, preach their value and further their agenda. Businesses that are always cognizant of their brand make the best partners because they realize it’s their name on the line with solution recommendations. Continue to position vendors based on your partners’ end users. What are you doing to recommend and position your partner to look as good as possible with their customers?
Asking questions is a great way to refresh relationships with existing partners and create new ones with prospects. Continue to grow with partners (new or more established) by understanding how their customer set has evolved. What verticals are they focused or shifting their focus on and why? Ask them to describe business plans and plans for growth. If they are adding to their staff, in what areas are they hiring?
It’s always important to remember your partners’ motivations. Are they just in the business to make money? Or do they want to grow a legacy and develop people?
Continue to identify your partners’ competence, what they’re selling, and what their skillsets are.
- Tell me what the strengths of your business are?
- Why has your business been successful in the last five years?
- What would you do differently if you had the chance to start your business over again?
- Describe your current customer mix.
- What’s your value proposition?
- What sets you apart from your competitors?
- What’s your business plan for the next year? What are your goals?
- How are you currently marketing to your customers?
To further improve your role, lean on partners that are selling to find out what they need from you. Always look for ways to provide insight, recommendations, help, etc. that meets their business goals. The more you think like a business owner, taking into consideration resources and the value of money and time, the more partners will turn to you because you’re proving you have their best interests in mind.
About the Author
Emily Ball is a Marketing Coordinator at TBI. She supports strategic programs to cultivate leads, enhance agent and service provider relationships, and help propel sales. You can contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with Emily on LinkedIn.