What keeps your channel partners up at night?
Follow me as I blog my way through my book: 99 Questions to Jump Start Your Partner Channel Brain
I’ll make a wager you don’t really know. Sure, you may “think” you know, but have you confirmed it? And if you have, in what ways have you incorporated this understanding into your internal communications and channel training materials?
In most cases, the companies we work with are NOT the top dog on the Channel Partner’s line card. Where the main product or service line may bring in 60-80% of the total revenue, our clients are in the smaller percentage (like less than 5% of the Channel Partner’s top line).
So for our clients, the things that keep their Channel Partners up at night have nothing to do with them!
I suppose that’s a blessing and a curse. We’re not causing any worry. On the other hand, we have little to no mindshare. The Partner has many, many other things on their minds.
The worry list
When you crawl inside the head of a Partner you’ll find they spend a lot of time thinking about their principle lines. Executives and owners fret about inventory levels, hitting quota, satisfying the requirements for staff certifications and licenses, promotions, territory coverage, competitive lines (on the line card) as well as competitors in the marketplace. The worry list for your Channel Partners is probably different, but the point I’m making is that you ought to know.
Because you’ve got to find a way to leverage your standout products as a way to solve these pain points for your Partners. Yeah, you’ve got to be the aspirin.
Being the enabler
For example, let’s assume you provide a nifty voice and internet backup solution (aka automatic voice and data fail-over). When local lines go down, your product instantly bypasses the failed circuits and moves all the traffic onto a satellite or mobile network.
The problem is, your product is the equivalent of selling insurance. Big companies already have bypass installed using their own private VSAT (or equivalent). Your market is the SMB market. The same market segment served by your Channel Partners whose principle line is Cisco.
Now if we lived in a perfect world—where logic prevails and people buy products purely on a rational basis—you’d be all set. After all, you’ve got “intelligent choice.” (btw, no one lives in this perfect world beside professors who write marketing textbooks and entrepreneurs when they’re writing the first draft of their business plans. And if your tagline is that you’re the intelligent choice, you might want to think that one over again…).
What you need to do is find a way to demonstrate how sales of your product drives sales of your Channel Partner’s network gear… which just so happens to be where 65% of the Partner’s revenue comes from. Do that and you’re golden.
Now, this is just a high-level example I completely fabricated. But hopefully you can get your Channel Marketing team to sit down for a few minutes and start thinking about the REAL pain-points and how you can be the aspirin.