The Collaboration Conundrum

October 16, 2007 at 1:24 am Leave a comment

At the core of every partner relationship is one key element: collaboration. Whether it’s collaborating on development, sales, marketing, support or all of the above- the ability to collaborate effectively is what truly drives the success of a partner relationship. Our role as a partner development consultancy is to work with clients on improving their collaboration with partners through program design and development, skills training and last, but certainly not least in order of importance, technology. Automating the process of collaborating with partners is a code that has yet to be cracked. Many are certainly trying, through PRM suites, point solutions and networking technologies, but none seem to address what is at the essence of this “collaboration conundrum.”

The biggest disconnect we see in partnering technologies today is their lack of focus on the partner. No one seems to appreciate the tremendous challenge that individual partners face in learning the dozens, if not hundreds, of both home grown and packaged solutions they are forced to use in order to do business with vendors. Logging into a vendor’s portal is at best a necessary evil of doing business with them and at worst, a complete waste of a partner’s time. The more hoops they are forced to jump through (think multiple log-ins) and the more investment they are forced to make, the less they want to deal with it. Take, for example, the discussion at SalesForce.com’s recent DreamForce event on their “Salesforce Network” which they are currently piloting to a handful of clients. The system gives vendors and their partners the ability to collectively distribute (or push) leads as well as register them through one shared system. It seems like a great concept but the deal breaker for many is that all those involved have to have SalesForce.com licenses. Current estimates quoted at the event put the number of solution providers using SalesForce at a mere 4-20%. Research is being done with IDC and CRN currently to more narrowly identify that figure but in any case, it certainly is not yet a standard in the solution provider community. So again, while this scenario certainly seems beneficial to the vendor, it is the partner who is left conforming and making additional investments in order to reap the benefits.

6 Steps to Building an Effective Partner Portal

Organizations need to be more “partner-centric” in their program automation strategies. After all, it is for the partner that these tools are deployed: to collaborate and communicate information to and with them. This lack of focus on the partner in their automation strategy is the key reason that so many companies end up with under-utilized partner portals which are theoretically the gateways to engagement, support, collaboration, assessment and management of partner relationships. At a minimum you should be providing 3 things to partners in your portal if you want them to continually utilize them and realize value for themselves and your bottom and top lines:

1. The ability to access all the systems they need to do business with you via one access point: that means no multiple log-ins.

2. An intuitive application that requires no monetary or training investment on their part.

3. Information that is current and relevant to their role in their business and yours.

Our PartnerPath solutions have been built on these key principles, making you easy to do business with. By providing one central log-in to all resources and tools, a consistent and easy-to-use interface that enables you and your partners to share information and requests, we have stayed focused on the partner’s experience. When the collaboration channel flows freely, you get the accurate and timely information you need to grow your business and keep your partners engaged, productive, profitable and satisfied.

To share with us where you are experiencing the biggest challenges in automating your partner program operations, please comment and we will share and comment replies in future BLOG posts and newsletters.

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Entry filed under: Partnering Tips.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Partner-to-Partner Ecosystems Oh, the People You Meet! (When you actually leave the office)

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