Channel Complexity – Vendor/Partner Marriage Counseling

September 15, 2009 at 1:15 am 1 comment

By Beth Vanni – Director, Market Intelligencebvanni-print

When psychologists ask most married couples about what creates conflict in their marriage, there is often a classic gender gap in perceptions.  Women will often talk about lack of sharing, communication and having joint goals — those long-term things in a marriage that create meaningful bonds.  Men will often talk about arguments over money and not enough physical intimacy (OK, sex).   The day to day “glue” of a marriage that keep the wheels on the bus.   Not that I’m trying to indict the male species, but this classic gender-based delta in needs feels much like the results from our recent research study focused on Channel Complexity.   Let me explain ….

The goal of our research was to identify what areas of channel programs and processes caused partners the most cost, wasted time and generally infuriated partners  about their leading vendor’s programs.  We then compared those responses to the vendor’s own perception of where they felt they could improve in their ease-of-doing-business quotients.   The results were fascinating – much like a marriage counseling session.   Beyond the one resoundingly common complexity issue of managing training and certification requirements, the wish list of things to simplify seemed quite divergent.

Partners want their leading vendors to focus on basic communication processes.  They want better advance notice on new products and programs.   They need easier access to basic product information and features and specs.   Also on their list was easier management of discounting and price lists.   In fact, partners ranked access to product configurations and clear and consistent discounting information as two of the top complexity issues impacting their ability to service their customers.   Now, for anyone who’s been around the channel for a while, none of these issues are new.  I daresay, they’re ridiculously basic and decades-old.  But, they clearly represent the basic, tactical, bread-and-water type of issues  that can make or break a vendor/partner relationship on a daily basis.  Pardon the crudeness of the analogy, but think of them as the “male” type priorities of the channel process world.

Conversely, our vendor respondents have been focused on building out their partner portals, improving coordination with their direct sales teams and making lead generation and distribution processes simpler.  These are all important support activities for healthy channel selling and ones that many partners would stand up and cheer about.  But, we found it interesting that many would consider these issues to be more long-term and focused on the synergy brought by vendor/partner co-selling and co-marketing.   These are higher-level channel aspirations, for sure.  But, these are well beyond the visceral day-to-day needs of getting the right product information, the right price and at the right time to be able to act on it in a proactive, market-sensitive way.

Vendors are clearly more aware of the needs of their solution provider “mates” today than they were a decade ago.  And, clearly a combination of tactical fixes via automation combined with long-term fixes through overall business process change is required to be a truly “channel centric” company.  It will be interesting to see how the tactical versus strategic fixes get worked through in the next 1-3 years.   And how much complexity solution providers will be willing to suffer through, especially in this economy, until their vendors  see the simplicity light.  Maybe the stuff for some good channel counselors .. errhh  consultants :).

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Entry filed under: Industry Perspective, Partnering Tips. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Partner Portal  |  May 6, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Great blog post about Partner Portal. A lot of people doesn’t know about this things and how this can help their business grow. Some hate it because it is tracked and owners can really see your sales and statistics.

    Reply

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