Mid-Year Check: Channel Development Goals for 2010

August 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

Beth Vanni – Director, Market Intelligence

Where has the time gone? It’s the end of July already and with many company’s fiscal year’s more than half-way over, it’s a great time to sanity check progress toward your channel development goals for the year.  We reflect here on what many of you have told us were your priorities and key initiatives for 2010 in our Annual State of Partnering Study.

  1. Taking inventory: Many vendors (62%) said they would recruiting new channel partners this year. And nearly half (48%) said this year was critical for establishing a clearer coverage and capacity plan. Partner profiling and selective recruitment is obviously an iterative process for many manufacturers.  But, as the new breed of MSPs, carriers and service providers, SaaS developers and SI’s emerging, having a really clearly defined market coverage plan is more important than ever.  Are you looking at your channel program with an eye toward filtering your partners based on roles versus tracks? Think verbs (partners who influence, resell, architect, sell or service) versus nouns (SI’s, VARs, OEMs, ISVs).
  2. Improving sales skills. With technical training and certification programs now the mainstay of many vendors’ channel programs, sales acumen is back in vogue. Without effective prospecting and pre-sales skills, investing in deep technical skills is like putting on armor and never going to the battleground. Many vendors have expressed their renewed need for partners to actively prospect and evangelize their technologies, especially as everyone looks for economic turnaround and renewed customer spending. Have you checked recently to understand how effective your sales tools, solution playbooks and sales training content is?  Are you tracking partner revenue relative to how many partner reps have been through sales training or certification? Your deal registration program alone won’t create effective sales prospectors.
  3. Services engagement. The diversity of services-based business models is a blessing and a curse to many channel programs. Is the partner an MSP, an ISV, an SI?  Are they producing applications, repeatable professional services, managed services, or a blend of all three?  Regardless of role or business model, good old fashioned field engagement is the thing to watch when aligning the intended benefits of a headquarters-based channel program with what happens between direct and indirect teams in front of the customer.  Measuring customer satisfaction is a good start, but doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to effective services delivery.  Are you asking your field teams about which partners have applied their technical skills most effectively, or which have the most solid, repeatable methodology?
  4. Channel spending. Many vendors used 2009 to reevaluate every dollar of channel spending.  Few stones were left unturned. But, this is the year to make key investments in channel partners. Some vendors have chosen to spend on very aggressive commissions for new services (up to 100% of contract value), others in deep sales training content and still others in dedicated staffing to help partners with pre-sales work.  Is your fiscal year spending plan getting you the results you expected, either in value and/or volume-based channel performance?  If so, is internal visibility around that fact high enough to allow you to accelerate or course correct?

We expected 2010 to be a year of vendors being both more discriminating about channel spending and performance but also more shrewdly offensive about investing in their channel’s development.  And, it seems to be playing out that way.  Let’s watch and see how the second half unfolds and how channel teams package and position their results internally against expectations.

For more data and analysis on the state of the market right now, download the Executive Brief on our 2010 State of Partnering Study.

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