2011 Partnering Trends: Ease of Doing Business and Partner Sales Skills Emerge as Focus

March 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm 3 comments

The preliminary results are in from our 5th annual State of Partnering vendor research.  This year’s study was the biggest and most comprehensive yet – with over 100 unique global IT vendors participating – and analyzes in detail the plans and priorities of the vendor community, both looking back on 2010 and ahead to 2011.  This year’s early results show a very specific focus on two long-term issues: increasing ease of doing business and increasing partner sales competency.

When looking at their top challenges for 2010, the top issue for vendors (67%) was recruiting the right partners to provide coverage and capabilities in target markets.  This makes sense, given the continual process the vendor community has engaged in of requalifying partners, and refocusing efforts on key industry penetration and providing growth support to top-performing partners.   But, right behind that was the challenge of becoming easier to do business with.  In fact more than a third of respondents indicated this was their top priority again for 2011 (third highest ranked).   It was ranked fourth in overall priorities in last year’s study and third the year before that.   Clearly, this is an issue most larger vendors cannot solve completely in a year or two.

The focus on increasing sales competency has been consistent in our research over the last several years as well.  In last year’s study it emerged for the first time as the #1 vendor priority (for 2010).  So, when it appeared this year as the #1 priority again.

Download the Executive Brief from the study for more insights.


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stuart Armstrong  |  March 31, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Good to see sales productivity ranks no1.

    Older industry manufacturers in automobile, CPG, franchise, consumer goods that rely on dealer channels have 75 years experience in really developing the sales reps of their VAR partners. IT, telecom, ISV vendors are just realizing that adding 2 more VARs on each corner will get them into the same jam as the car dealers.

    It is much easier to add 2 VARs than to train 50 reps to be more effective. Most channel reps with 5-10 years focussed vendor technical knowledge do not have the business or marketing, sales skills to help VAR CEOs with these issues.

    Most Regional vendor channel managers will have a tough time deciding between 1) adding more partners OR 2) implementing programs to INCREASE the productivity of the VAR sales reps that collectively drive his regional quota.

    Productivity for a channel manager ranges from miindset loyality to his vendor brand to VAR marketing mgrs and reps executing effective sales processes to find and close NEW business for the vendor.

    Most large vendors implement wide scale programs, portals and frequently anemic leadgen programs that the local VAR channel manager introduces to the VARs as part of doing his or her job.

    Frequently vendors, with 1000s of marketing staff create then bombard VAR reps with 100s of white papers, complex portals, leadgen process, etc. and never drill down to the local reps daily issues. In many cases these center around mundane things such as a lack of a an ACCURATE IDEAL CUSTOMER profile persona description and a LIST of companies that fit that profile, complete with CEO, IT contacts, emails and tel numbers so that the rep can COLD call a few hours per day EFFECTIVELY. I see MANY VARs committing these sins even large telecoms here in Canada with 6,000 employees and 50-100 marketing people where 50% of the reps are NOT making quota year after year. No wonder vendors such as AVAYA, Cisco cant make their quota with these partners, the reps are turning over faster than they can be trained.

    CSO Insights and TAS, Siroius surveys show only 50% of all sales reps in IT, telecom making quota for the LAST 5 YRS.

    20 yrs ago when I worked at DIgital, now HP, ago my VP called this fixem or flush em. Well demand was very strong back then, GDP growing at 5% and few computer companies existed, thus VAR markets and margins were not under threat.

    WIth sales 2.0 concepts, tools and best practices now readlily available vis SaaS and a credit card (ie Jigsaw, Genius, LinkedIN, etc. VAR reps have taken it upon themselves to become more effective.

    With LAR margins at single digit levels and IT growth at 1-2% vendor reps have to learn how to fix individual reps at each VAR and build a productive, loyal following. Teaching a VAR rep HOW to improve their sales productivity will put money into that reps pocket, build profits for his CEO and assure the vendor channel manager he can rely on regular revenues versus signing yet another VAR and diluting margins for all.

    (regards, Stuart, formerly Arrow, Digital, AltosAcer, Westcon, Avaya)

    • 2. Beth Vanni  |  April 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      Awesome comments, Stuart. I totally agree with your sentiments. There iare far too few manufacturers who look at the partners’ sales reps as THEIRS and treat them with (nearly) the same amount of enablement, soft and hard skills training, simple, easily accessible tools, etc. There isn’t enough undertanding of the lifetime value of a loyal and trained rep for the sales and marketing teams of the vendor to align to support their ongoing (not once) needs. It’s a “disposable” sales ecosystem model. So, what’s your current focus and avocation? Are you working to deliver this kind of training to partners?

  • 3. Stuart Armstrong  |  April 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Beth, Thanks.

    Coming from someone at your level with “Global views” of Vendor > Channel > End User dynamics – greatly appreciated.

    My observations are skewed as I did several start-ups in the early days of IT and was able to execute programs “on the fly”. ie. when we opened Arrow Canada or after when I was the only Channel Mgr at Digital without assigned accounts- 100% newbusdev. 9% off list as the VARs first level – yikes!
    (microVAX CPU line).

    (Things are corporate now and programs have to be Global- but some principles still should be verified at the local level IMHO).

    My first DEC ISV/VAR calculated he LOST money to sign up. (but I came back with a Xmas gift, thanks to a chance meeting with a US Channel VP)….

    Channel busdev lesson No1 – always talk to strangers!

    One evening after DIgital training in Boylston, I was in Eagle Beagle Clam “Chaawda” House in Boston. Starting yakking with fellow next to me. He asked “where you do work”. I said “I work at a company- Digital- that has so much IT knowledge they should be 2x the size they are” – unbelievable stuff! (Rainbow PCs excluded). I’m on a 3 week training here: DEC-U.
    My job is to sign new IT dealers, but we are lacking many “business” tools that these dealer OWNERS need to see. But I said the HUGE market demand + these DEC technologies = VAR opportunity. Oh by the way, what do you do?

    “VP Channels Digital”. “I like your enthusiasm, drop me a line when your back in Montreal, we have funding $$ for ISVs/VAR who are selling into NEW vertical markets we have identified” (ie. chainstore/ POS systems).

    I went back to Montreal, went to my ISV/VAR client and he was approved for $250k to PORT his software to VAX/VMS. Digital made him a worldwide ISV into chain stores – MITECH, well known. (SAKs, etc.)

    At the end of dinner my new VP buddy said two ways to succeed in channel; (a bit simplistic, but still works to-day)

    1) Find out what makes the cash register ring all the way from the end user back to DEC’s factory,

    2) DO NOT interfere with a VARs EXISTING run rate $$ business – regardless of how much better you THINK your solutions are- find ways to complement and add value with your NEW unproven solutions- earn the right first before asking for the whole enchalada.(para.)

    Still practice these principles to-day and always ask vendor channel reps I meet at my Collaboration events “how they are adding value to the CEO/shareholders of their VARs. Some get it, some don’t.

    I believe that if you were to analyze the best vendor programs, these basics are being delivered at the LOCAL level by empowered channel managers.



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