Which does your automation system provide?
Lately there has been a lot of talk about automation. Setting up systems to do things without human intervention has become a popular notion in a number of different areas of IT and beyond. But when it comes to managing channel partner relationships – how is automation best leveraged?
That’s the topic of our latest webinar, which I had the pleasure of debating with Scott Salkin, founder and CEO of Allbound, a software platform for managing partners and programs. Much of our discussion revolved around results from our 2017 State of Partnering study, which shows 80 percent of partner interaction happens through vendors’ systems, it’s imperative the experience they have with those systems is a good one.
In today’s solution-centric environment, where customers are demanding a full solution to their business needs, partners deliver that solution. The channel partners are held responsible by the end customer for producing business outcomes through the effective use of technology products. Partners today own the customer relationship, which tips the balance of power in the vendor/solution provider ecosystem towards the partner. That’s why the it is so important for vendors to provide an excellent partner experience. The better the partner experience with an IT vendor, the more engagement. And engagement drives sales.
“The role of partners is changing when it comes to revenue,” Scott said. “These days, more critical to partnerships are metrics such as annual recurring revenue, monthly recurring revenue, customer success and renewals. It’s a sign of the times in terms of where revenue is going and how it is being defined these days.”
To be able to manage these metrics, partners need information. Not just reports, however; they want actionable intelligence to help be successful delivering results to their customers. The problem is, most vendors can’t provide the information—or the data is in disparate systems that don’t offer the ability to manage the data and present it in a way that helps the partner.
“Folks want information to understand,” Scott said. “Providing actionable data is more valuable than just information—automatically providing them with information on what they can do next. That’s so much more valuable.” Integrated systems can automatically generate reports and valuable road maps for channel partners to see where they are, what they’ve done and what they need to do to move forward. Our study showed almost 40 percent of vendors report using several disparate systems.
Obviously, vendors understand the need for partner measurements, metrics and intelligence. Yet, more than 35 percent of vendors from our State of Partnering study said overall, they spend less than 1 percent of their budgets on systems.
Some of the reticence to spend more may lie in the fact that traditional PRM systems are considered expensive for what they produce. Spending more just isn’t high on their list of priorities.
“Partner automation solutions must be focused around empowering and communication—those low-level activities to drive engagement so you can spend more time on high-level high-touch activities to help drive sales,” Scott said.
Want more on ways automation can affect the partner experience? Take a look at the complete report and let us know what you think.