For the better part of a year now, I’ve been banging the drum about partner experience. Much of that is because of what we’re seeing among partner ranks—an evolution into true “solution providers” as they address customer needs with a more solution-centric rather than vendor-centric approach.
Vendors, meanwhile, now find themselves working doubly hard to remain relevant to this new breed of partner. Where it once didn’t matter as much how easy it was—or not—for channel partners to access sales tools, for example, today vendors are being judged by their partners on this and other seemingly innocuous metrics.
It all adds up to the partner experience. And it’s becoming more important with each passing day. The better a partner’s experience is with a vendor, the more likely that partner will engage more with that vendor. And more engagements lead (hopefully) to more sales.
Indeed, in this year’s PartnerPath State of Partnering study on the 6 Pillars of Partner Experience found that channel partners ranked the performance metrics of partner customer satisfaction first, partner experience second and partner profitability as the third preference for vendors measuring partner success.
We also asked vendors whether they measure customer satisfaction with partners. The results: 31 percent said they systematically measure, and 28 percent had no idea whether end customers are happy with their partners. Results were similar when asked whether they measure partner experience. Thirty-three percent of vendors surveyed said they regularly measure their partner experience, while 20 percent had no idea what their partner experience was—not even a feeling for what it might be.
The third and final metric partners believe is most important to their overall experience, profitability, is more rigorously scrutinized by vendors who were growing tired of hearing from partners that they weren’t making any money from their offerings. Of those taking part in the survey, 37 percent of vendors said they regularly measure partner profitability, and again, 20 percent said they don’t measure and don’t have any feeling whether their partners are profitable.
If you as a vendor are not actively measuring your partners’ experience with you in terms of how they are engaging with you, you will be soon. In fact, that experience may be the most important metric they measure you by, as they gain even more control over the customer and their relationship with their vendor base.
Vendors, therefore, will need to move even beyond the three metrics deemed important by their channel partners and engage a more predictive approach using big data and analytics. We believe what a partner will do or is capable of doing can be predicted. It all starts with data.
In our recent webinar, “3 Methods to Measure Partner Performance,” my guest Vincent Brissot, head of Channel Marketing and Operations at HP, shared that HP already has begun down that path. They’ve created a recommendation engine for partners on its Sales Central portal that suggests marketing collateral, how-to videos and other relevant information based on who the partner is, what the partner sells and what other partners are utilizing that can be of benefit. For example, a partner that has registered a deal for 3D printers can use the recommendation engine to find case studies, white papers, customer testimonials and other information that is most relevant based on the location of the deal, the vertical industry of the customer and other data.
“We’re removing inefficiencies by pushing the information we know works based on the feedback from other partners,” Vincent said. In 2018, HP plans to increase the engine’s efficiency through a chatbot partners can use to find relevant information even more easily.
At the end of the day, vendors are being judged and measured by the actions they take and whether those actions are to the benefit or detriment of its partners. As roles change and partners take control of the customer relationship, ensuring a positive partner experience can be the biggest challenge vendors face. And to the victor will most definitely belong the spoils.
Watch the replay of the webinar: