Welcome to 2021! Boy am I excited to see the calendar turn over. There’s been so much up and down in the news for the last nine months I can barely keep track. The pandemic that ravaged the world medically and financially also accelerated five of the six buyer trends changing IT channels we predicted back in December 2019:
With all the uncertainty in my country and the world right now, it was comforting to have a consistent message from Cisco during their recent partner summit. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins opened the event with a hopeful message of agility and resilience – skills that have been tested in my household these last eight months. My husband is a commercial airline pilot and for an industry not known for their agility, they’ve moved quickly in altering routes and schedules. Needless to say, our household has tried to embrace both agility and resilience amidst the uncertainty, to varying degrees of success. I’m sure many of you have your own stories of needing to adapt quickly to job, family and life changes.
I talk about recruiting, enabling and managing indirect partners all the time. The goal of 99% of all technology companies is to leverage indirect channels for increased sales reach, market penetration and customer satisfaction. But there has been a shift that greatly affects the traditional channel model and some vendors are feeling the change.
You would be amazed at how many people call us every month to help them with partner recruitment. On the one hand, it's usually companies who see the value in leveraging the channel to grow their business (awesome!). On the other hand, I sometimes think they want me to hand them a top-secret document and say, "Shh, here's the magic list of partners for you. Go call them." But calling a list of partners to recruit them into your program not only wouldn't work, it wouldn't be a good partner experience. And a good first impression once lost is lost forever. You might lose the opportunity to work with some great solution providers. Plus, there's no top-secret list.
Are you culling the herd or protecting vulnerable partners?
In our recent channel chief virtual roundtable event, we discussed the effects of the global pandemic on partnering plans and programs. Accelerated digital transformation ushered in by social distancing practices is driving all ten participants to change some aspect of their channel model. Framework adjustments include new compensation plans, shifting to virtual education platforms, delaying program launches and changing criteria for spending MDF. But the most divergent conversation regarded what to do with small and medium partners who are financially struggling during these uncertain times.
In this month’s PartnerPath Trailblazer Forum, seven participants discussed elements to consider when designing a SaaS partner program. From the attentive and lively discussion, it was clear the elements fall into six buckets – and that each element depends on several factors such as company goals, product complexity, end-customer target, history of channel relationships and overall size of partner ecosystem. Think about these six elements and know that ultimately your SaaS partner program will be unique to your situation. There is no one right answer for how to deal with these elements.
As an extrovert, today’s milestone of one month stuck at home is particularly traumatic. The San Francisco Bay Area was among the first to receive orders to Shelter in Place, and I’m going a little crazy. To distract myself from missing large gatherings (or any gatherings), I’ve been pondering: how is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the solution provider ecosystem and the vendors that rely on indirect channels?
What mistakes are vendors making with their partner ecosystem?
A major data point driving home MAKE FEWER MISTAKES is the list of open-responses from partners* detailing mistakes vendors make as they are engaging a solution provider organization. Direct from partners, the submissions center around three themes again this year:
This month, CEO Diane Krakora attended the Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas. In this short video, listen to her chat about Cisco DevNet, the developer program that delivers APIs, SDKs and sandbox to developers. It's critical that partners have the ability to build solutions and create customer outcomes.
This month, CEO Diane Krakora attended the Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas. On day two, she listened to numerous roundtables where the terms customer experience, customer success, customer satisfaction and customer lifecycle were used interchangeably. AHHHH! Listen to her short video explaining why these are all different and then focus in on the critical element of customer success.