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:
If a vendor makes it to the Growth stage (partners drop vendors and vendors drop partners – both at an average of 10% per year) it’s time for the partner to evaluate the relationship for future potential. At this point in the Partner Journey, they want to determine whether they’re getting the technology, experience, success and growth expected from their investment in a vendor. The hope is, as the partnership matures and mutual success is achieved, solid growth will start the partner journey over again at the Awareness stage.
At this stage of the Partner Journey, Experience, the partner is now engaging in a relationship with the vendor. The on-boarding begins with initial communications, training and introductions to field sales teams. But the experience doesn’t stop after the first 30-, 60- or 90-day steps. It encompasses all the interactions a solution provider has with a vendor, including people, communications, infrastructure systems, program elements and business planning and review meetings.
In the the third stage of the partner journey, Decision, solution providers have narrowed down their options in products, technologies and/or vendors. Now it’s time to decide. How can you make them decide to pick you? Start by taking a closer look at the components of the decision.
In the second stage of the Partner Journey, Consideration, solution providers evaluate the products, technologies, brands and/or companies to meet their needs. The solution providers report they are considering 2.3 vendors (on average) against each other. That doesn’t seem like a lot! But remember, they’ve already reduced the number in consideration during the Awareness stage.
This isn't just a step in the dating process – it's the first stage in the Partner Journey. In this Awareness stage, solution providers are exploring new products, technologies or vendors. How do vendors wanting to recruit and engage new solution providers let them know their company, products and services exist and are relevant? The first step is to find a receptive audience. Don’t waste efforts on people who aren’t interested.
When we industry folks talk about the customer journey, you all know what we're talking about. It's a very popular topic. In fact, a quick google search returns 460,000,000 results including a definition from Forrester: "The customer journey spans a variety of touchpoints by which the customer moves from awareness to engagement and purchase. Successful brands focus on developing a seamless experience that ensures each touchpoint interconnects and contributes to the overall journey." But customers aren't your only customers. Partners who sell your products and services through the indirect channel are also your customers. They need to be approached with similar regard and on a similar journey.
How would you define your partner account managers (PAMs)? Are they reactive, fighting fires and responding to partner issues, or are they proactive, helping partners improve their relationship with your company?
If you answered “reactive,” you’re not alone. For so long, the role of PAMs has been just that, focusing mainly on onboarding new partners and taking care of the needs of current partners. The PAMs of yesterday were designed to be reactive in nature.
It’s no surprise the cloud has impacted every facet of the IT space, from the way technology is built, sold and delivered to the way vendors and partners interact. It’s also no surprise that the number of partners that have the ability to support a cloud-only business model is disappointingly low. That’s why the question, “What is the role of partners in an increasingly cloud-focused world?” is being asked regularly—and often with different answers.