Question: Is channel management an art or a science?
Donagh Kiernan, founder and CEO of Tenego Academy, knows the answer: “Best practices exist because every business is the same,” says Kiernan. “But expertise [also] exists because every business is different.”
Translation: Channel management, planning and sales is a mix of both art and science— but you better get the answers to the “science” questions right.
Which brings us to a new series recently launched at Impartner, “Channel 101.”
Channel 101 is a new editorial project that covers the basics of channel planning, program creation, partner recruitment and more. Working with Tenego Academy, an Irish company that works with channel practitioners to help them design, build and then manage world-class channel programs, Impartner has created a series of blogs that provide companies of any size or maturity with answers to key questions.
In this new “Lessons from the Edge” video, Kiernan offers advice and support on how to develop practical skills in sales channel development and management for software companies.
The key basics of any partner program, according to Tenego, is partner proposition, fit and enablement. Put another way, it boils down to this:
- Do you have a compelling proposition that will attract partners?
- Are you able to identify and then cultivate ties with partners that are capable of helping you achieve your objectives?
- Can you enable partners once you have attracted them?
Partner fit is a particularly difficult challenge for many companies. “Vendors spend too much effort on relationships with the wrong people,” Kiernan says. The reason? Vendors keep trying to get all of the capabilities they need in a marketplace from a select set of partners. In doing so, vendors overlook the fact that expertise is typically spread out over an entire ecosystem. Vendors, thus, need more partners than they realize, and generally a mix of partner types to satisfy their ambitions.
Another thing Kiernan discusses in this video: honing your partner value proposition. It’s vitally important to attract the right type and number of partners.
“Revenue sharing is not the main thing that attracts partners,” Kiernan says, “value proposition is.”
He presses vendors to ask themselves the following: “What’s the motivation for a partner to work every day to sell our products?” If your company doesn’t have a well-defined answer, you are destined to struggle in the channel until you do.
When thinking about your partner proposition, consider your business model, technological innovation and the way in which your product or service helps partners achieve their goals.
Finally, take note of the last question I ask Kiernan: “Which is the area in which vendors stumble most?” His answer: enablement.
If you’re building a program for the first time and are not sure what world-class enablement is, then be sure to get an understanding of what automation can do for you. Among other things it can turn your art into a science when it comes to onboarding, recruitment, through-channel marketing, tiering, program administration and more. Be sure to sign up for an Impartner demo today.
*The Channel 101 series was produced with insight and information provided by Tenego Academy. Tenego Academy is a Cork, Ireland-based company that provides support to companies wanting to grow their organizations with third-party “channel partners” be they dealers, agents, referral partners, distributors, consultants and more.
Tenego Academy’s “Build Your Partner Program Like a Global Leader” programs helps companies looking to create, grow and/or optimize a partner program regardless of their size or market focus. No matter where your company is in its channel partner program journey, you will benefit from Tenego Academy’s programs, which cover everything from channel strategy to partner recruitment to automation and more.