As we’ve all witnessed, the customer is in control in today’s services-driven economy, and that’s why the practice of customer success has emerged as one of the biggest movements to hit the technology industry this past decade.
In lock step with this power shift, customer success has also become a major focus of our business at Channel Impact: we’ve supported our clients in embracing it and investing in it to drive increased customer retention, higher levels of brand trust and greater growth and profits.
But as we turn the page on a New Year, the next phase of customer success is taking hold — that phase is focused on the power of the partner. The reality is, customer success programs will never reach their full potential without the backing of a strong, enlightened and enabled partner community.
All of us at Channel Impact have seen first-hand how partners create a force multiplier effect for customer success programs in terms of scaling their reach and accelerating their impact. We’ve also seen that vendors who understand this dynamic – and offer the right programs, tools and guidance to enable their partners to build their own customer success organizations — are outpacing their competitors.
By all indications, partner success is a key differentiator for OEMs today. That perspective is not only shared by me and my team, but by many of today’s most influential channel leaders. With that in mind, here are some of the top takeaways from our one-on-one conversations with five of those leaders here on Channel Impact Buzz in 2018:
Bridget Bisnette, Senior VP, Global Channels and Commercial Sales, Riverbed – “Everyone is focused on customer success. All the vendors get it, but what’s been lacking has been a real focus on partner success as it relates to selling in that lifecycle model. There are companies out there doing amazing work in customer success and spending millions of dollars putting together complex journey maps for their enterprise customers, but they still haven’t figured out the partner side of it.”
Michelle Chiantera, VP, Global Partner and Commercial Marketing, Cisco – “With technology evolving to a pay-as-you-go subscription model and becoming more software focused, there are new ways to consume and interact, which has changed how we sell and market… As this transformation in marketing happens, we have to help our partners evolve to align with the changing market.”
Michelle Hodges, VP, Worldwide Partners & Alliances, Gigamon – “Today we’re seeing a stronger vendor focus on personalizing the channel relationship. Each partner has their own unique requirements, business models, skillsets and talent: the vendors that take a tailored and targeted approach to channel engagement are seeing an impact on performance and customer value exchange.”
Phil Nanus, VP, Customer Success Practice, TSIA — “OEMs must consider their partners an extension of their own customer success organization and give them the resources they need to thrive. This is a win-win proposition because, from what I’ve seen, the vendors that have rolled out customer success programs for their partners are seeing higher revenue growth rates.”
Jared Raftery, Senior Manager, Global Partner Strategy, Cisco – “In order to scale customer success, vendors must empower their partners to build and execute their own CS practices. Partners are the ones out there selling the deals, so vendors can gain strategic advantage by giving them the tools and resources to improve the way they drive adoption, deliver value and grow customer lifetime values. Said differently, if partners are making the promise, then we must help them build capabilities to deliver on the promise.”
These leaders have clarified why vendor investments in partner success are critical in 2019. In the coming months we plan to take our conversations on this topic to the next level to share knowledge on what it takes to build effective, sustainable programs. Next month we will be releasing a new whitepaper, The Rise of Partner Success in the Services-Driven Economy, that will arm you with 10 prescriptive steps you can take to jump-start your partner success practice. In the meantime, if you have any questions about establishing a partner success initiative please contact me or my team.
Wishing you a profitable, successful New Year!
Partner success is the cornerstone of Channel Impact’s mission. Are you ready to scale your partner program to meet the changing landscape? Contact us for a consultation today.