Partners own the customer relationship and they’ve always been a force. But as customers have leveled up their demands in today’s service-driven economy, the power of the partner in the IT channel ecosystem is rising.
Influenced by the buying processes of Amazon, Tesla and other innovators, customers want fast, seamless and personalized experiences with their vendors. Most of all, they want value realization – not just once but throughout the entire relationship lifecycle.
To give them what they want, technology vendors are relying on their partners like never before. Those that are ahead of the curve are empowering their partners to serve as an extension of their own Customer Success teams. Taking it a step further, they are enabling them with the tools, expertise and resources to build their own thriving Customer Success practices.
From our vantage point at Channel Impact, it’s become clear that winning in today’s channel ecosystem requires vendors to invest equally in both Partner and Customer Success. The rewards more than justify the investment. According to Phil Nanus, Vice President, Customer Success, TSIA, vendors that have rolled out Customer Success programs for their partners are seeing higher revenue growth rates.
Introducing Our New Partner Success Practice
Recognizing that a gap exists between what partners need to compete more effectively in the changing market and what vendors can now deliver, Channel Impact has launched a new, comprehensive Partner Success Practice. From high-level strategies to tactical execution, the practice is cutting edge and is already being leveraged by a number of our clients. To kick it off, we recently published a white paper outlining 10 prescriptive strategies from our playbook. Here are three of those strategies:
- Company-wide commitment: The first step to building an effective Partner Success initiative is to commit to it on an organization-wide scale. That commitment begins with getting cross-functional leadership buy-in. Just like Customer Success programs, Partner Success programs must have top leadership support to be effective. When top-level executives are 100 percent supportive, then your chances for successful launch and execution skyrocket. The buy-in needs to allow for a solid foundation, spanning everything from the organizational structure you will implement, to your head count and budget.
- Centralize for greater success: As you build your program, keep in mind that a centralized approach will allow it to reach its full potential. Many Partner Success efforts fail due to siloed initiatives and lack of collaboration across the key organizations that impact partners day in and day out – from sales, to Customer Success, support and more. Your program must be centrally managed and orchestrated in order to offer the kind of consistency, scalability and expertise that will fuel the best outcomes for all of your partners and customers.
Also, it’s important to plan for the fact that the partner experience is complex. Jay McBain, Principal Analyst, Global Channels for Forrester Research says there are more than 90 vendor elements that touch the partner and impact their experience. This underscores the need for a centralized program that streamlines and optimizes the way each of those touch points is managed.
- Listen and understand: When getting started with a program, begin by listening to your partners. Ask for their perspectives on what it takes to be successful today. Find out what they need to engage more effectively with customers and what their requirements are for recurring revenue sales and profitability. Discover the tools, resources and programs that will be the best fit for their specific businesses as they seek to sell and deliver value with your products.
In an economy fueled by subscription services, both customers and partners are emboldened with the power of choice. Technology vendors who understand this new power dynamic – and support their partners to grow — will see their own success multiply.
I invite you to download the white paper to view all 10 of our top Partner Success strategies. And stay tuned, because throughout the year we’ll be offering further insights into Partner Success, including use cases and practical tips for getting your practice started on the right foot.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.
VP, Client Success