Phoenix Rising Blog – Partnering

Posted Thursday, August 4, 2016 at 06:00 AM by Deborah Henken

Do you Have the Right Channel for your Future?

The Buyer's journey has changed in the past few years.  Has your channel strategy kept up?  Have your partners?  How are you transforming your channel to address how buyers buy? How is your channel changing to keep up?

Here are some facts about the new world: 

  •  90% of technology spending will be outside of IT by the end of this decade -Gartner 2014 Partnership
  • 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase - Forrester 2015
  • Customers connect with each other and get unedited versions of others'experience  - Gartner 2015 reported in Harvard Business Review

Buyers are demanding more from the channel. VARs have become technology experts, gaining credentials through certifications and specializations from multiple vendors.  However, it is no longer enough to be just a technology expert. 

Selling SaaS solutions require VARs to go beyond the technical buyer. Depending on the SaaS solution they support, they often need to sell to a different customer other than the IT shop. Often, the buyer is in a functional department such as Sales, Marketing, or HR.  The VAR's role becomes that of a trusted advisor in guiding clients to understand what computing models best fit their needs and which application will deliver more business impact. There is also the need to help customers understand the impact of new technologies such as the Internet of Things on their business; how social and mobile computing may keep them more in touch with their customers and employees; or how big data analytics may help them spot trends and opportunities in their businesses and  to quickly meet those unmet and heretofore unrecognized needs.

A crucial part of your go-to-market plan and strategy is how to distribute your products and services in today’s environment. Often, leveraging channels whom already have in-roads to your target audiences is the more effective approach. But, customers also may have preferred ways to purchase which you must discover through product, customer research or persona development. Do your channels have the skills to talk to line of business customers or discuss new technologies or ways of distributing applications? It may be time to review your channel and determine if you need to select new channels to match your product directions in the world of big data, analytics, Internet of Things and SaaS.

The front-end of channel selection is very important—which channels to recruit, which partners to build relationships with, and building the terms and policies to manage the channel. Let’s review a few key steps to take to assure you select the correct channels for your product, company and customers.

1.Understand which channels are the best for your market. How do customers prefer to purchase? Make sure you understand your customer and how they purchase. Make sure you understand the purchase process and who will be involved. Make sure you find a channel strategy that matches your target audience and their purchase preference.

2.Next, identify the key channel companies or influencers in your market. Are there key VARs, online distributors, solution providers or retail which could bring your product to your market? Are there value-added retailers or other partners that have penetrated your market segment that you could work with to bring your products to market?

3.Have you reviewed recently what your competition is doing with their distribution strategy? Are there steps they are taking that you should take or key gaps they are not taking that could be an advantage to you. Who do they work with to bring their products to the customers? Identify successes and failures they have had to learn from their experiences. Identify opportunities and channels that you may not have thought of or that have worked well for them or they have ignored. You may decide on a direct play and build your own sales force or identify new channels or partnerships that you may have overlooked. Make sure you understand the costs and time involved.

4.Once you have identified the right channels and partners for you, develop a list of criteria that the channels should have. Do they have knowledge of your solution area? Are they already with a competitor? Do they understand SaaS or big data or Internet of Things or other trends impacting your solution? Do they have ability to sell your products, the technical knowledge, a business fit, and geographical coverage? 

5.Now identify a list of target channels and partners you believe will be the best for your company. At the time of recruitment, you must have your value proposition ready for them. What is in it for them, what is your competitive differentiation, why should they take on selling your solutions and products, will it get them into a growing market area, will they be able to leverage current customers and relationships? 

6.Approach your channel targets with a clear idea of what kind of terms, policies and pricing structure you are willing to offer. Make sure you have your value proposition in terms of market and growth and revenue and income opportunities.  Target channels and partners that are the best-fit, have mutual needs of you as much as you have of them, and work well with you.

Once you’ve recruited channels and partners, now on to the real work….. identify account plans for each channel. Determine resource requirements to support the channel and the ROI of allocating resources. Build a channel program that supports, trains, communicate and provides product and marketing information and tools. 

Phoenix CG and Highland Team can help you select the right channels and partners. 

Download the Partner Recruitment Check List Here

Deborah Henken is Principal of Highland Team, a go-to-market consulting firm, which creates revenue-enhancing strategies and programs to launch and grow businesses. Highland Team specializes in strategic marketing, channel strategy development and go-to-market planning and implementation with clear ROI results. Deborah has spent over twenty years in high tech marketing including Head of Marketing at Learning@Cisco, VP of Marketing at Blue Pumpkin Software, Director of Channels and Alliances at BEA Systems and Informix, and Channel and Direct Marketing Manager at Hewlett Packard.

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Tags: channel strategy, digital transformation, buyer's journey, transforming the channel, channel of the future


Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 07:00 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Skills, Aptitudes and Attitudes of Highly Successful Partner ManagersThere are key differences in skills, aptitudes and attitudes of a highly collaborative partner manager.  They are skilled at adapting to an ever changing environment and operating in a world beyond the traditional organization...

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Posted Monday, October 19, 2015 at 12:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Investment in Talent to Grow and InnovateTo many organizations, alliances and strategic partnerships are “the new way businesses grow and innovate,” particularly as they experience a rising profile within the C-suite.  As partnership alliances become an increasingly important source...

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Tags: Partner manager, partnering talent, partnering, channel management, alliance management


Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 02:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Collaboration between technology providers and their channel partners has never been more important. Creating a sustainable partnership begins with the customer value proposition. Without customer value, there is no reason to partner! This requires you to get inside the head of the ultimate...

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Tags: Business Impact, Solution Value, Relationship, Partner Value


Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 08:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Alliance management is in many ways a young profession, yet there is a set of defined processes and practices that have been shown to be effective in creating and operating successful collaborations.   Research has shown that companies that approach collaboration through...

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Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 07:00 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Do you have champions in your alliance? or do you have snipers and hostages? When I teach alliance skills mastery workshops, I often ask how much time managers spend on internal alignment.  That is winning the hearts and minds of the internal alliance stakeholders to gain their buy-in and...

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Posted Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 02:28 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

I did a study three years ago of partner health across 14 strategic alliances and about ~400 respondents and found something very interesting about the nature of trust in alliances. We did a correlation of heath attributes against overall partner health. We found that when 'trust' was present it did...

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Tags: Alliance Management Best Practices, Alliance Strategy


Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 09:14 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Findings from a Survey Conducted by Phoenix Consulting GroupOf the 20 partner managers we interviewed, most were realizing productive benefits from the use of social media. Benefits were described in terms of strengthening relationships versus the hard metrics of generating leads and revenue.Yet...

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Tags: social media benefits, partner strategy, enhancing collaboration, partner ecosystem


Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 10:19 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Findings from a Survey Conducted by Phoenix Consulting GroupWe asked twenty partner managers What is social media?By far the most common response was Good Question! After a thoughtful pause, we heard social media were tools that enabled users to communicate, to build loyalty, to collaborate and...

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Tags: Social Media, Partnering, Partner Ecosystem, Collaboration


Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 06:25 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Certainly in this economy doing more with less is an imperative we all face. It is also the fundamental premise of partnering and in these times Partner Managers are pressed even harder to do even more with even less. A few weeks ago I was asked to moderate a gathering of senior alliance executives...

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Tags: customer service, resource management, optimization


Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 02:32 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Attended an ASAP Green breakfast this morning and it was certainly eye opening even if the coffee arrived late.Hal LaFlash, Dir Emerging Clean Technology Policyfrom PG&E -that's Pacific Gas and Electric for the non-Californians - spoke on the many alliances that PG&E has been cultivating...

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Tags: power, green, alliances


Posted Monday, December 15, 2008 at 10:18 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Is it time to reevaluate your alliance investment? Do you have the right partners to weather the economic climate?Are you retaining the right partners to ensure you have a strategic advantage when the thaw comes?Regular portfolio rebalancing is a best practice even in good times, but especially...

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Tags: alliance, strategy, challenging, times, rebalancing, portfolio


Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 09:44 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

Have you rethought your alliance strategy in terms of what new opportunities lie ahead? Are you prepared to find the opportunity in disruption? We can assume that business as usual is not going to work in today's volatile economic climate because business has become unusual. Yet, disruptive...

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Tags: strategy, realignment, opportunity


Posted Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 09:14 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Does your organization have a clear discipline in determining which strategy to pursue to achieve an objective? Build? Buy? or Partner?If you answered, NO - you are in the majority. Unfortunately. A few organizations do, however, and one Proctor & Gamble has had excellent results for exercising...

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Tags: partnering, build


Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 07:16 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

This is a question I am frequently asked and one for continual debate. As far as I know there is very little published work on this topic, only fleeting references on the challenge. My opinion: there is no perfect answer but the best answer relates to what are you trying optimize?Functional silos...

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Tags: partnering, reporting


Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 07:49 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

In the Eight Secrets webcast, we reviewed some research data indicating that higher performing companies were extensive collaborators.Here I'd like to share some thoughts behind a fundamental change in attitude towards collaboration and partnering that I've seen in past few years. Some years...

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Tags: partnering, collaboration


Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 06:36 PM by Norma Watenpaugh

With great relief, I can report the "Eight Secrets" webcast went well. The producer and technical staff at AMA made it easy. The producer commented it was well attended and one of the best received webcasts they have done in terms of the feedback survey results. Whew! Here is one of the viewer feedback...

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Tags: partnering, webcast


Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 10:29 AM by Norma Watenpaugh

Launching a blog for Phoenix Consulting Group in the midst of Pottermania has been a hoot, to steal a phrase from Hedwig. Looking for a blog name, I investigated everything Phoenix and found everything Harry Potter. Trying to get clever, I tried the current spelling Phoenix Pheathers which...

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Tags: blog, business development, interation, collaboration

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