Imagine trying to solve a complex puzzle where every piece must align perfectly to reveal the big picture. That’s precisely what it’s like for technology vendors striving to build successful channel programs while recruiting managed service providers. It’s no cakewalk; it’s a journey dotted with obstacles and challenges. But where there are challenges, there are also solutions. In this article, we’ll play detective, decode these challenges, and reveal the roadmap to conquer them.
- Rebalancing Partner Engagement
Picture this: in a relay race, only 20% of your runners reach the finish line. According to Forrester Research, most vendors are impacted by the Pareto principle, the 80-20 rule where a handful of partners generate the lion’s share of all channel sales. This lack of balanced engagement can significantly hinder channel revenue growth.
Solution: The trick here is to coach your entire team for the race. Placing a heightened focus on partner enablement can create equilibrium. Achieve this balance by empowering your larger partner base with the right tools – training, education, joint business planning, and all the resources to help partners better sell and support your solutions.
- Perfecting the Art of Communication
Communication – simple yet tricky. Most vendors struggle with messaging that too often gets lost in translation. Maintaining clear, timely, and relevant communication is a vital cog in the wheel for recruiting and retaining partners.
Solution: Keep partners in the loop and the lines of communication open. Regular updates about product enhancements, market trends, and program changes using diverse channels like newsletters, webinars, and partner portals should be your SOP. Remember, it’s a two-way street. Be a good listener and invite feedback from partners to refine and enhance your communication strategies.
- Training to Win
Here’s a shocker: CompTIA reports that 44% of MSPs say they have insufficient technical training and skills to deliver new, complex services. That’s like asking partners to cook a gourmet meal without giving them the recipe.
Solution: The magic ingredient here is ongoing training and certification programs to help partners stay ahead of evolving technology trends and offer more sophisticated services. Setting up a dedicated partner training portal offering self-service learning can be like providing a comprehensive cookbook to your chefs.
- Protecting Profit Margins
Many channel partners view profit margin erosion as the Achilles’ heel in their association with vendors.
Solution: The key here is to create a win-win scenario. Develop attractive incentive and rebate programs to ensure partners share in the prosperity. Regular assessments and adjustments to these programs help to keep them fresh and competitive.
- Elevating Market Differentiation
Imagine being one of the many fish in the sea. According to Datto, 29% of MSPs rank competition as their primary concern and find it difficult to distinguish themselves from their rivals.
Solution: Provide partners with unique, customizable marketing materials and co-branding opportunities to become the rainbow fish in a sea of sameness. Helping partners carve out their niche by offering exclusive products, services, or proficiency in specific vertical markets can make a significant difference.
- Taming Vendor Management
MSPs often juggle relationships with multiple vendors, which can strain their resources and divert their focus, like a circus performer spinning too many plates.
Solution: Adopting a partner relationship management (PRM) system can be the balancing pole for your partners. Providing a central repository for resources, streamlining communications, and automating routine processes makes it less burdensome for partners to collaborate with vendors and makes the plate-spinning act a little easier.
- Nailing Partner Recruitment
Imagine shooting arrows in the dark and hoping to hit the target. Accenture’s research reflects that 77% of partners state they have more choice in providers than they had three years ago. This has reversed the dynamic from vendors picking partners to partners selecting their vendors. Vendors now must work much harder to win partner minds and market share.
Solution: Here, the right approach is to get a flashlight. Define your ideal partner profile and your value proposition to your partners, their staff, and their end customers. Develop a targeted recruitment strategy highlighting these and other benefits distinguishing you from your competitors and reinforcing your commitment to helping your partners succeed.
- Mitigating Channel Conflict
Producing channel conflict is like hosting a dinner where no one can agree on the menu.
Solution: Implement robust deal registration systems to protect partners’ deals and margins and ensure everyone gets their preferred meal. Setting clear rules of engagement is like laying out dinner etiquette, helping to minimize potential squabbles.
- Reducing Program Complexity
According to Forbes, a whopping 73% of partners find understanding vendor programs as perplexing as navigating a maze.
Solution: Clear their path. Simplifying program structures and making them transparent can ease this challenge. Regular auditing of program rules and processes can help eliminate redundancies and unnecessary complexities.
- Boosting Marketing Support
Many partners feel left high and dry when marketing their services by a lack of vendor collateral and assistance.
Solution: Throw them a lifeline through ample marketing resources, funding, and support. Implementing a market development fund (MDF) program can aid partners in marketing your products and services more effectively and provide them much-needed support to float, not sink.
Building successful channel programs that engage MSPs isn’t easy, but technology vendors can foster successful, profitable relationships with their partners by understanding the challenges and addressing them head-on.
At Channel Mastered, our multi-award-winning team of experts specializes in overcoming the unique challenges of building successful MSP channel programs and driving growth and revenue for our clients. Following these key considerations and strategies, you’ll be better prepared to develop or improve your MSP channel program.