Tech vendors have long understood the power of channels to drive revenue and successfully enter new markets, often regarding their partner networks as competitive weapons. Yet, the shrinking global partner ecosystem and a growing number of available products has led existing channels to partner with multiple vendors in the same solution category.
While channel reduction estimates vary widely from 15% to 40%, most agree that the number of partners remains on the decline as a result of ongoing M&A, cloud and hybrid computing, and other factors. That leaves today’s channel partners managing a dozen brands or more on average, further increasing vendor competition for their attention. Now more than ever, it appears that channel loyalty – and mindshare – is up for grabs.
Seemingly counterintuitive to a shrinking ecosystem, heightened spending has been a direct reaction to this. Traditional enablement programs centered on marketing development funds (MDF), product training and deal registration are being re-engineered to address these new dynamics and differentiate channel programs in wholly new ways. These changes have also created a sense of urgency around technical certification and specialization on topics such as security, mobility, cloud and virtualization.
The real challenge for vendors and partners now is keeping pace with these market dynamics as well as developing the right mix of sales and technical partner professionals. Obviously, since all partners – top-tier and long-tail alike – need to support, sell or maintain vendor products, the inability to achieve mindshare, differentiation and certification at scale translates into missed opportunities for top-line revenue growth. Clearly, vendors that do the best job at this will gain the competitive advantage they seek.
Unfortunately, popular channel training and certification methods – partner meetings, sales portals, email and Web programs – alone are not conducive to the way your field-based partners work, nor are they especially effective at maintaining partners’ proficiency on your products or services.
Any channel enablement solution designed to differentiate your program from the competition must align with the way this audience thinks and works. For channel reps, it must be simple, engaging, convenient and fast. For your channel sales management, first and foremost, it’s got to work, be cost efficient at scale, and offer insights into the true potential of every channel partner rep to represent your products. For a growing number of technology and manufacturing businesses, Qstream does that.
We have created a three-step closed feedback loop that allows key product and selling messages to be pushed to channel partners directly, provide real-time insights to channel management and deliver continuous, always-on sales support at scale:
- Communicate – Channel representatives respond to short, scenario-based challenges pushed to their mobile device, followed by brief explanations proven to increase the retention of product knowledge by as much as 170%. A powerfully simple UI and the application of game mechanics deliver average engagement rates of 94%, creating a differentiated approach to certifying product knowledge that reps actually enjoy.
- Measure – Qstream’s analytics engine synthesizes response data to put critical insights on performance at the fingertips of channel managers, including actionable intelligence on channel capabilities and areas of weakness that can pose a threat to productivity, competitive position and revenue growth.
- Manage – Through integration with CRM and PRM systems, Qstream capabilities data can be used to compare performance across regions, partner types or product categories to optimize the overall structure and composition of the partner program.
To learn more about the Qstream solution, and how we’ve helped companies capture the mindshare and loyalty of channel partners in today’s changing partner environment, contact us today.