How do you choose, measure and reward the right Partners for your product?
Many technology manufacturers rely on a network of resellers around the world to sell their product and manage the customer relationship. These resellers (or Partners) are usually segmented into tiers of a manufacturer’s Partner Programme, through which they will manage the relationship with the Partner (Partner Relationship Management – PRM).
They’ll provide the Partner with deal registration, margin share, training, certification, sales support, marketing funding, guidance and templates, perhaps adding sales incentives as well as technical support for complex technology set-ups. The manufacturer gives more support, time and money to the Partners that it deems more likely to be of financial value to them.
But have these criteria changed since the global pandemic?
How do we now calculate who will be of most value to us?
It’s a short and a long-term game, of course. Some manufacturers will (perhaps through decency and loyalty) want to stick with their former ‘Gold Certified’ Partners and hope that, over time, they simply adapt with the same attitude to excellence and agile business style that presumably qualified them to be ‘Gold’ or even ‘Platinum’ in the first place.
However, therein the problem may lie. It wasn’t necessarily an attitude to excellence or an agile business style that classified them as top tier Partners in the first place. Often, Partners are simply tiered by the volume of a particular product that they promise to sell in their selection survey, perhaps underscored by the number of manufacturer-training modules that their sales staff complete.
In return, they get a “Gold” logo to waft about, have the undivided attention of a field-team member (who may now have been furloughed or let go) and its owners were taken on a glossy sales incentive trip, during which deals to shift stock were struck in the hotel bar.
The trained sales staff leave, taking the training with it, and the promises of sales volumes are now impossible.
The manufacturer may also find that they genuinely want to support their reseller Partner base but the kind of support given in the past just isn’t what they need right now.
What do resellers need at the moment? Retraining, marketing funding, stability and a clear revised plan for realistic product volume allocation, most likely.
So, the technology manufacturer faces a quandary. I strongly believe that they need to take a fresh and much closer look under the hood, so to speak, at their Partner base. And who isn’t in it, and should be. And how they should be best supported.
Oddly, resellers who were reliant on a rich and varied suite of marketing activities, like events and exhibitions, interpersonal relationships with customers, involving dinners and seminars, as well as call centres and digital DM and advertising, may be the very resellers struggling at the moment.
It is entirely down to how quickly they accepted the ‘new normal’. It is partly down to the location of their staff and indeed customers; those two not necessarily being intertwined.
It goes without saying, or perhaps not, that the resellers you ideally want to get into a socially-distant bed with right now are the ones who immediately pivoted on the spot and trained like athletes on digital platforms (even the bosses). Or the Partners who are grabbing hold of agencies like us at Blueprint who did that too.
Your new resellers need to be masters of digital CRM, somehow. And you need to give them and measure their use of appropriate digital content, digital campaign materials, traffic to landing pages, indeed landing pages themselves.
It’s only now just becoming acceptable to be seen to be selling (that meaning advertising) in some countries and even then with caution.
So, how many hours are they spending on narrowing and refining their audiences through split-testing? It’s not a question any more of how many emails have been sent, or how many ads served; it’s how effectively and appropriately was it done?
There’s no room for anything else in the second half of 2020. This is it. Half time is done. This is the last chance to make it on the 2020 pitch. And yes the rain’s been thundering down, it’s the worst match conditions your team has ever seen.
It’s the same for all of us. But the team that survives the second half, is the one that trained for the rain.
There are many more factors than how agile their marketing department is, of course. How well funded are your resellers? Are they at the start, middle or end of their business lifecycle? (Grab them in the middle before they get too big to change or run out of energy, or too inexperienced to ride the wave) How dependent on you are they? What sectors are their customers in? Airlines and exhibition venues? Or insurance and banks? What kind of ambition and culture do they have?
This is what gives you a true picture of their potential in the second half of 2020 – and then their long-term potential through subsequent periods.
If you want help doing a rapid audit of your current Partners and taking a dip into the pool of transforming digital businesses right now so that the people selling your product are the best that you can get, contact us at Blueprint.
No matter what, we wish everyone out there all the very best for business and health and let’s all cheer any success in any form.