Partnerships - the key to long term success?

As technologies continue to progress and mature, customers continue to demand improved effectiveness from investments made in hardware, software, and service level agreements (SLA). Capitalising on this market opportunity requires a significant investment in creating strong, long lasting partnerships.

Toni Adams at systems management vendor, Altiris, argues that a successful and rewarding partner programme should have the correct tools in place to help partners sell and implement profitable solutions. Retaining partners is key to the long-term success of any business that relies on the channel to generate revenue. Best practice and shared knowledge between the partner and vendor can help to avoid issues, manage expectations and increase profitability.

A common mistake that many vendors make is to ignore the issues that might be affecting the performance levels of partners in terms of generating and retaining sales. The vendor must take responsibility for providing adequate training and support as well as helping to address any issues that may be hindering results. Matching the right partnership with your business will enable you to build a profitable revenue stream - if managed effectively.

A strong channel programme should allow a business to grow its partner base exponentially and it is therefore important to develop an infrastructure to manage this. A successful programme should focus on providing service and support to partners including management experts, service providers, value-added resellers and other channel players. Basic tools and incentives such as certification, quarterly programmatic training, e-learning, pricing and product information should be available to support partners when selling and implementing profitable solutions.

All partners should pass an exam to be certified to sell an organisation's products however, arguably, accreditation is not as important as the quality of the partner. Partners should also ensure they are proficient in delivering the products and understand exactly what they are selling. Training must provide partners with sufficient information on pre-sales, sales and technical requirements prior to selling. By giving partners educational help and support, businesses can help them to up-sell their products. Many programmes categorise partners into different levels of classification according to the level of service and experience. This kind of segmentation is an effective way of increasing partner motivation if managed well.

The overall aim of a partner programme should be to reward both transactional and service partners so that both sets of partners are treated with neutrality. When implementing a partner programme, businesses must look for quality partners that they can nurture and develop long term, to sustain infrastructure growth. A network of quality partners is instrumental to ongoing success and increased market awareness. That said, it is always quality rather than quantity, which businesses should measure success upon. Partners who demonstrate consistent high level standards are also more likely to invest in the programme for the long haul.

Toni Adams is the Marketing Director for Altiris in Europe (Altiris provides fully integrated, complete systems management solutions for client and mobile, asset, and server management). Responsible for all marketing, partner and communication activities in EMEA, he manages a European-wide team of 13 people With eight years of marketing and technical experience in the IT and business industry, Toni joined Altiris in January of 2003. Toni is a Master Certified Novell Engineer in Internet Technologies and has a Diploma in Information Technology from the Cape Technikon in South Africa. Born in Namibia, Toni is married and is fluent in English and German.

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