How many of your partners fall into the category of channel order takers?
Channel order takers can represent partner teams and groups with a solid track record of generating revenue for your company. Nothing wrong with driving revenue.
Channel order takers create a stable and comfortable revenue stream for your company and for their own companies. Nothing wrong with solid revenue streams.
They are comfortable doing business the way they have always done business. They make their numbers. They may even help you make your numbers.
Do the majority of your channel partners fall into the category of channel order takers?
They are profitable. They just aren’t innovative. And you need them to be.
What will happen when you ask these order takers to become more innovative? The cloud marketplace will shift, eventually, away from its current holding pattern and midmarket and enterprise emphasis.
The comfortable position of your channel order taker partners will be disrupted.
What will happen when you ask these order takers to be more proactive in generating new business within their current customer base? That innovation requires them to upsell rather than resell, deliver long-tail value rather than distribute product.
Innovation can mean nothing “more” than embracing and implementing a solid platform of service quality delivery. Except that the channel order takers haven’t ever truly emphasized that area in their own partner business models.
These channel order takers tend to be non-responsive to and un-creative about leveraging your marketing materials to build stronger partnerships within the channel itself. They stick to their own kind, preferring old relationships to the innovative alternative of forging newer ones with folks who, well, might not be just like them.
If the majority of your channel sales partnerships are with the order taker variety of partner, the first order of business is your responsibility, not theirs.
Your traditional incentives may not present a tempting enough carrot to make them move away from their status quo. They can take their business elsewhere.
However, you can moderate how you allocate resources to them in the future.
I had a long conversation with an extremely frustrated regional sales director for an OEM (original equipment manufacturer). Her sales engineers were indiscriminately being shunted all over creation, chasing “leads” provided by channel partners. No one was making their numbers except for those channel partners. And they weren’t her OEM’s numbers. She was in the hot seat. There was a lot of teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing.
Problem was that post-demo, I think you know what happened. Her company didn’t win the business. The channel partner awarded the business to the competition, whose products they also represented.
While this scenario indicated a myriad of issues, we decided to look at only one of the potentially millions of cans of worms she had described to me.
What happens when your organization takes the time to be more discerning about allocation of resources to channel partners? Will you win more contracts with channel partners who are enthusiastic about working with your company?
Advice for OEMs: Have you created a sales channel comprised primarily of order taker partners? If you are not thrilled about the situation, the first step towards changing that situation rests firmly in your own hands.That means your organization has identified the order taker channel partners from the innovators. That means your organization understands the difference between a viable opportunity and an unqualified lead. That means your OEM leadership team has a vision for tomorrow within a corporate culture that doesn’t sell like it is yesterday.
Advice for order taker channel partners: This is a two-way street. What is the minimum viable change you can make to your own organization and habits that means a win-win for your relationships with the folks whose products and services you represent? Chances are your margins will increase in the process of making these improvements.
What course of action will you choose to take?
This post was brought to you by IBM for MSPs and opinions are my own.
Babette N. Ten Haken is a management strategist and team-building leadership coach. She helps companies, startups and small businesses who wrestle with unpredictable revenue streams. She and her clients co-create Playbooks, resulting in more productive, profitable and healthy organizations. Her Playbook on leadership and business strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact her here.