It’s not enough for vendors to offer strong partner programmes – to ensure success, they also need to ensure that their core channel values are sound.
That’s the opinion of Nick Christodoulou, Regional Channel Manager of EMC Southern Africa. Christodoulou ranks predictability as the most important of all core values.
“That’s mainly because predictability brings trust and trust brings profit,” he says. “Vendors can have the most advanced partner programmes in the world, but without the application of good channel discipline the channel programme has no value.”
Vendors put considerable effort into the design and management of their partner programmes for two primary reasons: to support the growth of their partner community; and to create differentiation for their partners.
Christodoulou explains that partner programmes support the growth of a partner by making a framework available which delivers tangible benefits such as training, marketing funds, leads and rebates to the partner.
“These benefits help to incentivise and reward partners for their commitment. They also help partners focus and fund their development,” he says. “Often, partners have two key objectives in mind: how do I maximise my revenue and how do I minimise my cost? Partner programmes lay the foundation for a partner to achieve both of these objectives.”
He points out that partners also get the benefit of the vendor’s ‘rubber stamp’, referring to the fact that the higher the tier the partner belongs to, the greater their reputation and standing with customers. “This is undoubtedly a key driving factor in partners aspiring to reach higher tiers within a partner programme,” he says.
“Partners also aspire to create areas of technology specialisation. The combination of different partner tiers and areas of technology specialisation gives the partner the opportunity to differentiate themselves, and differentiation is one of the key factors that drives profitability.”
Commenting on the economic climate and customers’ need to tackle definitive issues such as cloud, Big Data, security and business analytics, Christodoulou says these trends make the role of the partner more crucial.
“Partners take this complexity and deliver a result that meets the customer’s requirements – on a financial as well as a technical level. Customers are less concerned about the components of a solution. They are focused on achieving tangible ROI, and the role of a true value added reseller is not to concentrate their sales efforts exclusively on the technical decision-makers, but increasingly on the financial decision-makers as well.
“My advice to partners is to think and act like a VAR rather than a traditional infrastructure reseller. Building a solution capable of returning ROI is a skill, being able to quantify it financially is an art.”