Peer 1 Hosting: Driving More Biz Through Partners
With three quarters of the world’s IT products and services being sold through the channel ,many companies are shifting from a direct only model to pushing more business through their partners. Anyone who has been through this knows it’s not an easy transition. The most important thing is to keep partner interests top of mind. A case in point: Check out ongoing moves by Peer 1 Hosting, a hosting provider with 17 data centers in the US, Canada, and Europe. Here are the details.
Peer 1 has been moving toward a channel program over several years. I spoke recently with Lee Hadsock, WW channel manager at Peer 1 Hosting to hear about their Channel initiatives and program elements. Peer 1 Hosting launched their channel program at the end of 2009. More recently, the company formed a channel sales team in March 2010 and is launching a partner portal in mid-2010.
So far, Peer 1 Hosting seems to be incorporating crucial elements for any company starting their channel program. To that end, lets use them as an example. Keep in mind that no one channel program fits all, but here is an outline for how to being creating a channel program:
- Do the research: If you don’t have current partners to interview, find some partners who could fit your target and ask them what’s important, what tools they need, and what makes or breaks a program.
- Value Proposition: Of course you already have a product value proposition. Now you need to develop a value proposition for the program. How are your partners going to improve their business? Peer 1 Hosting did a great job of this focusing on:
- Partner Reputation
- Mutual Satisfaction
- Program Simplicity
- Financial Benefits
- Program Elements: It is very important to define your program and its elements. Are you going to have tiers? What are the requirements and benefits? Research and qualitative interviews are imperative, this cannot be done in a bubble. If you implement a requirement or benefit without talking to partners, you’re not going to drive partner behavior, you’re just guessing.
- Ideal Partner Type: Identify your ideal partner, do you want strictly resellers or is your product in need of a more consultative approach from an SI or Consultant? Many channel organizations need a healthy mix of different types of partners. Even more interesting, per my last post on Partner to Partner Networking, partners are now working together to deliver exactly what their customers need at all times.
- Partner Enablement: You have a great product, a good program, and an engaged channel team….so why aren’t your partners selling? Partners are going to sell what they know, what they feel comfortable talking about, what they know how to demonstrate. If your partners haven’t been adequately trained on your program, marketing, and product they are going to sell something else.
It’s good to see companies like Peer 1 Hosting taking these elements into consideration when launching their Channel Program. Other companies moving toward a channel model should certainly keep an eye on Peer 1 Hosting as well.
What are you doing to launch your new program? Solution Providers, have you worked with others who have tried and failed? Tried and done well?
Contributing blogger Heather K. Margolis, the Channel Maven, has led channel programs for major IT companies. Follow The VAR Guy via RSS; Facebook; Identi.ca; Twitter; and via his Newsletter; Webcasts and Resource Center. Plus, visit www.VARtweet.com.