Partner Programs: Time for An Overhaul (Part II)
In my previous post, I described Magento’s new partner program in an effort to provide a behind the scenes perspective into some of the challenges we faced and insight into what we were hoping to accomplish with the changes. I discussed the need to create meaningful distinction between the partner levels that ultimately drives value for partners, customers and Magento. But there were other needs that we needed to address.
Take a look.
Integrate Partners Into the Business
While everyone talks about how important partners are to the business, it was important to make this reality. Given the demand for Magento around the world, partners were the only way to pursue and fulfill this demand effectively and quickly.
Partners needed to become a strategic component of our success and an integral part of our strategy by becoming the primary sales and service delivery channel around the world. Not only would this avoid confusion and the inevitable channel conflict but it would allow us to focus on developing a strong solution, supporting customers & partners, and helping partners build a healthy business around Magento based solutions.
Creating an effective partner based sales and service channel for Magento required a mutual commitment to growing the business together, developing a plan that will drive success, and working together to drive future direction and initiatives.
Investing in Partners
My previous blog discussed the need to differentiate the partners and link the benefits they would receive with the commitment and investment that partners were willing and able to make. This along with the need to better integrate partners into the business now allowed us to be smarter about how we invested in our partners.
If we expected partners to represent us effectively with customers, we needed to co-invest in go to market initiatives, skills and competency development, and relationship development. Initiatives on our radar that are a priority include:
- Capturing the tremendous amount of inbound traffic and interest and converting that into sales leads that partners can pursue.
- Allocating resources to support sales activity among our top partners
- Formalizing a training program with technical certification that ensure strong competency.
- Proactively supporting demand generation initiatives to identify new business.
- Introducing more self service options focused on community partner needs.
A Comprehensive Partner Strategy
While Solution Partners represented our primary focus and opportunity today, we also needed to develop a more comprehensive partner strategy that incorporated other types of partners that were valuable to our success.
A huge opportunity that exists for any software company are partners focused on SaaS/On Demand solutions. We needed to create a model and program that fit our partner’s business and was good for Magento. Complimentary technology companies were also reaching out to us regularly interested in exploring ways to work together and integrate their solutions with Magento.
While we recognized the importance of rounding out Magento and integrating with industry leaders in payment gateways and shipping methods, etc., we simply didn’t have the resources to support all but a few initiatives. While a significant number of integrations, extensions, and modules have already been developed for Magento, we needed to be more proactive in targeting the right partners and better support third party integration with minimal involvement by our development team.
With our needs clearly defined, we could then build our plan and determine how we would measure and ensure success.
Contributing blogger Scott Dahlgren is an independent consultant helping small and mid-size technology companies extract greater value from their partner and channel relationships. And he also runs marathons through the woods of Connecticut. Here are all of Scott’s blog entries. The VAR Guy is updated multiple times daily. Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe to his newsletter, RSS feed, Twitter feed and Resource Center.