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July 29, 2022
By Lisa Kilpatrick
When it comes to vendor and channel partner relationships, continued partner education and optimized touch points for keeping resellers armed with the latest information remains critical for channel success and management.
Through years of trial-and-error experience as a 100% channel-oriented company and based on feedback, we’ve compiled four key principles for training and knowledge-sharing with channel partners that have strengthened our relationship with resellers.
Diversify. All product courses should cover the full portfolio of solutions and services and be readily available online. It’s helpful for them to be divided into areas of expertise, allowing partners the ability to choose and develop their knowledge in a particular target specialization from the very beginning. Accreditation and specialization programs are also a main focus area for partners’ channel satisfaction, so these should be a priority as well.
In addition, it remains important to tailor courses to different target audiences. While the general set of online courses is directed toward sales teams, implementation and support engineers, along with presales, need a deeper dive into the technology with demos and labs. Authorized training centers can be established to fill this need and should be available in all key regions.
Vendors should also work to create additional specialized training programs in response to partners’ needs or concerns, especially during times of crisis as was the case at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Receive feedback, implement, repeat. Asking for partner feedback, implementing change, and then repeating this cycle is the most important principle for a symbiotic vendor and partner relationship.
Because partners are typically highly engaged in training courses, their feedback is always welcomed and useful for vendor development. On the vendor side, there’s typically a team of channel, product and learning managers that analyze all comments once per quarter and then improve related courses. For resellers, it’s important to give honest and clear feedback so vendors can understand and pivot their offerings accordingly.
There are many suggestions for content improvements such as requests to add more scenarios or examples of network attacks. Another common feedback theme relates to misunderstandings over the wording of some questions. There may also be requests for translated courses from English into local languages, an important point for resellers as it is essential for them to speak to customers in their local language.
Addressing these challenging areas, implementing change and consistently repeating this cycle will signal to resellers that vendors are doing their best to set them up for success, creating a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.
Conduct webinars wisely. Partners may need more information about a vendor’s business priorities, products or even general industry trends and changing customer needs. Webinars have proven to be a helpful format for this; however, partners can only spend so much time on these types of events.
Since resellers usually work with multiple vendors, and each vendor hosts their own webinars and training sessions, it’s a good standard practice to hold one global webinar per month to share important news such as product and technology updates and launches, insights on emerging cybersecurity risks and the threat landscape, etc. In addition, it’s also wise to host specialized quarterly online events for managed service providers (MSPs) that provide updates on the MSP program or new products available.
This carefully curated cadence of scheduling webinars has been developed over the past few years and it’s proven to be effective, based on reseller feedback. Although adding just one more webinar to the schedule can be tempting at times, do your best to avoid doing so as not to compete for attendance with other planned activities.
Utilize social networks. A social network community can become an additional informal point of contact between vendors and their channel peers. They can create a dedicated group and share important news in a more user-friendly manner, see responses from their audience in real-time and encourage informal discussion among members. Belonging to a community can serve as an additional incentive for employees of partner companies to promote cooperation with a vendor in their personal accounts and share their achievements from their experience, such as becoming the best B2B partner or receiving a certificate in a cloud security specialization.
Each of the aforementioned best practices can be useful for growing the relationship between vendors and the channel right now, while also improving the education process.
Vendors know their product portfolio best, but it’s imperative for partners to know what solutions are the best fit for their customers’ unique needs, so the transfer of knowledge should always remain a top priority when considering the nuances of this working relationship.
Lisa Kilpatrick is head of B2B sales for Kaspersky North America. In 2020, she received a gold Stevie Award in the category of achievement in sales revenue generation in the 17th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business. You may follow her on LinkedIn or @kaspersky on Twitter.
Read more about:MSPs
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