Get with the Partner Programme: The World Has Changed and You Should, Too

Nurture client relationships and develop expertise in key markets.

October 28, 2021

4 Min Read
Changing World

By Chad Jones


Chad Jones

It’s been a transformational 18 months with the pandemic, with unprecedented levels of market disruption leaving the channel supercharged and ready to pivot. Customer demands have yielded a fresh approach as the focus moved from steadying the ship to accelerating growth and aligning with new opportunities. No one is left untouched by change and partner programmes must reflect evolving needs.

Shifting to a hybrid world of digital and physical work has boosted our reliance on remote technologies, the amount of data produced and consumed – and ultimately, a need for automation. This was good news for many channel partners who scrambled to meet customer demands. They were critical to ensuring the continuity and resilience of their customers’ businesses. But not all revelled in success. For those that did, a clear pattern emerges.

Channel partners with the right skills and resources, and practices that were already tightly built around their customer’s needs, were able to successfully support them amid the turbulence – and the rewards were lucrative. The partners that stumbled on these points, lacking the agility and expertise to respond effectively, fell behind. This is a direct consequence of the channel landscape that had already begun to rearrange around more vertical needs, as the digital transformation of vertical businesses accelerated. With three years of transformation squashed into a pandemic year, the margins for success were tightened.

In Sickness and in Health

Important lessons underscore this period – and they tap into the fundamentals of healthy partner relationships.

The onus is on vendors to help to cultivate and nurture these relationships so the whole channel ecosystem can flourish. Catalysing a tightening around key emerging markets from remote software to cybersecurity, for example, requires a holistic shift. It’s a journey shared and collectively activated to ensure partner success – and that customers’ digital transformations meet evolving demands. Customers’ trust in these technology solutions and their ability to ease their transformations depends on it.

After 18 months in crisis mode, one thing is certain – the partner relationship is like any other. In marriage we commit to caring for our partners in sickness and in health, which inevitably strengthens relationships over time. In the same way, those vendors that have tirelessly supported their partners as the landscape shifted have experienced tightened, more trusted relationships. Meanwhile, customers who were nurtured by the savvy solutions and expert consultancy delivered during this time saw such actions bring them back to health.

A crisis is a time to shine, and those that came through will have shared more handsomely in their customers successes. On the other hand, those that faltered – who were slow to act or without the deep customer knowledge required to ensure a swift pivot with tailored solutions – will have found themselves in a darker place. This is where supportive partner programmes can help.

Building a Supportive Channel

The partner programme isn’t new, but in volatile times this line of partner engagement is crucial to supporting and motivating channel partners and creating more value for customers where it’s needed. This is about fostering the expertise needed to generate the premium-grade consultancy customers need, to really buy into tailored solutions that gives them the competitive edge. It’s about supporting those critical partner/customer relationships. It’s about catalysing change and bringing the ecosystem together to share in customer success. But partner programmes also need to evolve with the needs and pressures compelling the channel.

Providing a single source of truth on vendor products, services and solutions via a digital platform, with frictionless access to educational tools, is particularly important in times of immense change. It empowers and enables partners to advocate for the most impactful customer solutions, staying up-to-date in real time. Meanwhile, partner programmes that incentivise and reward partners are a reminder of the special role of these relationships – and the impact that they have on channel sales. We’re in this together.

Looking ahead, as we steer into economic recovery and businesses look to consolidate their transformations and further accelerate digital progress, channel partner programmes will need to “get with the programme,” too. That’s to remain relevant, supportive and aligned with partner needs. Remaining poised, ready to change gears and meet the challenges of tomorrow will define partner success.

Chad Jones is senior director of channel sales, Channel, EMEA at Park Place Technologies. He earned a degree in business management from Kent State University. You may follow him on LinkedIn and @parkplacetech on Twitter.

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