Creating the perfect plot for your channel partner strategy

23 March 2017

Once upon a time, doing business through the channel was relatively straightforward. This is no longer the case.

Making the right decisions in today’s complex and competitive market requires a depth of insight that simply does not arise naturally from the traditional, commercial relationships between channel executives and tech brands.

To create profitable partnerships, you need to understand your channel partners’ buying behaviours, and how these evolve over time in fast-changing markets. Your instincts and experience already tell you that each partner is different, but your commercial model has probably been based on putting them in just a few baskets.

Channel partners: a fairytale relationship?

Building a successful channel strategy is like creating a fairytale. You need to identify each partner’s character or persona, and the role of that persona in driving mutual value. Some will become your protagonists; others, background players.

To bring these partner personas to life, we spoke to channel executives from some of the world’s leading technology companies. We’ve turned these insights into a brand new report – The channel nightmare with a fairytale ending – which looks at some of the key characters in your channel story in greater depth.

For example, you’re probably familiar with partners whose buying behaviour is irregular and infrequent; they dip in and out of your program in an unpredictable manner.  We call this partner type the Cunning Fox – and like all cunning foxes you both revere and dislike them. On the surface, investing your valuable resources in a partner like this does not pay immediate dividends and you wonder if these pesky foxes are worth the effort. However, Cunning Foxes often have a handle on emerging market opportunities that could deliver a big pay off over time, so it’s worth teasing out mutual value from your relationship, while tracking their behaviours so that you can capitalise on their strengths and manage their vulnerabilities.

You might also have the good fortune to be dealing with a Golden Goose; a partner that continually delivers value. It’s easy to take them for granted because they bring you regular business, but they have a lot of predators – other companies keen to steal them away. Make sure they are looked after properly, and help them grow their business and lay some golden eggs.

Of all the key personas – and we’ve identified six – the one most companies will be familiar with is the Troll. These characters can use up all your resources, but deliver no revenue. They can be the ‘villains’ in your fairytale, but you are reluctant to ignore them; they make so much noise after all…  Use your data and insight to understand the true value they are adding and identify how to leverage their strengths (yes, they are usually big in size too…).   Then allocate the appropriate amount of resources to them and measure their performance to uncover whether they really are worth nurturing, or whether you should turn your focus to the heroes in your fairytale.

Writing your own channel fairytale

If you recognise some of these characters and haven’t familiarised yourself with all six of them yet, make sure you download our channel guide. Once you have insight into both the threats and opportunities each channel persona presents, you will be in prime position to make changes in your channel management strategies that your competitors can only envy – and write your own happily ever after.

If you’ve read our guide and are ready to drive greater value from your channel relationships, ICLP’s Partner Loyalty Cube can provide unique data analytics to identify your most meaningful partners, and refine your partner programme to drive profitable behaviours.

Get in touch with our channel performance experts to start writing your own channel fairytale.


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