The increasing competition in IT market influences every IT vendor to adopt all possible strategies for its market development. One such strategy is the effective usage of channel partner network. IT firms and other producers use these channel partners to compete and increase their market share. When an Information Technology company signs an agreement with a channel partner, then its main responsibility is to align the channel partner with company’s product line. It is often found that after signing the agreement, partner is struggling on its own to push the products. The company and the partner both have to be in in-sync h for fostering the business growth. As long as business is growing, this partnership is also evolving and strengthening.
The effective management of channel partners is crucial for any business in IT industry. As an IT firm, how can you manage the channel partners? Managing channel partners becomes a challenge when you have large software product lines and release frequent new versions of existing products. A firm can employ following strategies for better outcome:
Knowledge transfer: To retain its market share, IT companies continually introduce new products and release new versions of existing products. IT companies should transfer the knowledge of new products and updated versions to their channel partners by conducting product trainings, workshop etc. This updated knowledge makes the partners more competitive for effective selling.
Manage relationship to one to one basis: Company often tracks the performance at channel partner level; it hardly takes the view at individual sale person level. Now time has come to measure the performance of a partner’s individual sales employee. Instead of selecting the all salesmen, the channel manager should identity high performing sales men of a channel partner and extend them training and support.
Track the performance parameters: A company can monitor many parameters to measure the channel performance. But it should select some easily manageable parameters : Sales volume per channel partners ( possibly individual sales man level ) , new customer acquisitions , customer satisfaction score (CSAT) , funnel to closure ratio , percentage of deals they are working on which your product is a part of whole solution .
Measure the outcome: IT firms should measure the outcomes of channel partner development activities on a regular basis .This measure helps it to fine tune its future actions plans. These outcomes can be measured in the form of sales per partner employee, closure rate, revenue growth rate per products, and growth in cross selling. This will help company to identify the top performing partners and their sales person and to reward the partners for more business from them in future.
Success of the channel partner program largely depends on the selection of right products training at right time for the right sales person, adoption of matrices that are easily measurable and understandable to channel partners and channel manager, and sharing of performance with the channel partners on a regular basis.