There are companies re-vamping their channel; others are starting their change (Hello, Office Depot!); and some are scratching their head wondering about their channel program.
Over the years, companies looked at the Cisco and Microsoft channel programs as ideal. Unfortunately, they didn’t understand the underlying elements of those channels.
The underpinning was the training and certifications. THAT was what won.
The other element was focus. There was a theme to the program, like small business software or LAN/WAN hardware.
Today, the focus is gone. The program catalog of services is bursting to overflow.
The training is gone too. I don’t mean there aren’t a ton of webinars. I mean the training is missing. To go beyond the basics requires training in the product, its uses, its buyers and how to sell it. [There is also the user training that is needed for adoption and customer retention. That too is missing.]
In the UC space, providers look at the channel programs of both 8×8 and RingCentral. Because they are public, there is more detail. Yet it goes beyond the single point of: “New MRR sold to midmarket/enterprise customers and by channel sales teams accounted for 60% of total MRR booked in the quarter.”
There were elements (or ingredients) that had to be baked into the program for success. Here are a few:
- This was a 5 year pay-off. It was not a short term gamble. Long term and expensive.
- They had a goal. They were aiming for the mid-market from there sales in the VSB segment.
- They had Focus. It is a limited product set.
- They invested – in talent, in the Channel and in marketing.
- They stayed the course. Again it wasn’t short term gain.
- They knew how to sell from years of direct sales.
- They built a program. 8×8’s first channel program was crap. RC was an affiliate marketer. That changed to SPIFFs, MDF, recurring commissions, national accounts and implementation.
- They flushed out a more complete product. RC went from auto attendant in the cloud to a complete UC suite. 8×8 has integrations into many practice management software systems, like Allstate. They both made acquisitions – like Glip and Sameroom – to add functionality.
Training is lacking in both programs but the other ingredients have been fully baked in.
If you are re-vamping our channel or launching a new channel, what elements do you have? What elements are lacking?
If you need help, RAD-INFO has helped quite a few providers with their channel program.