How can vendors better engage with partners?

We talk a lot about how the partner ecosystem in evolving. New partner types and business models are forcing vendors to re-evaluate how they can successfully engage channel partners. How can they remain current and relevant to their partners in 2022?

Pure Channels’ head honcho Glenn Robertson posted on LinkedIn last week that one portal vendor says they are working on an expectation that partner engagement is max-10%! That’s despite engagement being a key metric in for partner experience (PX).

So thinking about what vendors can do to better resonate with partners, I was reminded of a recent webcast by our friends at Channel Mechanics. It tackled this exact problem in relation to incentives programmes.

Don Lopes, director of global partner programmes at Juniper Networks made an excellent point. The first thing, he said, is that vendors “need to evolve, innovate and challenge what we’ve done the past.”

This means keeping one step ahead of customer buying patterns and preferences.

“You’ve got to lock in on the behaviours your organisation wants to drive,” said Lopes. “Where’s your customer going? What are the needs of your customer when it comes to how they want to consume technology or even how they want to be influenced? Is your buyer still influenced by the IT organisation or is it the business driving some of those elements?”

It is then the vendor’s job to build incentives that promote and drive these behaviours, he added.

The second part is to deliver an exceptional experience to your channel partners. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know we like to bang the PX drum. In this case, said Lopes, partners want the same ‘Amazon-like’ experience from their vendors’ programmes that they receive from the big consumer tech companies.

“To be relevant, we’ve got to deliver that back to them: easy, fast, simple, predictable, specific to their needs. The more we can do those things will help us stay relevant within their organization and probably maximise the investments that we’ve put in place.”

Partners have a world of choice when it comes to who they work with. If vendors can seek to better understand both the partner and their customer across the board, and provide an excellent experience when it comes to engagement, they will soon find themselves in a much sticker position with partners – in a good way.

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