It’s widely accepted that the channel is meant to be a mutually beneficial relationship between the provider and the channel partner. It’s meant to be a union rooted in reciprocal respect and nurturing. A blending of principles, goals and strategies. And much like a marriage, without a give-and-take relationship, a channel partnership is certain to fail.
The idea that the channel is built on strong relationships of mutual benefit is no secret. So why is it so often that we find Managed Service Providers (MSPs) believing that it’s a privilege for channel partners to sell their products and services? Why do we frequently see MSPs assuming that the partner needs the relationship to exist, more than they do?
Well, we need to remember that not all channel partner programs are created equally. It’s important to keep perspective and understand that not all MSPs share the dedication, passion and skillset to deliver a powerful partner experience. And while channel partners often have a similar set of needs, wants and desires, not all MSPs are able to deliver on the preferred experience.
MSPs must be passionate about their channel partner programs, and if they are not, IT partners need to break up with their vendor.
So is passion the secret? Is that what makes one channel partner program better than another?
Well, yes. Sort of. In fact, similar to a marriage, if the MSP isn’t fully engaged in the relationship, it stands to reason that the partner will feel unwanted and underappreciated. So, yes. An unpassionate relationship between an MSP and a channel partner is the umbrella cause for unsuccessful business.
Partners need MSPs that are fully invested in the cause. One-hundred percent dedicated to the relationship and fulfilling the needs of their partner. It is only then that it is a win-win situation.
With that said, let’s take a look at exactly what YOU as a partner should be experiencing with your MSP.
Ease of Doing Business
Partner experience is everything. And for partners that are working with a variety of vendors, you definitely don’t have the time or resources to navigate a complicated partner program. That’s why it is critical that your MSPs have simplified their partner program down to its very core. The easier it is to work with your vendor, the more time you have to focus on selling and boosting revenue.
It’s also important to mention that not all partner programs are one-size-fits all. Part of the soul behind an “easy to do business with” MSP is their ability to be flexible. If your vendor has a boiler plate program, and deviating from their “norm” causes major disruptions in their ability to provide a sound partner experience, then you’re deal with a “difficult to do business with” MSP. So do yourself a favor and avoid obstinate MSPs.
We all want to know that when we enter into a business relationship, we’re going to see a profit. Isn’t that the point of doing business? Financial gain? Well, MSPs must understand that money speaks.
Channel partners deserve aggressive price points, large residuals, attractive incentives and prompt payment, and MSPs must deliver.
The more financial gain, the more motivation there is to be successful. So, if you’re a channel partner and you’re not seeing the largest residuals in the industry, evergreen commissions, no revenue minimums, quotas or exclusivity clauses, your wings are being clipped. You’re in an unfulfilling relationship that’s holding you down, keeping you from opportunity and crushing future success.
An efficient onboarding process is the start of a fruitful relationship for MSPs and partners. It is the strength of the foundation set in the relationship that allows a channel partner to spend more time selling and less time trying to make sense of the products, services and resources.
When the onboarding process is effective, it will result in more immediate sales success for the channel partner.
Proactively addressing questions at the start of the relationship is vital to success in the channel. When MSPs provide comprehensive answers to questions like, “What is the buying process like”, “what sales tools are available”, who are the target buyers” and “what are the key differentiators setting the products and services apart from competition”, you as a partner are more equipped to jump head first into the sales process.
With that said, channel partners must have effective and relevant communication with their MSP. Whether it be an online resource center and/or open communication with a dedicated team, make sure that your MSP is providing you with an onboarding process that sets you up for long-term success.
No one can predict when systems go down, need support or customers require assistance. It can and will happen when you’re sitting around the dinner table, playing a round of golf or at your kid’s soccer game. And guess what? Your customers rely on you as the partner to ensure their systems are always operating smoothly. It’s all about customer experience.
So, yes. The burden falls on you. You’re the one at fault if their system is causing business disruptions.
That’s why it is absolutely critical that your MSP partner has a comprehensive technical support team, comprised of top experts in the industry, available on-call to ensure systems are operating at peak performance.
Rapid resolution is the only solution. Your customers deserve it and your MSP must be able to deliver.
Channel partners are not trained marketers. So that means that every IT partner needs the full support of the MSPs marketing team, backed by a marketing budget. That’s an absolute requirement. No exceptions.
To be successful, partners unequivocally need a full scope of marketing assets readily available to them with clear instructions on how best to leverage said assets. It’s also critical that MSPs are providing strategy and ongoing support, so that partners can continue to reach and engage customers throughout the entire sales process. These are all fundamental aspects to an MSP and channel partner relationship. Without this kind of collaboration, sales will struggle.
Also to mention, marketing campaigns need to be backed by a budget. You can’t promote to an audience these days without dishing out the money to do so. That’s why, as a channel partner, you must be able to acquire Market Development Funds (MDF) from your MSP to support your marketing programs. Without MDF, your reach will be seriously stunted.
It’s pretty simple. Find an MSP that is dedicated to providing you with the most comprehensive partner experience possible. An experience that focuses on your success. You deserve an MSP that is invested fully into their channel partner program, your relationship with them AND your customers.
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