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Partner Programs from the Channel point of view

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Partner Programs from the Channel point of view

Question to VARs & VADs: what's the first feeling you have when learning about a vendor's Partner Program?...

Vendors probably dream that their potential Channel Partners read their Partner Program and think about potential business opportunities they could exploit working together. This might be true for huge guys with well-established brands and high market demand for their products. However, when talking about SMBs penetrating the new markets (either start-ups or those trying to enter a new niche market); this dream is quite far from reality.

What happens in real-life is that, first of all, potential Channel Partners rarely read the channel programs up-front - let alone think about potential mutual business development opportunities. Both VARs and VADs actually think from a completely different perspective, and their perspective is customer and product-driven.

I'm pretty sure I can pinpoint the top-5 questions these guys ask themselves when considering adding a new product to their portfolio:
- How is this going to complement with my existing product / service offering?
- Does this product address the customer needs my company is focused on?
- Will I be able to sell value-added services along with this product? Do I have the necessary expertise? If I don't - how difficult it is to learn?
- What is the tech support procedure? How much overhead is it going to generate?
- Is there a market for this product?

Most of the Partner Programs out there do not actually address these questions and rather focus on the sales margin, partner levels and co-op marketing opportunities. Thus getting back to the initial question addressed to VARs and VADs, the straightforward answer would probably be: "Oh, it's just another market bla-bla, aimed at getting me on-board, but hardly answering any of the questions I need answers to".

The problem is, Partner Program is pretty much a standard thing already - and vendors don't have much of choice choosing the format. It's almost like a disclaimer statement - people are perfectly aware of the fact no one reads them, but it just has to be there.

Coming up next: Bitrix answers to the top-5 questions stated above.
Krishna
08/31/2010 13:26:13
Partner program is a meaningless must-have paper
Thanks for the great reading Nikolai. I trust you had guts to say something many professionals tend to keep silence on. To my mind partner program is something each company should have to emphasize its commitment to business traditions. However, it would be silly to believe partner programs would influence the partner's decision to go with the vendor. When evaluating a new opportunity I prefer to rely on the market analysis and my personal intuition. The partner programs only shows me that the vendor knows the rules of the game and adheres to the adopted business practices.
Nikolay Vasiliev
08/31/2010 14:18:48
Thanks for a positive feedback
Thanks Krishna. I recall being just a new person to channel management about 6 years ago I've had a feeling partner programs are so important. However, over the years of experience, I've realized these are just a mandatory thing nobody pays much attention to. Thus, I wanted to share this vision with others to maybe help emerging vendors communicate the appropriate things to their potential channel and assist them in recruiting new partners.
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