February 24, 2021
Why a joined-up value proposition is vital for channel partner success
For a major supplier, joining forces with channel partners should be a natural win-win.
Sadly, that’s not always the case. Sometimes partnerships fail. The most common reasons being lack of joint strategy; unrealistic or vague targets; absence of fully-thought-through business processes; and scant training and technology enablement.
Holding the customer’s hand As far back as 2013, Accenture published a paper on ways to engage channel partners, which placed channel strategy third-highest among sales effectiveness initiatives. That was over six years ago and today, although we’re seeing the results of that culture shift, there’s still a way to go.
In fact, a Forbes article from 2017 explained how to leverage channel strategy for competitive advantage. It made the point that channel partner trends “may be occurring precisely because more firms are going direct to consumers, thus putting pressure on channel partners to increase their value in the supply chain.” That’s certainly true now in the IT industry where there’s a dichotomy developing between simple solutions that can be sold online or over the phone, and more complex applications that need a fair degree of hand holding. In a world that’s stampeding ever faster towards the cloud and digital transformation, suppliers of those solutions need the scalability that comes from a select, well-chosen team of channel partners.
Supplier and channel partner interlock Against that background, channels to market continue to receive huge focus, with many IT and telecom companies looking to ramp-up or re-ignite their partner programmes. The natural tendency is to launch into overdrive and throw presentations, cheat sheets, playbooks and a ton of other stuff at sales teams. What’s more important – and the piece that often gets overlooked – is creating a complementary value proposition. We usually find suppliers have their own value props.
The trouble is too little thought is given to interlocking them with partners’ value props. What’s needed is a joined-up story with a common understanding, behind which everyone can fall in line. What does good look like?
A compelling value prop must clearly explain how the joint solution gives the customer greater value (compared to engaging both companies separately or choosing a similar offer from their rivals).
Content-wise it should always contain a:
- Short, persuasive elevator pitch (for busy execs and key decision-makers)
- Clear description of the solution and services (including who does what)
- Comprehensive list of benefits
- Solid collection of proof points, such as mini-case studies and testimonials
- Compelling call-to-action
Once you’ve developed a joined-up value prop, perhaps for your website and for sales to use as a leave-behind, also think about turning it into a mobile-friendly infographic to support email and social campaigns.
Don’t stop there
But there’s one more crucial step and, in our experience, it’s likely to slip off the radar. Because a common issue is failing to communicate the channel strategy within your own company, which can result in salespeople from both sides competing to own the customer relationship. So, make sure you also create an internal value prop. You need to get people excited and create a buzz. Why is the channel partnership good for sales teams? What’s in it for them personally? Why should they make the programme a priority and push it with their clients? How do they engage and get onboard?
These are tough questions, but the ones that matter most if you’re serious about making your channel programme a success.