Ease of Doing Business Starts With Partners
If vendors want high-performing channel programs, they must seek out and remove the friction caused by complexity.
By Julie Parrish
Editor’s Note: The following is the preface to The 2112 Group’s new research, “2019 Ease of Doing Business Report,” written by the chairperson of our advisory board, Julie Parrish. The full report is available in the 2112 Library.
When it comes to managing a complex partner ecosystem, channel chiefs and managers have no shortage of strategic demands and operational issues. The overriding challenge: Identify issues to resolve first with the intent of having the biggest impact on and measurable increase in returns.
In my experience, “ease of doing business” – or, rather, lack thereof – is one of the “silent” inhibitors of successful, long-term relationships with channel partners. It’s often overlooked in favor of addressing product margins, channel conflict, and demand generation. But if you get it right, ease of doing business will have a meaningful, positive impact on share of wallet with your partners.
What does “ease of doing business” mean?
From what I’ve gleaned In my experience as a channel chief at Symantec and NetApp, ease of doing business sits at the intersection of optimized user experience and continuous improvement. Being “easy” means that you and your company understand all of the touchpoints that partners have with your organization and that you’re continually optimizing the operational aspect of your programs and policies to reduce friction along the way.
If it takes a partner six hours to get a quote from you and one hour to get a quote from your competitor, which quote will likely end up in front of the customer? That’s not subjective; it’s real dollars that you’re losing.
A mistake many channel leaders make is adding complexity to their programs in an effort to differentiate themselves from competitors. They add layers of processes, partnership tracks and requirements, and unique systems and tools, to make their channel program look unique, comprehensive, and mature. In the process, they add complexity and friction that lower the ease of doing business quotient (or increase the level of difficulty).
The key to improving ease of doing business is to firmly put yourself into partners’ shoes to understand their experience with your organization, systems, and processes. How much time does it take to apply for your program, register a deal, apply for market development funds (MDF), receive compensation and reimbursements, and configure quotes? What can you do to reduce that time and the number of steps involved?
As a channel leader, I found it difficult to sort through the vast array of market studies, satisfaction surveys, and research reports for information that was both relevant to my business and actionable. Ease of doing business is a topic that’s relevant to all vendors, regardless of their technology offerings, go-to-market models, markets served, or maturity and size of channel ecosystems. In the 2019 Ease of Doing Business Report, The 2112 Group provides an insightful, in-depth look at the topic from the partner’s perspective to guide you to the areas of your business that you should look to for optimization. I encourage you to take the time to digest the findings and look for ways to reduce friction in your programs, policies, and processes.
Julie Parrish is the COO and CMO of security software vendor RedSeal and chairperson of the 2112 advisory board. She previously served as CMO of NetApp and Check Point Software Technologies, and as head of global channels at NetApp and Symantec, and she’s held several channel and marketing leadership positions at Veritas, 3Com, Nokia, Unisys, and Hewlett-Packard. Parrish has also lectured on channel operations and management at the University of California Berkeley and Stanford University.