Net-Results believes in and has built a strong channel. It’s one of our core strategies for ensuring customer success with our marketing automation platform; working with partners who complement our technology and who drive greater revenue success for our customers.
Sounds simple enough, right? It is. As long as you truly believe in, trust and, in turn, are trustworthy to your channel, things should go well with your partner ecosystem. However, a number of companies who (in theory) utilize this strategy soon find themselves destroying the channel relationships they’ve built. Here’s a quick list of the top four channel destroying moves we’ve observed.
1. Not Treating Your Partners Like Your Customers
I’m fascinated when I hear stories from partners about vendors who treat them like second-class citizens. No call backs. No responses to product questions. No support for a particular client of theirs (oh, and of the vendor’s too, by the way). In many ways, your partners are more important than your customers. If you have built your partner channel correctly, your partners are imperative to your success with your customers. Treat your partner(s) wrong, and there’s a solid chance all of their/your customers will eventually go away.
2. Stealing Customers From Your Partners (Taking Their Customers Direct)
What? This would never in a million years happen, right? Wrong. It happens all the time. Taking your partners’ customers direct is the fastest way to obliterate any good will you have with your channel. Partners talk. They talk to other partners and to other vendors. If word gets out that you stole a partner’s customer, you have lost all credibility with your current and future partners. Oh yeah, and it’s not really ethical to do that as well. So don’t go there. Don’t even think about it.
3. Don’t Help Them Sell
I have seen this happen quite a bit as well. The vendor does a massive recruiting campaign to build his channel, promising all kinds of support in helping the partner close deals. However, once the vendor brings on the partner, they somehow “don’t have any availability” to help close deals. The vendor says it’s on the partner to bring the customers in; that they need to “earn their commissions” and should not be wasting the vendor’s time. Guess what, vendor? You never would have met that prospect if it wasn’t for that partner. Take the time and help make them a happy customer. And pay your partner the full commission. It will pay off in spades in the long run.
4. Nickel-and-Diming Them
This is the “death by a thousand cuts” approach to killing your channel. The executive summary is: don’t be a cheapskate. There are going to be times that your partner requests special assistance that generally has a financial element to it. Listen to them and treat them like you would a valued employee needing support. Sometimes the partner needs some concession on margin. Give it to them on an as-needed basis. Sometimes the partner needs some assistance in the sale. Give it to them. And, as stated above, pay your partners the full commission.
If you are a company relying on your channel to drive growth and awareness, your partners are, perhaps, your most valuable assets. You probably need them more than they need you. Keep that in mind with each interaction with your partners. Don’t “do” any of the above four (4) actions and always listen to their input/feedback. You’ll be happy you did.