Traditional channel management is still around and they are still trying to convince the world that it still works and it’s how it should be.
We speak to vendors every single day who are stuck in that way of thinking that they should own all parts of the portal and be in control of all sides of it.
Ask any partner if they like logging into 20 different portals a day and they will laugh right at you.
Vendors implement these solutions and wonder why the partners don’t login, let alone use it.
There are many of these traditional vendors about that are struggling to pivot to the new ways of doing things but what we do know is that vendors are moving away from these solutions at rapid rates.
Having previously implemented one of those solutions at a previous vendor, the feedback was atrocious even after spending in excess of $100k+ including customisation, migration and implementation. The contract lasted for a year and was cut at the earliest opportunity.
Why was this?
Traditional partner management looks something like this:
Vendor A buys a portal that is only for their partners to access. The partners will only go there if there is something from that vendor for them. Be that leads, collateral, training materials etc. If there is no activity with that vendor, the partner has no reason to go there.
Vendor B buys the same portal from the same channel solution provider, they implement it and their partners are given access. This is another portal for the partner to login to.
The average partner works with 20 vendors so we can easily see why it becomes tiring for the partner to be going from vendor website to vendor website and login to each portal separately.
In addition to this, the partner is only going to login when they have something specific to do with that vendor.
A new partnership which is a non priority partnership for the partner soon gets neglected and it becomes hard to get traction because the partner just forgets about the vendor and it falls to the bottom of the pile.
The only reason these types of solutions still exist is because the traditional vendors are finding it difficult to pivot to a new way of doing things.
People buy these solutions because this is all that has existed for the past 20 years.
Partners do not like these portals. They see it as another drain on resources when they have to maintain a list of portals that they work with.
We have examples of major, global resellers that have a webpage that they have build which is simply a page of links to all of the vendors portals that they work with. Every one of the portals are not consistent with each other and it’s the most time consuming, unnecessary part of the job for this particular reseller.
Nothing is connected to anything in traditional partner management. Everything is owned by the vendor which again creates a problem for being able to run email campaigns as the partner from inside the portal.
If the vendor owns all of the data within the traditional solution that the vendor has purchased, the partners are not able to import their own list of marketing targets into the system because it would breach GDPR.
We’ve heard of the traditional vendors trying to do this before and falling down at the first hurdle in certain regions around the globe. One vendor told us that it could only be used in APAC for generating leads.
The new way of doing this:
The new way of doing this involves the single pane of glass method.
The single pane of glass involves bringing everything together under one roof for the partner and distributor to manage all from one solution.
Sticking with the traditional channel management for the vendor, they still have consistency and something they are used to from their side. The difference being, they own their side of the portal but not the partner / distributor side.
The distributors take ownership of their side of the portal which allows it to be used to manage all of their vendors in one login. Every time a vendor starts using the single pane of glass solution and adds the respective distributor into the system, that vendor becomes available to the distributor within the portal with total consistency with the other vendors already in the system.
The distributor is able to manage their own partner reach in the same solution. Lets say they have a reach of 5,000 partners within their territory and they work with 40 vendors. They can have all 5,000 in the single pane of glass solution and split those partners across the vendors that they work with. In addition to this, they can market towards their own database to onboard the partners for the vendors in their portfolio.
Going a step below the distributor, the partners in the system have the same style interface with one login to access of their vendor and distributors. The partner owns their side of the system and can thus bring in their marketing lists and run joint campaigns with distributors / vendors from the portal for vendors in their portfolio. Simple right?
It doesn’t seem so simple because nobody has done this for as long as the channel has been around.
One login, one portal, all vendors, all distributors, campaigns for vendor lead generation, to partner marketing, through partner marketing, with partner marketing all with an existing database of partners and distributors to market to.
Campaigns can be targeted towards partners outside of the scope of the vendor database to onboard new partners as well as find the most suitable partner for a lead.
Having everything tied together as opposed to separate solution that are owned purely by the vendor allows for matching features that can determine who is the best partner for a particular opportunity as well as which partners would be suited to the types of solutions that the vendor works with.
Its time to move away from traditional thinking and move into an ecosystem mindset!
There are several vendors now with the ecosystem mindset. We’ve spoken with several of them and they are looking at things from a different way.
I like to split them into vertical and horizontal ecosystems.
There is Workspan who are involved with co-selling from vendor to vendor with multiple partners involved on the deals. They have a solid approach to co-selling. Example I have seen of how they do things are great. I would class Workspan as a horizontal ecosystem player that brings the vendors together and/or the reseller together. Something that hasn’t been possible with the traditional channel management vendors.
We also have Crossbeam who are very good at matching opportunities to partners based on existing relationships. Their account mapping is fantastic. The partners upload the data they are comfortable uploading and the system matches them to opportunities that are pushed through Crossbeam. I would put Crossbeam into a vertical ecosystem with the magic happening from vendor to reseller.
Then there is ourselves, Channelyze which I class as a vertical ecosystem solution that brings together everyone in one place whilst maintaining the traditional channel models. Everyone is connected in some way, whether that be through a mutual distributor of two vendors or via a handful of partners that work with two different vendors. Having the single pane of glass allows us to do some advanced calculations such as which partner is going to be able to position a certain vendor based on their existing relationships and deals. Maintaining the traditional channel structure but tying everything together is the only way to provide that single pane of glass whilst also allowing for new channel models to be introduced with ease.