Elevating Channel Effectiveness for the Cloud

Want an engaged channel? First, show partners the benefits of teaming up with you; then train them, communicate with them, measure their performance, and reward them.

By Michele P. Warren

The cloud may be revolutionary in changing how technology is delivered and consumed, but that doesn’t mean vendors have to reinvent the wheel to sell cloud applications and services successfully. The channel – VARs, systems integrators, MSPs, influencers, and the like – still offer the best route to market.

On the other hand, vendors need to look beyond traditional legacy channel mindsets, and help partners do the same, explained Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst at The 2112 Group, during yesterday’s Mindmatrix Webinar, “10 Essential Elements for Building a Cloud Channel.” Selling the cloud is different from selling hardware and software. The margins are slimmer; persistent engagement with customers is key; and, perhaps most noteworthy of all, the sales focus isn’t on a product but on a business outcome.

[ctt tweet=”Learn about essential elements for building a #CloudChannel with @MindMatrix & @lmwalsh2112″ coverup=”_YbeU”]

Narrowing the list of essential elements to 10 (actually, 11) was a difficult exercise for Walsh, who said there are quite a few things to keep in mind when building a cloud channel. But here are the high points:

1. Offer a product or service that’s relevant to both customers and partners.

2. Think of your cloud offerings as Legos. Partners should be able to “create a lot of cool things with them,” Walsh said, but they require vision and direction to do so. Think extensibility.

3. Give partners a reason to want to work with you, whether that’s the relevancy of your product, its extensibility, or some combination thereof.

4. Recognize the variety of models for interacting with partners. Keep an open mind to the emerging “influencer” paradigm.

5. Be clear on the economic opportunity for partners in selling your cloud products and services.

6. Make sure partners have a way to manage the cloud systems they’re selling.

7. Build a portal that’s clean, uncluttered, and highly functional – one that gives partners information, resources, and enablement tools. Don’t set it and forget it; portals require “care and feeding,” Walsh said.

8. Reduce partners’ perception of risk by training them. They want to know what they’re selling and how they can become cloud experts.

9. The average partner lacks sales and marketing acumen. Give them the marketing plans, best practices, resources, and know-how they need to be successful selling your products.

10. Measure partner performance and offer rewards for a job well-done. Bear in mind that performance isn’t all about revenue. Emphasize the importance of high-touch customer engagement and a positive customer experience.

11. Communicate with partners. And remember that communication isn’t a one-way street. By all means, put mechanisms in place to transmit information to partners, but receiving feedback from them is critical as well.

For more information about the Webinar, contact Kevin Hospodar at kevin.hospodar@mindmatrix.net.

Michele Warren

Michele P. Warren  is the managing editor at The 2112 Group.
You can connect with her on LinkedIn.