Over the past 10 years I have worked and still work with many channel focussed technology vendors. Most if not all vendors understand their top tier partners very well but conversely know very little about their lower tier partners. Personally I think they might be missing a trick.
In order to achieve significant, meaningful growth vendors operating in a mature market need a long reach and to achieve that they need a motivated, loyal and active ‘wider base’ of partners. Unless a vendor knows its lower tier well enough identifying their future stars is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Here are some questions I think vendors should know the answers to for all of their partners, both big and [currently] small:
- What’s their overall revenue? Where does that come from?
- Who are the key execs relevant to your relationship? When did you last speak with them? What’s their perception of you as a vendor?
- What is their current set-up? How many employees do they have? How many of those are sales people?
- What’s their strategy? What are their business goals? Do they align with yours?
- Do they have a sales resource dedicated to you? What about for other vendors? If not why not? If yes how effective are they being?
- What’s their marketing capability like? Do they have dedicated marketing resource focussed on lead generation for their sales team?
- What technical experience and skills does the partner have?
- Which industry verticals does the partner focus on and could this fill a gap in your customer base?
- Who else are they working with? What do they like about working with these vendors?
- Who is spending small sums with you, but placing larger orders with your competitors?
- What’s stopping them from doing more with you? What would make them start?
If you had answers to these questions [and maybe a few others] do you think you could accurately pick who are the next best 100, 500, or 1000 partners that merit your attention? And could you better design a program to turns them into tomorrow’s heroes?
If you do & you could, then that’s pretty powerful…