In order for high tech companies to maximize the return on their partner resources, they must understand the true value generated by their partner ecosystem. Understanding partner revenue influence as well as the cost of partner programs and account management enables you to confidently determine where to invest in partner programs and alliances.
Most companies don’t take this analytical approach to the business and view the partner channel as a business enabler vs. an engine for growth. Just as you wouldn’t continue to produce a product where you didn’t understand the revenue generated and cost to manufacture, you should question a partner organization that can’t represent the partner ecosystem value to the rest of the business.
Engage the right partners with the right resources
Consider your partner program and alliance management effectiveness. Have you calculated the revenue influenced by existing partners? Are there opportunities to better align partner program incentives with your new product initiatives? Are there cash cow areas of the business that can be efficiently serviced through programs rather than (more expensive) account management? Are account management and marketing resources driving net new revenue or merely sustaining existing relationships?
Leverage the partner ecosystem as a strategic asset
The partner team is often in a strategic position (organizationally) to correlate product roadmaps, customer needs, and partner assets in order to drive company growth. Significant unmet market opportunities can be addressed by partnering with others if you forecast market potential and develop a vision of where the business will grow. What are your high growth market segments for the next few years? What sub-segments could grow faster by partnering with industry specialists? What adjacent markets could be opened by developing new partners? How are you actively recruiting partners in new market segments?
Align alliance management and marketing resources
Certain partners will warrant support beyond the standard partner programs, including account management and joint marketing. This is usually an unpublished alliance or managed partner tier that is supported by partner account managers and a marketing budget. Are you prioritizing those resources based on incremental revenue opportunity as (well as strategic alignment with your product initiatives)? Have you developed objective criteria on which to assess alliance partner value? Have you considered loyalty, customer satisfaction, partner program commitment, revenue impact? Do you align account management resources with net new revenue potential and implement the account planning and execution processes needed throughout the year to hold partners (and internal teams) accountable?
These ideas should help tune your partner resources to achieve the greatest company impact. Be aware of internal biases that develop over time (e.g., historical partner relationships, internal politics). Consider independent (external) perspective and structured tools (Partner Mapping) to accelerate your time-to-insight.