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Relayware Partner Relationship Management

The Enemy of Vendor Channel Optimism: a Persistent Lack of Visibility

Posted on February 17, 2014 by Chris Bucholtz

Numbers are wonderful things, which is why I like the study done by CompTIA and Baptie & Company last year. The survey asked partners and vendors about their objectives and projections for the coming year.  The survey showed that vendors are putting an increasing emphasis on the channel and relying on their channel programs.

When asked about their expectations for revenue derived from indirect channels over the next 12 months, 74 percent of the vendors surveyed said they expected it to increase. Only four percent said it would decrease. These numbers are a testimony to the optimism of vendors and the potential of the channel.

But there’s also a need to adjust to turn optimism into reality. Of the same sample, 60 percent said they projected a net change in vendor partner program offerings.

There was also an optimistic take on how channel programs will grow. Only six percent of vendors said they would recruit a significant number of net new partners. Another 71 percent, however, said they would recruit selected partners to address key markets and geographies. Heading in another direction. 11 percent said they would reduce their partner bases to focus on a smaller number of their most effective partners. And 64 percent of respondents said they’d be increasing the number of partners they’d be working with in the coming year (while 42 percent of partner organizations said they’d be increasing the number or vendors they worked with).


Clearly, there’s a difference in strategies and outlooks for vendors selling through the channel. But these strategies, outlooks and ambitions can all come to naught without something simple: visibility.

It’s one thing to express your intentions in a survey. It’s another to put those intentions into action. In order to do that, you need visibility into your channel programs and your partners. For example, if you plan to focus on your top-performing partners this year, you first need to define what “top-performing” means, then segment and identify your top-performing partners in a coherent way – by revenue, by market, by geography and so on. If your partner program is large, this kind of segmentation is very difficult to do without automation.

Similarly, the optimistic view companies have of channel program growth could be complicated by a manually-administered on-boarding and training process. Businesses that achieve a dramatic jump in number of partners may discover their current processes simply don’t scale from a management perspective. Again, automation can solve that problem.

Clearly, the channel is seen as something that will add revenues to the bottom line for vendors – but without an investment in the tools needed to measure, analyze and refine channel program performance, it will be very hard for vendors to make the most of the opportunity so many of them see.