Vendors Need to Revamp Channel Programs, Survey Finds

A study of 1,000 channel executives by Blueroads Corp. finds that a strategic shift is needed in partner programs to make them more effective. The emphasis should be on driving revenue rather than on channel tactics.

October 7, 2008

Al Senia

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A new survey of channel chiefs reveals that too many of those are engaged in "low-risk, low-return activities and that many vendors are botching the opportunity to turn channel partners into a critical revenue engine.

To be successful, channel executives "need to go beyond the same old activities and initiatives" and build a different kind of channel that is a "competitive and strategic asset," according to Charles Watson, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Blueroads Corp., a management solutions company that sponsored the survey.

Watson said the study of 1,000 channel executives discovered the need to transform the focus of current channel efforts. Nearly 60 percent of respondents conceded they need to spend more in sakes effectiveness programs next year. But they be spending the money in  the wrong areas.

According to the survey, 80 percent of current channel investments involve simple productivity and efficiency tasks such as training and partner communications. The focus should really be on more aggressive matters such as generating high-quality leads for channel partners and delivering them rapidly to the correct partner so that sales could be closed more expeditiously.

The survey also revealed that most channel executives are not effectively measuring or monitoring the performance of their leads or sales opportunities

"Channel chiefs like to get a lot of the soft and easy programs out of the way," said Watson. "They should turn the channel into a really competitive asset for their companies. They need to stop spending 80 to 100 percent of their resources on improving (channel) operational efficiencies."

Rather than focus on removing costs from their channel efforts, Watson added, channel executives should focus on building channel revenue, improving partner effectiveness and pushing more sales through channel partners. Vendors should focus on the goal of achieving "greater equality with direct sales (channels)" and enabling "increased visibility, empowerment and accountability in the channel."

Coaching partners on how to effectively accelerate their sales cycles, establishing protection from channel conflict with the direct sales force and measuring every partner, lead and opportunity would help focus channel sales in a more effective manner, Watson added.

The study, entitled Channel Survey: 2009 Priorities polled channel executives in several industries, including software, hardware, telecom and information services about their channel plans, investments and expectations. It was conducted for Blueroads by research firm Sirius Decisions.

TAGS: services,software,marketing,channel partners,Blueroads

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