The typical three tier approach to classifying partners as one of three precious metals is a great theoretical start to categorising partners’ according to performance. However, while it serves well for distinguishing partners based on their input to a vendors business, it says nothing of vendors’ performance and input into theirs.
“Strong, mutually-beneficial and productive relationships aren’t built with a one-sided approach, where one partner puts in more effort than another. It’s the same with partners and vendors.
“If all a partner programme does is lock-in resellers and classify them based on the amount of effort they put into a vendor’s business, it is simply a labelling initiative. When the partnership is not value-adding to the reseller, qualifying for a partner programme for the most part is just a matter of course, not a choice.
“Vendors that want to optimise their partner programmes have to ask what value they create for their partner base, go beyond the three tiers, and take a strategic and consultative approach to start delivering value. As the adage goes, ‘you get what you give’,” says Jacques Wessels, CEO of FlowCentric Technologies, a South Africa-based developer of dynamic, agile business process management (BPM) system for companies in Africa.
A lot of vendors, like FlowCentric, have realised that it does “take two to tango”. The company has long thrown out the three tier approach.
“We’ve been there and done that. It doesn’t work. Neither for us, nor our partners,” says Wessels.
He believes that vendors have a role and an opportunity to activate the channel through their partner programmes.
“Instead of simply appointing partners to solicit pipeline, vendors can use their programmes to create a quality channel through competent and empowered partners that can do justice to the technology, effectively activate customers and deliver value to them.
“We take a strategic, consultation-centric approach, creating an environment where our partners have access to our managers for support; as well as access to collateral, cases studies and other resources.
“Through strategic partnering, we are also able to bring together appropriate solutions, knowledge bases and resources to collaborate and deliver new solutions to new markets, going beyond purely product consultation to offer meaningful and credible consultation around BPM, conceptual solution development, value-adding expertise, and business strategy contribution.
“This provides a working platform where the right resources are ready and in place to look for opportunities, broker deals and orchestrate value-adding, sustainable relationships with customers.
“We know that providing strong support to partners is essential to growing and strengthening the BPM channel. We invest heavily in up-skilling partners and developing their understanding of the opportunities and best practice for BPM in different industries.
“Ultimately, partners want to be seen as strategic contributors to the vendor and the channel. Our approach to acting as a business strategist with our partners has certainly enabled a much deeper engagement with them.”
FlowCentric works with channel development partner, Blue Pencil, in activating a quality BPM channel in South Africa and into Africa. It has a presence in countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
Tallies Taljaard, Managing Director at Blue Pencil says the strategic and consultative approach FlowCentric takes to its partner programme supports the activation of a quality BPM channel.
“Without providing active support and strategic input to enable partners to deliver on initiatives, vendors risk partners opting out of partner programmes in search of greener pastures, at the expense of the channel.
“Where some vendors fall short on enablement FlowCentric is going beyond partner classification. Through the recruitment and mobilisation of effective partners FlowCentric is enabling a sustainable channel for BPM where inputs from the company to partners, and then to customers, is value-adding and strategic.
“More than just a means of tying-in resellers to the partner programme, this approach ensures buy-in. A healthy partner program exist when the channel shows sustainable growth in partner numbers, in revenue growth; and attrition is kept at a minimal,” he concludes.