Bob O’Malley of AchieveUnite and Jessica Baker discuss why a channel partner experience is so important and how to create a lifetime partnership and customer value. CompTIA and AchieveUnite collaborated earlier this year to create a common definition of the partner experience. The research revealed four key trends that have proven to be the driving force behind long-term successful partnerships. Enablement is essential today, as the power equation has moved from binary partner relationships to community-based partner ecosystems and communities. Enablement is the new currency, with tools that provide the key path to success for these ecosystems. Carolyn April, CompTIA’s ChannelCon Online speaker, will discuss the findings and other topics in a session entitled: Exploring Partner Experience Trends.
AchieveUnite sits down to discuss why it is so important for partners to have experience in the channel with Bob O’Malley (executive principal) and Jessica Baker (chief program officer) in the following article. Here’s what they had a to say:
Why not optimize your partner experience by designing your channel?
CompTIA’s “Customer Experience Trends within the Channel” research was released last year. CompTIA and its community members jointly produced this report. It revealed the methods customers use to make technology purchasing decisions. CompTIA and AchieveUnite began qualitative research a year later to examine the partner journey or to better define the ideal partner experience. Interviews with vendor and partner leaders revealed that channel power had changed from the vendor to customers, among other things. Large enterprises have always had the power to implement and deliver solutions to their customers. SMBs are gaining new power when channel solution providers are assertive in representing their interests. The truth is that technology can be “good enough.” But the way the solution provider uses technology to meet the customer’s needs is what makes the difference. Vendors are beginning to see the channel and its partners in a new light.
The LifeTime Value Lens
Vendor suppliers often view enterprise client relationships through the lense of customer lifetime value (CLV). These vendors assign highly-skilled executives to coordinate enterprise account planning and execution. Profit is maximized if the vendor can keep an enterprise customer for more than one transaction, and even for many years. Paul Brown and Carl Sewell described the concept in detail in their 1990 book, “Customers for Life.” Carl, a Dallas-area dealer of cars, described his philosophy and how he turned a $30,000 sale into a $300,000.00 customer for life. He did this by offering customers experiences that others didn’t. While other dealers could have done the same thing as Carl, they chose not to. We have the same opportunity to work with our vendor/partner relationships in the technology channel, which gives us an exceptional partner experience.
Let’s make work easier for our partners
Vendors can see what AchieveUnite calls Partner LifeTime Valu (PLTV) and how they can make their partner’s business more profitable. They reap the benefits of being trusted advisors. These vendors are able to work in tandem with their partners and conduct seamless planning. They can share their resources with partners without borders. They can view the relationship success metrics holistically. It is easy to calculate Partner LifeTime Value. It is the application CLV to partner communities. PLTV is a way to use common sense on the sales frontline and make it easier for our partners.
The Two Forces That Drive “Partner Lifetime Value”
To achieve optimal PLTV, there are two forces at work: the relationship force as well as the business connection force. The vendors will not achieve their maximum partner value if they do not have both the relationship force and the business connection force. The relationship force is the trust that the partner owners place in the vendor representative and the vendor organization. This trust is like an accumulator. Trust is earned in drops and lost in gallons. The vendor must understand that coverage consistency and representative selection are crucial. If the vendor organization or the representative makes a mistake, it can cause irreparable harm. The business connection force assesses the compatibility between the vendor’s business model and that of the partner business model. Vendors were the ones who had all the power before partners. Vendors need to work together with partners to create a business-to-business match. It’s a bit like putting together the pieces in a puzzle.