IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

The Best Cloud Vendors Support the Channel ... and Enable Partners

No partner program is perfect, but some deliver more of what channel pros need to profit from the rise of cloud computing. By Zane Long

I’M GOING TO BE UP-FRONT and state what you probably already know: Some cloud vendors don’t have ideal channel programs.

Yep, I said it. That problem has led to some misconceptions among channel partners about vendors, and I’m here to set the record straight. For those wary of investing time and effort in relationships with vendors, don’t fear—you too can profit from the continuing rise of cloud computing. It requires a shift in thinking, though, about what you should be looking for in a vendor. Let me start by debunking some of the common myths I often hear in the channel community.

Myth No. 1: Channel Conflict Is Inevitable

While an understandable concern, channel conflict isn’t part of how every vendor does business. It does, however, indicate the extent to which a vendor values its partners. When vetting channel programs, check out what the vendor does to eliminate channel conflict and how its rules of engagement apply by segment, vertical, and deal size.

What you should look for is a program that promotes harmony among partners and the vendor’s vertical- and segment-specific subject matter experts by encouraging them to work side by side. The right vendor will also have measures in place to protect deals from the direct sales team and make transacting business easy. Most important, the vendor will pay 100 percent commissions to both its channel partners and subject matter experts for joint efforts in closing a deal. Do a little Googling and you’ll see which vendors prioritize making transactions easy, fair, and free of conflict.

Myth No. 2: You Can’t Make Money with Cloud Services

If I had to give channel partners one piece of advice, this would be it: Move to the cloud to stay competitive in today’s changing technology marketplace. Businesses of every size and type are realizing that cloud solutions are best positioned to support the modern workforce. As a result, they’re shifting business functions, such as their communications, to the cloud.

To avoid being left behind, partners must build a portfolio of cloud-first offerings. And to collect long-term ROI on cloud customer relationships, they must work with vendors they can trust to offer a reliable product backed by deep sales support and enablement resources. Successful cloud vendors choose to fund, enable, and reward the right behaviors in the right partners—those who are going to drive revenue and who are accountable, responsive, and totally buy into the vendor’s solution.

Myth No. 3: Vendors Are Not Investing in the Channel

Generally speaking, when I hear about a vendor not winning in its market, the underlying issue is a perception that selling through the channel is risky. The truth, however, is that partners are trusted business advisers who have spent years establishing and maintaining customer relationships. How could that ever be a bad thing?

Cloud vendors that understand this dynamic and recognize its potential are the ultimate winners, because an investment in the channel is an investment in relationships. Partners know how to influence decision makers at the organizations that vendors hope to secure as customers. The bottom line is that the operational and programmatic efforts needed to scale and support channel programs are well worth it and can drive recording-breaking revenue for all parties involved.

Partners should seek vendors that believe in the channel and what it can contribute to their sales organization and their overall business. Forward-thinking vendors invest in building a world-class channel with a fully committed leadership team.

What Makes a Great Partnership?

As the business demand for cloud solutions increases, vendors must engage and collaborate with the channel on a global scale. That commitment is critical to their ongoing advancement. Vendors that are investing in global growth are the ones partners should latch onto, because it demonstrates a recognition of the channel’s value as well as a dedication to supporting its continued growth.

ZANE LONG is the vice president of global channel sales at RingCentral. Long brings more than 25 years of leadership and management experience in the telecom and software industry, 15 of those years creating and leading successful national and international channel sales programs.

Opening image: Pixabay

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