Feature: How vendors can foster better relationships with partners

By Ghazal Asif, Vice President, Global Partners & Alliances, Rubrik.

Nurture is a vital part of any relationship. Ongoing commitment is what keeps the union fruitful so both parties can prosper – and it’s no different in business. Great partner relationships can bring a host of benefits to vendors, such as extra value, mitigated risks, boosted opportunities, shared skills and, of course, maximised revenue.

Yet, many vendor partnership programmes are outdated, and we’ve seen somewhat slow progress in this area over the last decade. For tech organisations, and the channel ecosystem, in particular,  fostering better vendor-partner relationships is essential to building business resilience and driving growth.

Solving the partner programme puzzle has long been on the agenda for vendors and suppliers. Tackling this issue is a worthy ambition, but it’s not simple.

Remember every partner is unique

For businesses, investing in reseller relationships is a no-brainer, but it’s difficult to know where to start. That’s because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to partner programmes, so it’s easy for them to become complex.

From onboarding processes to enablement activities, programmes need to be tailored for channel partners to not only help them understand your business’ services, but to get their buy-in too. It’s important to remember that, just like end-customers, partners have a huge amount of choice in whom they do business with.

However, avoiding these programmes from becoming too convoluted and intensive is key.  So it’s best to have an agnostic programme in place to act as a springboard, which you can then mould for different vendor partners.

Do your research and listen

It sounds very back to basics, but it’s a guiding principle in business; it pays to be prepared. Try to understand what it is your partners are looking for and need from you as a vendor. If you begin your partnership journey by being proactive through research, you’ll build trust quickly and establish a firm bond. Ultimately, doing some upfront work will help you meet their needs sooner.

Vendors can gain a lot from listening to channel partners; finding out what their business goals are, how much support they need and what their pain points are all help to paint a picture. That way, as a vendor, you can put yourself in their shoes and learn more about what’s important to them. That then leads to being able to answer the question, “How do I make doing business and turning a profit with us as easy as possible?” This creates a win/win situation for both parties..

Don’t forget smaller partners

While retaining a good relationship with incumbent larger resellers is a high priority for many vendors, it’s important to recognise smaller partners and cater for them too. Many assume size and scale equate to big rewards, but that’s not always the case.

Underestimating the smaller fish in the pond could mean your business is missing out on lots of opportunities. For example, the benefits of having a trusted single point of contact or a more personalised service, which end-customers greatly appreciate. All large partners were small once, and newer partners could grow exponentially in the coming years. According to a recent Canalys poll, 59% of channel partners are adding headcount in 2023.

Encourage value-add and differentiation

Right now, we’re in a transitional period with many partners moving from hardware to software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud-based subscriptions, which opens up further scope for innovation in the sector. Channel partners are looking for vendors that can not only help their end-customers take advantage of emerging technologies, but also support their own brand goals and differentiation.

Vendors should be open-minded to hearing from partners about potential opportunities. With resellers’ ears to the ground, they will likely spot gaps in the market. So, there’s every reason to encourage partners to develop proactive solutions to industry challenges. And collaboration is often the key to coming up with more creative, value-adding ideas.

Rubrik Zero Labs recent report found that 48% of organisations switched vendors or third-party relationships to create better outcomes, and 54% increased spending on new technologies or services to proactively protect their business. Imagine if your channel partners helped you effectively grab a slice of that pie simply because you fostered a better relationship with them.

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