This week’s Ask the Expert is answered by Kamal Mokrani, Global Vice President at InfiNet Wireless.
Ask the Expert: What benefits come from running a partner programme?
Engaging both sides into a truly and mutually beneficial relationship is the biggest benefit of a partnership. Of course, sales are at the top of the list in the sense that you are running a business, not a charity – there is no point of having a business relationship if nothing comes out of it.
When it comes to our partners, we add value to their business and vice-versa, not just by sharing information about products or services, but also by sharing market intelligence, trends in the market, or new technologies we may be developing. By inviting them to contribute to the strategic direction we are taking as a company, it adds a huge benefit to us. It is a two-way relationship, and once the trust and appreciation of the relationship has been established by the two parties, sales happen almost automatically.
Making relationships realistic
Success in running partner programmes comes from making them achievable and realistic. Nothing productive comes from putting one-way conditions on a partner and then still expecting them to deliver if the entire ecosystem has not been put in place first. The key to a strong and lasting partnership is to add significant value to the partner’s own business. It is not just about demanding loyalty or minimum monthly sales figures, as these factors aren’t conducive if you’re trying to create a trusted relationship. If a partner is the right one acting as a flexible and supportive company to work with paves the way for a strong and long-term relationship.
Partner conferences have multiple facets to them. Firstly from the supplier’s point of view, you must give all partners and participants the same, consistent message and picture of what the company has done in the past and more importantly what it is going to do in the future – in terms of roadmaps and new product developments.
Secondly, I’m a great believer in constructive criticism. I always like to encourage people to tell us what they like about us, but more importantly what they don’t like about us. Conferences are the perfect place to network and gain feedback, ultimately leading us to continuously seek to improve everything we do.
Remoteness shouldn’t be an issue
We have many partners located in all corners of the world, and the worst thing that can happen is for them to feel isolated. Communicating with them as regularly as possible is important. Setting aside a few hours a week just to speak to them on the phone – not just for the sake of it – but to keep them informed on what we’re doing, any changes we are making to our products or our approach, and any success stories we have, as well listening to their local markets changes and challenges. There are numerous ways to keep the channels well informed.
Communication between you and the partner is crucial for any lasting and trusting relationship. If you don’t do this people get diverted into other directions, so keeping the momentum going after any conference or meeting is easier said than done. I travel extensively to visit our partners. It not only shows we are committed to what we are doing with them but also that we are keen to keep the relationship going. Staying in touch is crucial to managing channel partners. One has to maintain their level of interest and keep them committed and interested in our brand and business.
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