By Paul Whidby, EMEA Channel Sales, HP Networking
If you could strip away the complexity of some channel programs, how much time do you think would be saved? Time that could be spent doing other things – like selling!
The problem as I see it
Sometimes I look at programs and I can imagine the many people and all of the experience that has gone into developing every aspect. Each benefit, each rule, each process, each “brick” to build the program. Thinking through every aspect is important for building the foundations of a strong partner program that benefits both the vendor and resellers who invest.
However, there is a risk if complacency sets in. This risk is magnified if questioning voices are not heard loudly enough.
By complacency, I don’t mean any lack of effort. I mean if all a vendor does is add – without considering the effects that this can have on complexity and without keeping the need to remove in mind too. No matter how logical each brick might be individually, if you have too many of them, then you just end up building a “wall” – a barrier to sales, rather than a structure that is practical and workable for all concerned.
Think about how easy it is for that complacency to happen. Everyone wants to make an impression, to show the value that they are adding. And with as much change as there is in IT, it’s also likely that additions are needed periodically. Questioning the status quo doesn’t often have as much impact or the same prestige as adding something new. And changing the status quo can be just as much hard work, perhaps even more.
Channel programs are developed for good reason – to benefit both vendors and resellers. They provide structure that enables sales to scale. They provide an incentive/framework for both a vendor and reseller to invest – to sales enable and motivate resellers, and to enable differentiation for those who participate.
But it doesn’t seem right somehow if there are so many programs, just for one technology (such as networking) that they cannot be simply explained in one diagram.
Who has the time to keep learning about all of the new “bricks” just for one vendor in one technology?
Not only is this a barrier to business development and selling, it also undermines the strength of the program itself. Does it really matter how long a theoretical list of benefits is. . . if reaching them is like an obstacle course. And if it’s so difficult to benefit from them all that even for the lucky few who do, sales activities are damaged as a result.
I think it’s fair to say that HP Networking technology is known for features and performance. But what is perhaps less well known is the dedication and focus that is placed on making these technologies easier to use. This quiet innovation is less glamorous, but to my mind is one of the most profound. Why shouldn’t it be simpler? Why shouldn’t customers be able to focus on innovating on their businesses, rather than spending all their time and money just to keep the lights on?
I would challenge that the design of channel programs should aim for the same: keep it simple.
Why should so much time and energy be spent “keeping the lights on” – both for the vendor and the partner? Why not keep it as simple as possible? Why not keep the focus on sales?
This is why, in addition to looking at where we need to add and enhance, I’m continually asking: Is this adding value? Do we really need this? Broadly speaking, the “so what” questions.
This is why the current HP Networking Channel Program is designed with the same things in mind: to design a compelling program that is easy to understand and manage yet still offers opportunity for our partners to differentiate and reap rewards with real added value.
This is why, despite those improvements, I continue to ask those same questions. And this is why competition is a good and necessary thing for networking channel programs. What do you think?