John Antunes, director of SME & channels at SAP UKI explores how the channel can collaborate
In a fiercely competitive market, facing a triple dip recession, having an efficient channel to market is more valuable than ever.
With a strong relationship and understanding of end users, partners can add value to vendors’ offerings and solution portfolios, ensuring their relevance to customers. Yet with ever increasing demand, vendors are also facing heightened pressure to provide partners with the support they require to develop and maintain market share.
More so than ever we find ourselves in an environment where collaboration is a necessity, finding ways in which the partner and vendor relationship can be one of dynamic, free flowing discussion based on opportunities and challenges currently impacting sales.
One way in which a collaborative relationship between vendors and partners can add value is in the ability to share insight and knowledge in order to focus on areas in which we can still expect to see growth. Our responsibility as a vendor to monitor trends and market changes goes hand-in-hand with our channel partners’ direct conversations with customers. As we reach the end of a year, it’s the perfect time to re-focus efforts in areas we know will continue to flourish in 2013.
Part of this focus on emerging and consistent opportunities could also involve developing specialised skill-sets. There is value to be had in developing partners to become specialised in specific product or solution sets. Something which many partners are already welcoming is the opportunity to become a strategic partner for our cloud solutions, for example. Honing in on the opportunity the market presents and the continuous innovation we are committed to delivering to our existing solutions, our partners are keen to become experts in focused fields. This adds value to our ecosystem in that we can rely upon key channel partners to deliver a consistent message and service to our end users. Partners are also benefitting from expanding on the current solutions they work with in order to develop a full product suite to resell.
Of course the approach to becoming more focused and specialised requires some investment from vendors through both education and the provision of incentives. I am of the opinion that such initiatives shouldn’t be used as a route to collaboration, rather they should be the extra value provided by the vendor as a result of a decision to focus on specific markets or specialise in services. There is no doubt that ongoing support and rewards for partners which are working with vendors is well-received and important in building on the relationship between both parties.
It’s easy for vendors to forget the importance of maintaining an ongoing relationship with regular contact, instead opting to provide partners with the products and supporting materials they need. However, as competition continues to rise – particularly within the technology space – this encouragement needs to be high on the agenda, not just in silo but also in promoting a collaborative approach between partners, working together to achieve their common goal.
With the channel providing a greater appetite for learning, sharing of industry knowledge, experience and expertise amongst partners is becoming increasingly common and important in driving sales. Adding value to these relationships is vital as we approach the New Year.