PRM Best Practice: Partner Segmentation

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These blogs will provide you with insights and opinions about partner relationship management from a strategic and a best practice perspective. We will also discuss RelayWare’s technologies and software and how they can be applied to help customers with common partner management challenges

Using an accreditation or certification scheme to segment a partner network or partner channel has been the norm for two decades but just because accreditation is the accepted approach does not mean that it is right for every vendor. Before you consider it, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is my objective?
  • Do I want to maximize the number of partners I recruit?
  • Conversely, do I want to recruit and retain only those partners who meet stringent criteria?
  • At what stage in the technology lifecycle is my product?
  • What do I want to measure and can I measure it?
  • Can I monitor and manage an accreditation program?
  • In who’s best interest is an accreditation program – our’s, the customer’s or the partner’ s?
  • What would compel partners to join a program?
  • What commitments will I require in return?

Accreditation programs are typically unappealing to mainstream channels because they require investment to participate and generally deliver limited rewards. By contrast, value added channels keenly embrace them because they provide a means of specialization and differentiation. Specialization is the key. VAR channels don’t want to maintain multiple accreditations unless they are complementary. It is therefore important to understand your objectives in developing and implementing such a program.

Any product’s lifecycle can be visualized using a bell curve as shown below:

The Product Lifecycle

During the formative stages, through launch and the early adopter phase, a vendor will typically sell direct or else seek to use a specialist, value added partner network or channel to help introduce the product into the mainstream. It is during this phase that an accreditation program is of most value because it provides a framework for an ‘exclusive’ partner program. Such a program strives to recruit and retain only a relatively small number of specialists. By excluding mainstream partners from gaining access to and selling the product, it encourages and protects their investment in winning and retaining their accreditation. As the market’s familiarity with the underlying technology grows and the product or underlying technology begins to enter the mainstream, a more ‘inclusive’ partner strategy is needed to drive widespread adoption and higher sales volumes.

By contrast, if your product and / or its underlying technology has already reached maturity then an accreditation program will typically be unappealing to the channel required to sell it in volume and may indeed act as a barrier to entry for your target channels.

Next time, we’ll continue the theme of partner segmentation by looking at the introduction of an accreditation program.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mike Morgan
Mike has over 20 years of ICT, OA and CE channel sales and marketing management experience and is responsible for Relayware's global go-to-market strategy as well as the sales and marketing functions while overseeing the company's operations worldwide. Mike is recognized as one of the industry's leading experts in indirect go-to-market strategy best practice.

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