How to Create a High Touch Channel Program — One That Works for Both the Vendor and the Channel. It’s a Critical Balance.
By Andy Miller, Managing Partner at True North Advisory
In my previous blog, I discussed how early stage companies should be focused during a recession/economic pullback. In this article I will go in depth in creating a high touch channel program.
At True North, many of our clients have or are in the process of building out a partner framework/program that combines both a high touch from the vendor as well as ownership by the channel.
While this may sound elementary, the balance of ownership of the customer is one that sets apart programs and ultimately success.
In my early days at Cisco, we chose to name this type of program “high touch via selective distribution”. In simple terms it meant allowing the sales teams to have a relationship with the end user while at the same time allowing the partner to have a platform to articulate their brand, voice and thought leadership. The vendors that master the balance between account intimacy and channel empowerment are the ones that have the highest close rates, account and partner satisfaction, and repeatable transactions.
At True North we have seen all the go-to-market models at play. Purely direct, purely channel and the high touch model. Depending upon the type of channel being used such as VAR, Master Agent, System Integrator, Distribution partner as an example. Each scenario and approach with the channel needs to be tailored to the abilities of the partner.
The reason for starting with a channel framework prior to the implementation of a channel program, is there is work to be done to segment each type of partner, and assess not only what their capabilities are but what type of support is needed to achieve success. Depending upon the type of technology (simple or complex), will depend on how to craft the required support needed for the partner. Elements such as technical training, partner portal, partner certification are all examples of support elements as well as the GTM elements such as sales playbooks, data informed targeting, and vertical market use cases.
We have seen many of our clients pre True North involvement that have over rotated on the channel only GTM model, and not making the proper investments and resources in what is needed to achieve success, as well as allowing the channel full empowerment with the end user. Our belief, research and results all speak to a model that is both high touch to the end user, and proper support and empowerment to the channel.
The balance of co-selling and co-marketing is one that is based not only on the underlying elements of a channel framework, but also requires a trust level between the vendor’s sales teams and the channel. Both parties must have the ‘ customer first’ focus/belief, and that there is not ‘ one owner’ of an account, but the understanding of how a vendor/trusted channel partnership leads to greater customer intimacy for the long term, and greater repeatable results.
At True North, we believe we have the proven experience in the Enterprise/ Service Provider marketplace, and a world class partner framework and executable model that allows for this high touch model and selective distribution to deliver market exceeding results. Contact us at True North for a dialogue about our GTM High Touch framework.