Q: What should channel partners look for in a vendor partner program?
I'm sure you've heard WIFM – what's in it for me? The bottom line in any vendor partner program is basic business: how much money is the channel partner going to make? But the money, ease of entry and support from the vendor partner are all important in this scenario.
I'll start with money. That equals margin, the percentage of discounts the channel partner will actually get, referral fees and how the financial aspects of the program are structured.
And then there's ease of entry. How easy is it to do business with this vendor? From the channel partner's perspective, you want it to be as simple as possible.
Unfortunately some vendors have created hurdles for entry. For example, they require the channel partner to commit to volume requirements or pay for enrolling in the program. IBM proved back in the early 1980s that volume requirements can be a negative. IBM had a 92% share of the PC market, and today they aren't even a player. This is a result of IBM putting volume requirements on their channel partners, and the partners had to invest in inventory. They had more inventory than they could actually sell. So this is a problem.
The next aspect is the support. How is the vendor partner going to support the channel partner? What training, marketing support or even a dedicated program manager will they provide to ensure a successful launch when the program's actually established?
This was first published in March 2008