The importance of a positive customer experience is a mantra that has long been chanted in the corridors of companies. In any B2B environment, there is great emphasis on vendors and resellers to value their end customers and build strong relationships with them.
In many ways, customer experience is the (new) heartland of marketing. Where sectors are commoditised and highly competitive, brand experience can differentiate organisations and drive loyalty and reputation. Customers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a better customer experience and 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service.
However, if your customers are unhappy with the service they are receiving, they’re increasingly likely to take their business elsewhere… and you might not even know about it until they are gone!
But let’s not forget, this same process and perception is also prevalent in the channel and we can take all this vital CX information and apply it to partners… hence we need a deeper understanding and acceptance of the importance of Partner Experience (PX). Vendors absolutely need to place the same importance on ensuring a positive, collaborative, personalised experience for their partners if they want to drive the same positive outcomes from them. But the thing is, there isn’t the same drumbeat behind this process and it really isn’t given anywhere near as much airtime.
Which, when you think about it, is really odd, because the endgame is the same. Happy partners = more sales. And better partner experience = happier partners = increased partner loyalty = less chance of losing your partners to your competitors. It really is that simple.
It’s why at The Channel Agency, we believe that:
It’s not what your partners can do for you. It’s what you can do for them.
Like customers before them, partners are now taking back some control – and vendors must recognise this and respond appropriately. It’s about understanding what partners need and then providing it in the right ways, at the right time. Understanding them and their business priorities and responding to their needs. Rather than constantly demanding things of them – things that don’t align to their objectives. When you understand your partners and demonstrate a genuine two-way relationship that puts them at the heart of things, that’s when you will win and that’s when you will see an upturn in response from them.
With so much choice available to customers, fuelled by rapid technological change and commercial innovation, a trusted partner can make the world of difference. A staggering 75% of the world’s commerce occurs via partners, who call on their unique knowledge of local markets and depth of customer relationships to better position your products and services, in order to sell more. But in a tough, saturated, competitive environment, they appreciate any help you can give them! Especially if you want them to stay motivated.
Successful vendors will be those that take the time to discover what makes their partners tick, their objectives and priorities… and be flexible and sensitive to any change. A solid, strategic Partner Experience is essential to achieve this. That trains not just on tech, but also on sales cycles and techniques, with examples of success, with marketing support, tools and ensuring that actual people are on hand to respond in a timely and professional manner. Ultimately, partners must have everything they need to sell and market your stuff – and be rewarded along the way. In short, there must be something in it for them… because, sorry to say, it’s not about you, it’s absolutely all about them.
Ask yourself: are you truly giving each partner the best possible experience when they work with your company?
Achieving this depends on you treating each and every partner like an individual, as part of a culture of continuous improvement. This personal approach should permeate every pore of your relationship. By talking to them regularly and positioning them as an essential part of your business, you’ll earn their trust and respect – and they’ll work hard to return the favour.
CRN recently revealed some quite harrowing results and partner feedback as part of their Vendor Report – you do not want to be on the receiving end of some of that!
Partners are centre stage in customer conversations. They talk strategically and provide valuable insight, which must be recognised and rewarded. It’s time to switch focus, change it up a bit. This isn’t about you. It’s about them and the interesting thing is… they are starting to realise this more and more. In many ways, they’re consultants for your business, an extension of your sales force, a multiplier of your ‘feet on the street’ and the potential ambassadors and advocates of your brand ready to open up their lungs and sing your song! But they are not going do it just because you keep telling them to! They need to be managed, supported, recognised, understood, motivated and rewarded so that they can do the best job possible.
The good news is, The Channel Agency takes partners, vendors and the relationship between the two, very seriously. We’ve helped some of the worlds biggest and best-known technology brands develop a greater understanding of and a closer relationship with their partners. We’d love to do the same for you.
CEO of The Channel Agency: Purechannels
Founder of Nuzoo and Viewpoint | Channel Chief | Agency Leader | CRN A-Lister