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5 Best Practices for Flawless Partner Profiling and Recruitment

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6/19/2013. hawkeye Channel eBook

6/19/2013. hawkeye Channel eBook

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  • 1. June 2013 5 best practices for flawless partner profiling and recruitment. Fill your channel with partners equipped with the skills to succeed.
  • 2. Page 1 www.hawkeyechannel.com Contents Why is partner profiling important?........................................................................................................2 Number 1:.................................................................................................................................................2 Develop the “ideal” partner profile – it’s vital!...................................................................................2 The right types of partners are changing. ............................................................................................3 How do you find the right partners?....................................................................................................3 Number 2:.................................................................................................................................................4 Profiling and Ranking – how should you do it?....................................................................................4 Attribute Weight for “Value” Prioritization..........................................................................................5 The Score Sheet....................................................................................................................................5 How to use the score sheet..................................................................................................................7 Assess – then re-assess! .......................................................................................................................8 Number 3:.................................................................................................................................................9 Why are guides necessary? ..................................................................................................................9 Number 4:.................................................................................................................................................9 Number 5:...............................................................................................................................................10 What leads to profiling biases? ..........................................................................................................10 Give every partner a level playing field..............................................................................................11 Conclusion. .............................................................................................................................................11 Meet the A-Team Authors and Contributors ........................................................................................12
  • 3. Page 2 www.hawkeyechannel.com Why is partner profiling important? The emergence of Cloud-based solutions and recurring revenue models has altered partners’ business models and what it takes for them to be successful. Now more than ever you’ll find it imperative to employ a best-in-class methodology to ensure you’re recruiting and onboarding the right partners – the partners equipped to thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace. The changes brought on by channel transformation are affecting the channel landscape and the number of partners who will survive – and prosper – is dwindling. Research companies are predicting vendors, like you, will only be able to “bring along” 20% - 30% of partners and will have to part ways with the rest – leaving an enormous hole to fill through the recruitment of new partners. It’s necessary to re-assess the tools and methodologies you employ to identify partners with the competencies to support your business model. Partners are your face in the marketplace making it immensely important to establish a solid partner profiling methodology that ensures you are investing in the right relationships. Haphazard or subjective profiling processes can result in a partner ecosystem that’s unable or unqualified to effectively drive revenue for your products and services. This eBook shares the top 5 best practices for profiling partners – whether you’re recruiting new partners due to recent attrition or evaluating existing partners to gauge future performance. Follow these insights to achieve profiling success in the age of channel transformation. Number 1: Before you invest more in partner enablement, make sure you have the right partners with the right attributes to achieve your indirect sales goals. This is particularly important as you identify partners who can grow with you and expand your cloud solutions and services business. Develop the “ideal” partner profile – it’s vital! Creating an ideal partner profile is one of the most important things you can do in the recruiting and profiling process. Without a clear understanding of which partner attributes comprise your “ideal” partner, you will have difficulty identifying top producers. Compare current or potential partners to your ideal profile to see where they match up, and where they fall short. This will allow you to determine who to onboard and who to stay away from, so you can build a strong, productive channel for years to come. Imagine this scenario; you want to onboard North American VARs with an expertise in selling Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions to the insurance industry. You find a potential partner who fits the criteria and bring them into your program – but then they don’t produce. Why aren’t they succeeding? If you had compared them to an ideal partner profile you may have been able to pinpoint reasons for failure before onboarding. Maybe they didn’t possess the marketing resources or pipeline management capabilities to reach their customers effectively, or they didn’t have the specific certifications or knowledge to sell your products. Whatever the reason, don’t be fooled by partners with only some of the attributes you seek. Develop a score sheet – it will allow you to compare partners to
  • 4. Page 3 www.hawkeyechannel.com your ideal profile, making it easy to find ones who will contribute to the success of your channel. The right types of partners are changing. As Bob Dylan so famously sang, “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” and with those changes have come challenges for many. Some partners are making a smooth transition to a cloud-based channel while others are unable to modify their business models to accommodate the recurring revenue model. New “born in the cloud” partners possess many of the characteristics to thrive but they may not possess the business acumen to succeed. We’ll discuss them more in a moment, but let’s first talk about the shift vendors are facing when evaluating partner attributes. During this time of accelerated channel transformation, the industry is beginning to realize conventional segmentation models no longer apply. Once key partner attributes such as on-premise technical support are fading in favor of managed services, remote management infrastructure, lead generation, and the effective implementation of a recurring revenue model. The cloud computing world is forcing vendors’ hands, making it critical to develop a new methodology to determine the right partner profile. Born in the cloud partners serve as a model for the attributes that make partners successful today – but they must also possess the business acumen and demand generation capabilities of “old style” partners. These 5 traits are common to partners who will be successful in the “new channel.” 1. Adept at managing a recurring revenue model. 2. Managed services capabilities. 3. Strong demand generation processes. 4. Knowledge to select and support the right Cloud services model for their market place augmented with their own services. 5. Ability to make rapid changes to their business model to adapt to the rapidly changing Cloud environment. How do you find the right partners? Like many vendors, you may struggle to identify partners who really drive channel ROI – it’s likely you lack the tools to implement a sound profiling methodology. Employ this simple process to get started: Step 1: Look at your current partners, focusing on the most successful ones, to identify common attributes – this will help you pinpoint what makes partners successful in your program and drives revenue. Step 2: Now that you have identified core attributes, think about secondary attributes that enable partner success. The objective is to flesh out the score sheet so it contains core and sub-attributes that comprise the ideal capabilities to sell and service your solutions. Step 3: Compile all of the attributes you’ve come up with into a score sheet – this sheet essentially outlines your definition of an ideal partner. Weight core attributes and sub-attributes upon their
  • 5. Page 4 www.hawkeyechannel.com significance to provide an objective, quantitative scoring methodology. Step 4: Use your new partner profiling score sheet to evaluate potential and existing partners. To track all partners’ scores, a partner profiling worksheet will include a tab that records the scores of all partners profiled in addition to a partner’s individual score. Now have the knowledge to only invest in partners with the skills to push your program to the next level! Step 5: Develop new score sheets as needed to identify partners in specific markets, verticals or geographies. Number 2: Implement a quantitative profiling methodology based upon best practices to rank existing and prospective partners in a consistent manner. Profiling and Ranking – how should you do it? Let’s get down to the business of actually ranking your partners and learn how to use your score sheet effectively. There are so many things you could rank your partners for so it’s important to focus on key attributes that really matter, such as: specializations and certifications, vertical market expertise, solutions offered, marketing skills, average deal size, length of sales cycle, etc. You will give every partner a score for each of the attributes you’ve designated as important. Once you’ve assigned a score for every category, combine all of the scores for each partner, giving an overall score. Now you have a score for each partner but how do you know if those scores are good or bad? Create the ideal partner score by adding together the highest possible scores for each category. For example, let’s say your score sheet is comprised of 10 core attributes, ranging in value from 75 – 175 points and an ideal maximum partner score of 1000. The rule of thumb is to stack rank partners with scores closest to 1000 on down to 650. Potential partners with scores less than 650 aren’t worth considering for inclusion in your partner program, while the very top performing partners score 900 or higher. Ranking partners in this fashion will provide you with a highly targeted group of viable candidates even if you begin the process with thousands of partners. See the image below for a typical recruiting breakdown.
  • 6. Page 5 www.hawkeyechannel.com Attribute Weight for “Value” Prioritization. The scoring sheet below shares examples of the types of attributes your company might use to assign value scores based upon the market you target and the partner attributes you deem most important. Of course, you would likely select different attributes related to your company’s target market and objectives. Each category of attributes is weighted to arrive at overall weighted value scores based upon attribute category priorities. Tip: Keep in mind that you may have different score sheets depending on the partner types, geographies or industries you serve. For example, the attributes you look for in the telecom industry will likely differ from the automotive industry. The Score Sheet. The partner profiling score sheet is an objective instrument of data collection allowing you to easily evaluate partner attributes. The sheet features several overall attribute categories comprised of sub category attributes that when combined, yield a total score for each of the overarching category. You select the capabilities you have identified as essential for partners to thrive in your program and assign values in descending order of priority. You may include categories within these main areas:  What is known about current partners and their core attributes that contribute to superior performance  Revenue performance (for current partners)  Vendor “share of wallet” (for current partners)  Market specializations and certifications  Sales and marketing capabilities and resources  Attributes signifying the capability to penetrate new markets and acquire new customers  Vendors and product lines sold and supported Sub categories represent the quantitative measurement for each attribute – things like revenue size, share of market, level of certification, etc. Values are assigned to sub category attributes based upon the relative importance of each attribute and can be configured as “pick one” or “multiple choice.” Below is an example of the partner score sheet:
  • 7. Page 6 www.hawkeyechannel.com
  • 8. Page 7 www.hawkeyechannel.com How to use the score sheet. Upon first glance, it may look slightly complex, but don’t worry the real complexities are built into the back end, making it extremely easy to use. For example, the score sheet features check boxes for each sub attribute, which when checked, populate automatic value scores that are represented in the final score. It also includes a summary tab that allows you to quickly view each reseller’s check-marked sub attributes as well as the corresponding scores. Once the score sheet is completed, it should be reviewed and approved by the channel management team and responses should also be validated or edited if the information provided by the partner doesn’t seem to be accurate. The last step is to click the “save partner score card” button. When the button is pressed the profile form is saved as a tab in the workbook and the data is copied to the ‘Summary’ tab. The Summary tab includes all the data from the profile on one row.
  • 9. Page 8 www.hawkeyechannel.com Once the data is saved the ‘Reset’ button can be pressed to clear the form for the next partner. The user or administrator can change the attribute weightings which are contained in hidden tabs in the worksheet. Assess – then re-assess! As the industry trends, your business model and solution offerings change. So too should your scoring parameters and the types of partners you pursue. It would be easier (and certainly less of a hassle) if you could simply create your partner score sheet once, evaluate partners before onboarding and then be done with the process, but that’s far from our reality. For example, a few short years ago the channel operated almost exclusively on a transaction-based model where partners were counted upon to re-sell products one time with less emphasis on solution selling and more on providing services. Nowadays, the landscape has changed and sales of cloud related services and the recurring revenue model are growing rapidly, necessitating a different kind of partner for success. Thriving in this new environment requires partners who possess a vastly different skillset. Vendors who haven’t re-assessed their onboarding and profiling parameters within the last year or so will likely have a channel inhabited mostly by partners who are unequipped to excel in today’s market. *Tip: you can’t refine your score sheet all the time but it’s necessary for your partner scoring values to align with current industry trends as well as your shifting business focus – consider revisiting your partner profiling attributes and values at least once per year. Partner recruitment is an ongoing process requiring consistent maintenance and analysis. Partner profiling, tiering, and segmentation are critical for sustaining profitable and productive relationships. Current partners must be evaluated and scored to determine if they continue to meet your requirements or if it’s time to part ways. When combined with revenue performance and year-over-year revenue growth, an objective partner profiling methodology will help you determine how to tier partners and align them to the proper program requirements and benefits. It will also help determine which partners should be managed by your channel account team. Partner profiling can aid you in determining partners to enroll in certain
  • 10. Page 9 www.hawkeyechannel.com vertical market initiatives or to sell certain solutions. Number 3: Provide guides to ensure your team involved with the partner profiling implementation is well trained in the execution of the profiling process. Most companies give the responsibility of profiling to PAMs or CAMs for a couple reasons:  They’re a dedicated group that has in-depth knowledge of partners from having managed relationships with them  They are usually the only available resource to partner profiling Why are guides necessary? Your PAMs and CAMs are knowledgeable about the partners assigned to them, but they must be trained to use the proper tools and techniques for profiling. Ensuring they are well trained to apply your methodology will guarantee a better outcome. We promote the best practice of providing your profiling team (and channel management team) with guides to walk them through the process of collecting the data interpreting the results, using these exercises. Profiling Guide: A profiling guide sets the stage for the profiling activities, explaining why you’re evaluating partners, the objectives you’re trying to achieve and how this exercise will help you reach those goals. It provides general directions as well as specific steps for your CAMs/PAMs to follow. Most of the attributes on the score sheet will be self-explanatory but your team will likely encounter a few that are open for interpretation, so it’s important to include a glossary of attributes in the guide. Administrative Guide: The admin guide is created with a different audience in mind, the Channel Management Team. This group already knows the reasons behind profiling and is more interested in how the profiling tool calculates scores, the weighting conventions for attributes and how to interpret the final data. With knowledge of how the mechanisms work, your management team will have the ability and knowhow to change attributes and weightings to fine-tune the tool for future use. *Tip: Even though your PAMs and CAMs are experts in the partners they manage, a profiling guide will enable them to accurately apply your methodology to the partners they evaluate. Number 4: Integrate partner profiling value scoring worksheets with your CRM/PRM platform to create one common partner database containing key data and attributes. As a best practice, all partner data should reside in a central database, typically in a CRM/PRM environment. Chances are your company already uses SFDC, Siebel, SAP or Dynamics CRM platform to maintain partner data – partner ID, revenues, certifications, etc. If this is the case, gaining a “single source of truth” for all channel related functions is relatively easy – just track all relevant partner
  • 11. Page 10 www.hawkeyechannel.com attribute data on your CRM platform as well. If you have a CRM/PRM system in place, you have a platform with the ability to track the attribute and ranking data you collect through the profiling score sheet. With attribute scores logged in your CRM/PRM system, you have the ability to easily view rankings, as well as maintain and update them. When you reassess your existing partners, you will have the most recent attribute scores at your fingertips, allowing you to tier and segment partners appropriately. You’ll be able to wave goodbye to the days of tedious and time consuming profiling – and welcome an era of where CAMs can access and edit partner profiles from your CRM platform. *Tip: Use your existing CRM/PRM system to store the data you collect using your value scoring worksheet – making it easy for users to access and update the information. Number 5: You may want to “hide” value scores from PAMs or CAMs conducting the partner profiling interviews to prevent them from “gaming the system.” Your PAMs and CAMs may have a subjective view of specific partners who can creep into the evaluation and scoring process. The key to successful profiling is having a quantitative methodology and a profiling team that remains objective. Creating a level playing field for all partners allows you to truly compare scores partner-to- partner and be confident your valuations are accurate. If subjectivity leaks into your scoring methodology it will pollute the data and may deliver partners that are not the best suited for you programs. What leads to profiling biases? Everybody has their biases – even your CAMs or PAMs. Whether they’re intentionally trying to boost the scores of certain partners or doing it subconsciously, this is a potentially damaging issue. However, it’s easy to avoid. Before we talk about solutions, let’s first discuss why your profiling team would be playing
  • 12. Page 11 www.hawkeyechannel.com favorites in the first place:  Partner Comfort: having worked with a partner for years, a PAM has likely built a comfort or familiarity with that organization.  Contact Relationships: Their contacts at partner organizations become their pseudo co-workers. Often, they’ve been talking to these same people for several years and therefore don’t want to lose them.  Partner Loyalty: Over time PAMs can feel as though they straddle the line between your company and the partners they manage. Feeling as though they “belong” in those companies makes them loyal to their causes as well as yours. Give every partner a level playing field. You can make sure their favoritism is a non-factor by keeping them in the dark on how the scoring rules work and which certifications or qualifications have a major impact on the overall scores of important attributes. There is an easy way to avoid this problem – simply hide the sub-attribute values by having them check boxes instead of entering numerical scores. Also, you should keep the weighting conventions a secret and only share “the secret sauce” with the channel management team. Tip: Avoid profiling biases by having your PAMs and CAMs check sub-attribute boxes that populate numerical scores on the backend and not revealing the weighting conventions. Conclusion. In this day and age, when partner attrition is high due to channel transformation, it’s important to have the ideal partners in your program. Following a quantitative value-scoring methodology allows you to identify partners who will take your channel programs to the next level and significantly impact revenue. When applied to your channel, the insights and best practices shared in this eBook will ensure you fill your channel ecosystem with partners who possess the skills and competencies necessary to succeed. Feel free to contact us at team@hawkeyechannel.com if you need help with partner profiling, performing a health check on your programs or partners or anything related to your channel. We’re the experts. We can help.
  • 13. Page 12 www.hawkeyechannel.com Meet the A-Team Authors and Contributors William Gilsing William leads client engagements in channel strategy and channel program development efforts. He has over 20-years’ experience working with technology clients on partner strategies and programs that increase indirect sales and deliver maximum ROI on channel spend. His experience includes strategic engagements with Microsoft, Symantec, Seagate, Skype, SAP, Cisco, Lexmark, and many others. Prior to his consulting career, William held middle and senior management positions in marketing, product marketing and merchandising with Egghead, Sharper Image, Duty Free Shoppers and GAP. Harte Onewein Harte is a skilled marketing and communications professional with expertise in the technology industry and channel marketing. His approach is built upon creating compelling written content and clear, succinct marketing messages for a variety of marketing vehicles. Having developed and implemented successful integrated marketing campaigns, he knows a thing or two about industry best practices. Away from the office, he enjoys staying in shape, cooking, traveling and spending time with his wife. Follow Harte on Twitter @Harteo For more information visit us at www.hawkeyechannel.com or email us at team@hawkeyechannel.com.

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