Partners Happy With Vendor Communication Amid Channel Shifts

The communications indirect channel is changing quickly due to technology shifts including cloud computing and mobility, and a new study from CompTIA underscores the metamorphosis.

According to CompTIA, theres an industry-wide re-examination of channel programs taking place. To that point, 60 percent of respondents to the Second Annual State of IT Channel Programs survey are satisfied with their primary vendor partner programs. Just more than a quarter are very satisfied with the resources, benefits and requirements of those programs. Much of that is because suppliers are helping their partners understand new models, such as cloud, managed services and recurring revenue.

With the industry changing and business transformation becoming a must, the channel is increasingly looking for help with how to sell and how to structure their business in new models,” said Carolyn April, director of technology analysis for CompTIA. Vendors are communicating more than ever. While the sheer volume and sources of communication can be overwhelming for channel partners, many firms want this information if its relevant to their business.”

CompTIA said the volume of vendor communications is magnified when considering that, on average, a channel firm belongs to eight different vendor programs; and 14 percent belong to more than 15 programs. Thats likely due in part to social media, which is gaining ground as a communications link between vendors and their channel partners, CompTIA said. In the past year, more than half of vendors have used social media tools for partner recruitment, and to share sales and incentives information. On average, upwards of four in 10 channel firms cite social media tools as the most common way they receive information from their vendor partners.

The highest marks for specific partner program elements came for Web-based technical training, with a net of 73 percent of channel firms saying they were satisfied with that vendor-provided resource over the last 12 months. Vendor-provided business training in sales, marketing and other aspects of running a services-oriented company also scored good satisfaction levels.

April noted that while new training options and streamlined communications from vendors will be paramount in helping channel partners make the transition to new business models, these shifts must be balanced against current reality.

Many vendors are looking at ways to identify practical partner segmentation and engagement strategies to pull off the balancing act of aligning new go-to-market strategies while maintaining short-term revenue productivity,” she said. Channel partners are in the same boat, eyeing new business models and markets, which continuing to nourish legacy revenue streams for survival.”

Despite the challenges, 43 percent of channel companies reported a net gain in program participation in 2011. Top reasons for adding new vendor programs include variety of products sold; ease of doing business with; quality of leads and demand generation; quality, affordability and availability of technical training; and pre- and post-sales support

Money, strategy and execution are the most common issues that cause channel firm to leave a vendors partner program.

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