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Partner Improvement Series, Part II

Are You Taking an ACTIVE Approach to Partnership?

By Theresa Caragol, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO


To better understand the underlying structure and the factors that are most important to partnership success, we've teamed up with the University of Glasgow to conduct a study of Partner Lifetime Value®—and what we learned is game-changing.

In the study, we asked 150 technology partners in the U.S. about their attitudes and policies toward their channel partners (see chart below for distribution across industry). Central to the philosophy of this study was the notion of going beyond partnership as a locked-in commitment and instead examining it as value-based commitment. In locked-commitment, partners stay in a relationship because it would be costly to leave, but in value-based commitments, the partnership is viewed as actively enriching and productive.


The questions we asked were based on industry best practices as well as findings from psychological literature. We asked participants to rank statements such as "We have a conscious partner profile," "We include partners in focus groups and often use their input," "Trust and integrity are important in out partnerships," etc.) on a scale of "1" to "5," where "1" means they "completely disagree" and 5 means they "completely agree."

The data was analyzed and six broad domains of Partner Lifetime Value® emerged. Together, these six factors, or domains, provide an "ACTIVE" roadmap for building a successful partner strategy:

  • Allegiance and collaboration – Developing mutual projects and becoming involved in each other's projects.
  • Commitment and loyalty – Trusting partners, valuing them and expecting long-term partnership.
  • Training and education – The provision of training for partners throughout the partnership
  • Investment and Planning – Conscious policies and careful planning regarding partnerships.
  • Velocity and resource expansion – Providing assistance and resources for partners.
  • Engagement – Feelings of obligation and gratitude towards partners
Of these domains, "engagement" has the largest impact on Partner Lifetime Value®, with "velocity and resource expansion" following closely behind. Further, according to the study, "loyalty" has the least influence but is still a key factor in building long-term partner value.

However, an open-ended question asked participants to name what they believed was the most important quality in a channel partner, "loyalty" was the most frequent response given by participants. This suggests that while important, "loyalty" is over-valued and factors such as "velocity and resource expansion" is undervalued.

To extend these survey findings to a broader audience, we've developed a Partner Lifetime Value® tool. This tool will be used to score each partner in each of the six domains and, thus, determine which areas need work and what improvements can be made. For example, a business that scores low in "partner strategy and allegiance" may be advised to include channel partners in research, whereas a business scores low in "investment and planning" may be advised to develop an active partner strategy.

In the next post, we'll look at the six elements that make up Partner Lifetime Value® in greater detail, with a focus on Investment and Planning.





Theresa Caragol is founder and CEO of TCC, LLC, and Achieve Unite, a strategic advisory firm that provides business acceleration services to global enterprise. She has more than 20 years' experience in building and managing multi-million-dollar indirect channel teams and strategic alliance business and programs from inception to sales success. Prior to founding TCC, Theresa held senior executive roles at Extreme Networks, Ciena and Nortel.

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