What Makes a Good Channel Partner Program?

Jim Machi
VP of Marketing, Sangoma

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a long time. When Sangoma merged with Digium a couple of years ago, there was a lot of integration we had to do. And one of them was with the channel partner program. It took some time. But during that process, I had to do a lot of thinking about what we wanted in our partner program, and the company did a lot of thinking about this as well.

Commitment to Partners is Most Important

First of all, before I get into that, I want to say the most important thing about a channel partner program is the company’s commitment to its partners.  I’ve been in the communications industry approaching 25 years now, and I’ve seen a lot of things (some great, some good, some baaaaaad). I’ve seen some great partner programs on paper, but I’ve also seen some of them just be worth the paper they were printed on. (Yes, we used to actually print brochures back in the day!)

Commitment to the channel is the most important thing, even if a vendor doesn’t have a stellar partner program on paper. If they’re committed, the channel will be there. I distinctly remember back in Dialogic when I was talking to one of our primary competitors at the time and they asked me, “How do you stop yourselves from taking large deals direct?”  Well, that said it all didn’t it? That was a knock on them before this conversation even took place. Our distributors and resellers were loyal to us because we were loyal to them. I remember also thinking to myself “I’m not giving these guys a direct answer,” but really the answer was “we don’t even entertain that.” Commitment.

Anyway, back to the question. 

A channel partner program needs to have some basic elements such as the following:
  • Requirements to Join (both vendor and partner need to make sure there aren’t tons of channel partners who don’t really know the product out there)
  • Levels (so the more committed channel partners get additional benefits)
  • Meaningful benefits (such as product discounts, promotions, MDF availability, ability to get to key company personnel for help if required, special webinars for the partners to learn what is coming, for help, etc.)
  • A “portal” to log into, so that key material, such as company logos, company presentations, pricing, quote tools, etc., are available for the partner for self-help use

Some partner programs go above and beyond the basic program.

  • Is there a playbook?  This will help you understand how to best position the products, and really, just as importantly, if the company has resources committed to the partner program.
  • Deal registration is also an example of going above and beyond. There are likely instances where the channel will be going after the same deal. As such, a reseller being able to register the deal insures there is no channel conflict for the same deal.
  • Content syndication. This includes ability to co-brand key collateral, re-use key email templates that the vendor has created, reposting key blogs, etc.
  • Help with specific vertical focus.
  • Does the vendor enable their product experts to be available to help with unique, customer tailored demos and quoting assistance?
  • Support renewal notification to the reseller, so the reseller can go get a maintenance support contract.

At Sangoma, we believe our partner program works for all different types of our channel partners, up to the most committed to us.  We enable all of what I described above. And we are committed to the channel as well. If you want to learn more about Sangoma’s excellent partner program, go here.

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