A concept coined by George A. Kelly, Ph.D. applies here. His observation, known as, the law of the excluded middle implies that once you name something the only two alternatives available are it is or it is not what you have named it. Too often, we name a channel partner unproductive, focus on proving the point then removing them from the partner program. The more valuable exercise is to determine how you might address the root cause so they can be productive.
If you have chosen partners well then they are worth investing time and effort to raise their productivity. Many firms struggle with exactly how to address the root cause. You can use a partner capability assessment to determine where to focus your efforts. The assessment looks at how well a partner meets a buyer’s needs throughout the buying process. An example is provided in the excerpt of an assessment below:
You rank the partner’s competency in each activity from no ability at all to the highest level of performing the activity on behalf of the buyer. Once you have performed the assessment, you can review with your partner and agree on the planned actions to raise their competency along with measures to determine progress and success.
Recently, we spoke to an IT hardware vendor that experienced a 15-20% churn in new partners every year. They had factored it into their model but the costs were hard to ignore. The costs included:
- (2) more Channel Managers than necessary
- (1) additional on-boarding resource than necessary
- Lower number of deals among poor performing partners
They were able to reduce churn to 5% by implementing a competency assessment and redefining the on-boarding program to include focused modules on key competencies.
Cisco is the gold standard in this regard. They recently launched initiatives to teach their partners how to excel in marketing and lead generation. This was welcomed by the partner community and paid dividends to Cisco. If you are facing high churn rates in your signed partners, consider getting to the core of the problem and investing in their capabilities for the long run.