Chris Bittner, senior director of worldwide sales and channel strategy at Autodesk, recently spoke with SBI about how the company builds and supports an optimized channel strategy in the enterprise space. He outlined three critical steps.
Step 1: Determine Which Channels Your Customers Want to Buy From
How does Bittner come to understand the channel preferences of his end customers? “The basic answer is to talk to customers,” he says. Besides engaging in multiple conversations with customers year round, Autodesk conducts an annual purchase behavior study. The company looks at both customers and prospects to understand their preferences. This allows thousands of data points to influence Autodesk’s channel strategy, instead of informal, anecdotal data.
Step 2: Ensure You Have Proper Coverage Across the Channel Partner Network
To help ensure Autodesk has the proper coverage, Bittner tracks capacity, capability, and location. For capacity, he looks at the current number of channel partners. For capability, he looks at metrics such as certifications as an indicator of whether channel partners have the right kind of expertise within a given market. For location, he looks at where his channel partners are based. This assessment gives Bittner the sense of a general coverage map, and the ability to detect potential gaps.
Step 3: Identify and Recruit the Right Channel Partners
“We identify the need, we assess what we need to fill that coverage gap, and then we are very targeted about where we recruit,” Bittner explains. It’s also a function of qualification and alignment with Autodesk’s needs. His considerations include the following questions:
- Does the potential channel partner have an existing relationship with desirable customers?
- Does the potential channel partner promote complimentary products or services so Autodesk’s offering will be a natural add-on?
- Is the potential partner committed and ready to invest in the relationship?
Driving revenue growth through channel partners isn’t always easy. You need a comprehensive channel optimization strategy to accomplish that goal. And it begins with determining what channels your buyers want to buy from, ensuring you have proper coverage, and recruiting new partners when needed.