By: Mohammad Abulhouf, Senior Sales Director KSA, Bahrain & Qatar at Nutanix
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way we work. Through government restrictions, health measures and social distancing, our world has changed overnight. The more complicated our daily lives become, the more simplicity is needed to help companies make the right decisions and maintain their operations. Whether it is to respond quickly to organisational changes due to this year’s ever-changing landscape, or to maintain business advantage in increasingly competitive markets, companies have never needed to be more agile to meet the challenges ahead. Partners, including resellers, distributors, alliances, OEMs, ISVs and IT solution providers are no exception. To be agile requires having the simplest possible relationship with suppliers.
In the IT infrastructure and cloud market, the watchword has always been to simplify IT products and solutions to enable businesses to evolve and transform faster, thereby becoming more efficient. Today, I believe it is imperative that suppliers apply the same rules to relationships with their partners.
First, partner information must be clear and easily accessible. As suppliers, we cannot expect our partners to have to search through dozens of documents, sometimes not even available in the local language, to find out what rebate they are entitled to on a lead, or to constantly check their level of expertise. As we do with our IT infrastructure offerings, we need to bring more automation and transparency to our channel strategy. Whether that is updating partners’ information, protecting their files, making payments, or calculating margins.
It all starts with the registration of the lead. This must be as simple as possible for partners, while guaranteeing them income and securing their profits. However, when partners have to navigate through various incentive programs to gauge the level of margin that they can make from a project, registration immediately becomes more complicated and time consuming. As such, all of these processes need to be simplified, in particular by unifying the commercial incentives and registration procedures so that partners know exactly what to expect and have transparent predictability about the financial contribution generated by a project. In addition, it is also important that partners are reassured that the business they bring to a supplier will be protected. We also need to ensure that, as the supplier, our sales representatives work alongside the partner, rather than undercutting in a bid to recoup the commission.
As with infrastructure, this simplification of partner relationships is achieved through increased automation, particularly of the portal dedicated to partners, and the tools we make available to them. When a partner connects to the portal, whether they are a reseller, integrator, service provider or distributor, they must find all the information they need in real time: their sales and project generation tools, their margins, their objectives, their rebates, their level of skills (the certifications they have or even lack) or their progress within the program levels. The partner must also receive the rebates and rewards automatically without needing to fill out complicated forms. Today, our partners need to be fast and efficient in supporting their customers. They cannot afford to contact their channel manager every time they need information they cannot find, or to wait for answers to their questions. This is not good use of anybody’s time or resources.
The same is true for skills obtention. Partners must be able to specialise according to their objectives and affinities, but also to promote this specialisation to their clients. This becomes even more important as it is becoming increasingly commonplace for partners to wear multiple hats, offering integration, services, hosting, etc. as part of their portfolio. It is therefore important for them to promote not only their business specialties, but also their technological specialities.
These additional complexities mean that, as suppliers, we must unify and simplify our partner support programs as much as possible. The idea is to avoid scenarios where partners, who have several lines of business, have to navigate through several names and schemes to understand how their relationship with a supplier on a project is going to be organised.
In the current context, agility and flexibility in business is essential in enabling partners to develop. By simplifying our relationship with our partners, we not only enable them to grow, but we are also better able to support them and thereby our customers. By unifying programs, simplifying access to information, and automating certain aspects and tools of partner collaboration, we can all benefit.