In a world characterized by increased competition and greater unpredictability, channel partnerships provide a collaborative path to expand the business and deliver innovation for customers. A successful collaboration requires perfect synergy and enduring relationships to attain mutually beneficial goals. Trust is a key component in such relationships and must be demonstrated not only through our words but also through our actions. Dell Technologies is firmly committed to drive revenue growth and create differentiated value by working together with its empowered partner community.
A trust protocol built on four principles should be considered for the long game:
Build a trust mindset right from the start
Trust takes time to build but can be broken in seconds. There are many dimensions that build trust –to many channel partners, the baseline of demonstrating competence and the ability to deliver on a promise is key. The other important dimensions that elevate a vendor to one we share a trusted relationship with are fairness, transparency, and resilience.
The key to building trusted relationships begins with identifying mutually beneficial goals before partner recruitment commences. Mutually beneficial goals include speeding up time to market, facilitating scaled revenue, expanding the reach in key offerings, and adding value overall.
What follows is to build an ideal partner profile based on a shared vision and a common purpose to deliver outstanding value to the ecosystem. This requires an exceptional level of commitment to success, with executive ownership on both sides of the house ready to drive and steer the relationship.
Commit to continuous knowledge transfer sharing, alignment and upskilling
The success of the engagement is acutely dependent on early, current and future partner knowledge and skills. Early partner onboarding demonstrates accountability to the relationship. This includes familiarizing partners with the business, principles of working, and the key stakeholders in the program. Onboarding inducts partners into shared values and provides everyone with a thorough understanding of the offering.
From there on, continuous partner enablement empowers the channel to be effective and equips talent with the tools, training, content, and processes required to execute an effective strategy and deliver value to the customer. Training proactively develops partner capability, so that they may capitalize on their unique strengths, while also promoting trust and loyalty through deeper alignment.
Complex technological solutions demand sophisticated certification programs, where distribution partners can support sales efforts by commercializing Ips, and delivering high-touch service ensuring customer success. The need to harness creative talent, establish brand presence and explore new markets validates the need for channel partners who can leverage specialized advantages, creating a win-win for all stakeholders.
Communicate and overcommunicate with clear actions
Trusted engagement and partner retention demands constant dialogue. A transparent relationship focuses on partner needs, listens to feedback, and allows voicing of concerns. It addresses challenges they are facing, manages channel conflicts, and constantly offers the enablement and engagement to help partners drive business. Partner Channel Managers or Channel Account Managers should actively manage cooperation between teams by establishing communication protocols for maximum transparency and effective collaboration. They align mutual objectives that help build open relationships which are deeply committed to the co-investment, and guarantee the protection of talent, customers, and IP.
Measure output and impact
A measurable, actionable model is necessary to function efficiently, and channel values act as guiding principles. Tangible governance models protect interests of all parties, and help to establish trust through Service Level Agreements, while KPIs serve as a barometer of success. This should include comprehensive pipeline visibility and accessible channel sales metrics. When there are better collaboration tools and performance reporting, it also promotes better engagement and brand advocacy. Ultimately this helps to build relationships for the long term and prevents partner churn.
Additionally, trusted companies can generate more financial value. In the last financial year, more than half of our worldwide business and a significant sales contribution in India was conducted through our channel partners – the fruits of our combined efforts and the trusted relationship we share with them.
In closing, strong partnerships are built upon mutual trust, a highly effective on-boarding process, and a channel-friendly play. Trust is also a two-way street that embraces competitive advantages of partner organizations, through synergy in performance and by establishing robust communication protocols.
Anil Sethi, Vice President & General Manager, Channels – India, Dell Technologies