Use These Three Es to Develop and Assess Your Channel Relationships

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Building a solid foundation with your channel partners will help your business go down countless avenues in the future. For a vendor, finding the right channels to sell cloud services can play a key role in expanding business and reaching new, untapped markets. Local markets and others formerly out-of-reach for a cloud provider can open up with the right partnership. But the prospect of forging partner relationships can be intimidating. PartnerPath has created a helpful three-step process that defines specific stages in the creation and evolution of a healthy partnership. Understanding the three stages of partner development will let you – the vendor – wrap your mind around the complex yet crucial task of forming effective, fruitful partner relationships to sell your cloud services.

Engagement

This early phase in partner development involves you getting the ball rolling. Engagement means you getting all those involved up to speed on the partnership, on the value you hope to get out of it, the markets you intend to target and the goals you hope to achieve. During this phase, develop a strategy and an ongoing communication plan for both implementing and promoting the relationship. It’s also important in the engagement phase to set benchmarks for performance and timeframes for deliverables, and implement tools that allow you to keep metrics and measure performance.

Empowerment

Empowerment is the phase in which you focus on training. Make sure your team understands fully how your cloud technology is being implemented and used by your partner. Implement appropriate training on the technical, support and sales sides and make sure your staff understands the role they fill to make the partnership a success. This phase involves defining responsibilities as well as making sure that dedicated staff members are set up to collaborate effectively with point people on the partner side of the relationship. In addition to training and establishing roles, the empowerment phase is the time to offer performance incentives.

Evaluation

When it’s all said and done, the evaluation phase lets you step back and take stock of what’s working in the partnership and what needs altering. The goals, benchmarks and timeframes established in the engagement phase now get a look from the other side: Use them to quantify the success of the relationship and justify changes to your processes as necessary.

Think of this planning model as ongoing; once the partner relationship is established, you’re always running through the cycle. Establish expectations, make sure staff skills are up to par and evaluate what works. Make subtle tweaks to your goals and keep improving so you can keep thriving in new markets.

Learn more about forming successful channel partnerships and the three stages of cloud channel development from our Quick Start Guide to Cloud Channel Development (For Vendors).

Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago.