Are channel partners interested just in incentives, profits, and compensation for their efforts with customers? The direct compensation VARs receive in return for their investment in a provider relationship is no doubt important, as it contributes to the viability of a partner today and in the future, but will partners recommend a product purely based on the incentives associated with it?
Across several partner-focused studies conducted by Walker that look at aspects driving preference of one provider over another, the Product Quality has much more influence than margins, rebates, and other incentives. This suggests that providing Products that VARs can count on, contribute to fewer implementation problems, require less ongoing support, and are interoperable across platforms are most effective in guiding partner recommendations.
VARs stake their reputation on the trust being placed in them by their customers, and regardless of the compensation associated with a particular provider or product line, Quality wins out most of the time, over other aspects like being Easy to Work With, Sales Enablement, or even Profitability.
Interestingly, while many customer feedback efforts allot significant focus on gathering product-specific feedback, most partner feedback initiatives only scratch the surface in identifying perceptions of the partners on Product Quality. Much more attention is spent on feedback related to Onboarding, Enablement, Training, and new or evolving Marketing Programs and Incentives.
Given the strong influence that partners play in their customers’ decision making process, more time should be spent understanding the concerns VARs have with individual products, and where their biggest successes are found. This information can be combined with customer feedback to identify the biggest areas of potential growth that will appeal to both partners and customers.
In addition, if partner perceptions are preventing new products from reaching large groups of customers, identifying and removing those barriers, with the help of product groups and engineers, will allow for additional customer feedback opportunities in the future.
Are you getting the right feedback about the quality of your products? Or, are you spending most of your time reacting and responding to feedback based on the incentives you provide to VARs?