Why Partner Enablement is Broken

This past week eChannelLine announced the arrival of an annual study titled “State of Partnering.” The study is conducted by PartnerPath, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on partner strategy and channel enablement.

The eChannelLine article highlighted several key observations from the annual study. What caught my attention were the responses from the product vendors (or OEMs). Product vendors had the following rankings for what they want from their service delivery partners:

  • First and foremost: “Doing effective pre-sales discovery”
  • Next most important: “Selling value to LOB decision makers”
  • Other important capabilities: “Selling and marketing an annuity-based service” and “Developing a vertical solution”
  • Dead Last:  “Enhancing post-sales professional services delivery”

Beth Vanni, a Vice President at PartnerPath, provided the following observation to eChannelLine: “Only 30% of vendors plan to offer professional services training with partners.”

So it appears that vendors (or OEMs) are looking for service partners that can pull through products. How the partners actually implement and support the products are of little concern to the OEM. Sure, the OEM will provide the partner with technical training on the product. But training on delivering services—well, the partner can figure that part out on their own.

When OEMs made their money on large upfront product transactions, this focus on product pull through made sense. However, this traditional approach to poor partner enablement is incredibly dated and running out of economic gas.  Moving forward, OEMs will obtain revenue from customers actually consuming product features and capabilities. To make sure customers can consume, partners will need to be adept at enabling customers. To enable customers, OEMs will need to invest in enabling partners to deliver effective services.

The success models for the OEM/Service Partner relationship is changing—right before our eyes. For more thoughts on this topic of the OEM/Service Partner handshake, refer to my previous blog entries:

Understanding Partner Needs

Who REALLY Owns Partner Success?

Managing the Mix: Changing the Partner Management Dialogue

The Common and the Missing in Partner Enablement Practices


One Response to “Why Partner Enablement is Broken”

  1. Greg B. Says:

    More specifically, technology vendors or OEMS typically have very poor data on their installed base, whether it be for the products they have installed, utilization of those products, or for their most recent service & maintenance contracts. Traditional technology vendors can learn from XaaS (software, platform, hardware, etc.) vendors who have access to real-time utilization data, even if end users are served by the channel. The most successful vendors are able to leverage that utilization data to proactively engage with end-users (either directly or through the channel) to increase the chances of customer success.

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