Deal registration programs can help vendors influence partner behavior, enhance collaboration, reduce channel conflict and measure partner performance. At the same time, these programs provide vendors with real-time visibility into channel pipeline.
The overall value of deal registration programs is clear: 80% of channel firms say that deal registration program is critical or an important factor in their decision to partner with a vendor, according to research from CompTIA.
However, vendors report that approximately 70% of qualifying transactions go unregistered.
In the below Q&A, Michael Reilly, CEO of Vartopia, discusses the current state of deal registration, and best practices vendors need to consider.
Channel Marketer Report (CMR): What are the top challenges vendors face with their deal registration programs?
Reilly: According to CompTIA’s 2013 Third Annual State Of The Channel Study: Channel Conflict And Deal Registration Trends, these programs prove challenging and can cause problems, primarily in three areas:
CMR: Given these challenges, what should vendors consider while revising their deal registration programs?
Reilly: Given the poor track record, it is time to consider what it might look like if a vendor designed a deal registration program and system with their reseller partners at the white board instead of their marketing, channel ops, IT or finance teams.
CMR: What would need to be included in the process?
Reilly: Clear business rules and well-documented, easy-to-use systems are table stakes for resellers. Often, partner managers and executives are not aware of all the incentives available for registering nor are their sales teams. Making sure that this is communicated effectively both on partner portals and within registration systems is important. The training of Partner Account Managers (PAMs), iPAMs and distributor teams to ensure they are current on all the incentives is equally important and often lightly addressed.
But clarity in the program design is the first step in resolving communications complaints. Effective reporting — including self-service tools — enables resellers to see the status of every opportunity that is registered from approval through to payout. These self-service tools should be augmented with clear outbound communications when a status is changed.
CMR: Once that phase is completed, how can vendors ensure partners use these systems and participate in programs?
Reilly: To make deal registration systems easy to use, vendors need to consider the reseller partner environment and how it fits into their business processes, including how their sales teams handle their day-to-day business.
Does your system help the partner manage deal registration or merely record it? Does it consider both centralized and decentralized use cases to map to how your partners manage their business? Does it allow partners to monitor all deal registration activity rolled-up in their territory hierarchy? Doing so enables management and the extended sales teams to be on the same page and track registrations from submission through approval.
Better yet, can they tap into your deal registration from their CRM system? Doing so enables them to better manage your deals in the context of their business. This makes it easier to better manage their customer relationships; not just deal registration.
CMR: What’s the pay-off for vendors and their partners?
Reilly: The pay-off for the vendor is that it can help make your opportunities core to a partner’s business and not an afterthought. Partners that integrate deal registration into their CRM report much higher registration rates than their peers.
CMR: Do you have any other tips to help vendors improve partner loyalty?
Reilly: Predictability is key. Say what you do and do what you say; this is the mantra. Creating and sharing your processes with partners so they know exactly what to expect is critical to overcoming their reticence to vendor provided tools. Consistent, even-handed and prompt turnaround on registration opportunities is critical. Making sure that the vendor’s workflows for approvals are clear and as automated as possible — and integrated with the vendor’s CRM system is considered essential both for quick approvals and for tracking partner opportunities through to close.
Reporting on closed activity demonstrates the value of deal registration to the vendor’s internal teams and gives the PAMs data to help resellers improve their performance. Published service-level agreements and performance reporting on approvals are another best practice that too few vendors have adopted.
Successfully executed, a vendor’s deal registration designed with the partners’ call for clarity, ease of use and predictability just might solve the vendor’s utilization challenge as well.
CMR: Are there any final things vendors need to consider?
Reilly: If you’re a new vendor to a reseller, consider this: No matter how simple you make the process, it’s still another step. And even if you’re creating the coolest new app on the planet, it’s another place to go. Try not to be a distraction.
Finally, consider the “multiple” effect. With more and more resellers selling multi-vendor solutions, there’s tremendous effort required to ensure there is visibility to the reseller to track each vendor’s approval through close process. Consider providing deal registration tools that enable resellers to use tools that they already use and that integrate with their CRM is more important to them than your CRM system.