6 Ways Your Training Program Can Give Partners Competitive Edge
By John Gentry, VP of Marketing and Alliances, Virtual Instruments
When your channel partners win business, so do you. We all know this. So, how can you help your resellers capture larger pieces of increasingly competitive markets? Start with training — and then add more training, that’s more tailored and more effective. Anyone can sell a product, but a more informed reseller builds repeat business, can upsell on services and solutions, and positions itself as an invaluable resource to customers. Your channel training programs should help make this possible.
Here are six ways you can optimize your training offerings to make sure your partners have what they need to compete and to help you grow business:
- Provide a training program that aligns with your partners’ sales cycles. Resellers need to invest employee time in training, but there are certain moments during the quarter or the year when that investment might be too expensive for your partners. The channel wants to learn about your new products. Make it easier for them to do so by scheduling training sessions that are focused, concise and appropriately scheduled. The best time for a reseller to send its employees out for new technology training is during its quieter times.
- Tailor examples and use cases to your partners’ specific target markets. Once you’ve found a time when your partners can step away from their businesses for training, show them that you’ve made the effort to tailor examples and use cases to their target markets. Showcase real-world deployments that reflect the size, location and industries of the customers your partners serve. As you’re transferring your expertise, do so in a way that clearly shows how each reseller can provide a solution to its customers that delivers clear returns on investment.
- Offer training in solution-orientated pre-sales consulting services. In order to deliver services that go beyond product transactions, resellers need to be able to consult with prospects about their pain points, challenges and opportunities, and create solutions that exceed initial customer expectations. You can help resellers prepare to do this by teaching them how to conduct solution-oriented pre-sales consulting services.
- Equip your channel partner with tools and information to help them sell services without additional support from you. Your ability to scale increases as your channel’s autonomy increases. That’s one reason to educate and train your partners to the best of your ability. The other reason has to do with increasing partners’ value to customers. While that might manifest itself in ways that don’t directly relate to your revenue stream, the indirect value is clear. More adept resellers become leaders in their markets, and their preferred vendors benefit, as do their customers. When a reseller is technically proficient with your offering, it can pursue other opportunities, such as managed services, that boost revenue. A vendor-certified partner can sell managed services and retain 100% of the related revenues, so partners embrace training programs that foster that scenario.
- Allow your channel partner to shadow your team as it tests, installs and uses your product. As you’re creating certification programs that teach your partners how to support customers across a range of technologies, architectures and processes, make sure you include the chance to shadow your team through testing and installation. This will help your partners learn exactly how to manage the equipment so that they can create their own add-on customer support and managed services, such as infrastructure analysis that tests performance, identifies bottlenecks and boosts optimization.
- Provide your channel partner with information on complementary services and products to enable upsell opportunities. Teach resellers how they can enhance your product portfolio to increase their own revenue. Are there monitoring and analysis tools that complement your storage solution, for example? Or do you have additional product lines that could be sold as ad hoc services? Show your resellers how they can boost their own capabilities and they’ll see the value in your training program and your partnership.
Valuable training programs strengthen the connection between vendors and their channel partners. When you build a program that fits your resellers’ sales schedules, shows them how to open up new lines of revenue, and ensures that they remain valuable to their own customers, you solidify partnerships that are worthwhile for everyone involved.
John Gentry is the Vice President of Marketing and Alliances at Virtual Instruments. He has more than 18 years of experience in marketing, sales and sales engineering, and has established his expertise in the open systems and storage ecosystems. Prior to Virtual Instruments, Gentry served as senior director of Infiniband sales and solutions consulting, where he was responsible for all go-to-market activities related to the QLogic Infiniband product portfolio.