HomeBlog The Three C’s of Supplier/Partner Relationships

The Three C’s of Supplier/Partner Relationships

April 17, 2013|Patrick Coulbourne

For the past 10 years, while managing partner ecosystems, I’ve experienced natural selection at work again and again. I am not implying that the best partners don’t rise to the top, but that the secret to a partner’s success is its ability to incorporate best practices that enable it to adapt to an individual supplier’s ever-changing environment.

The concept of natural selection is a cornerstone of modern biology. Simply put, creatures that survive are not necessarily the BEST, but those that can best ADAPT to their environment.

For the past 10 years, while managing partner ecosystems, I’ve experienced natural selection at work again and again. I am not implying that the best partners don’t rise to the top, but that the secret to a partner’s success is its ability to incorporate best practices that enable it to adapt to an individual supplier’s ever-changing environment.

On average, partners have six or seven supplier relationships, yet only sell for one or two. Why haven’t suppliers obtained better results? After all, they continue to invest countless hours and dollars recruiting the top partners, building enablement programs to provide them with the role-based onboarding and certification, and providing highly targeted demand generation programs. Yet, after all of this game changing, productive partnerships still elude them.

Why? While most channel programs focus on quantitative components like knowledge, skills and process enablement, they lack an important qualitative component – the human element. It’s difficult to create chemistry between a supplier and partner, but it’s even more difficult to replicate this chemistry throughout a supplier’s channel ecosystem, and it’s nearly impossible for a partner to duplicate it with another supplier. Suppliers must architect channel programs with both quantitative and qualitative components that resonate with partners and provide a sense of community.

Over the next few months, SiriusDecisions will introduce a new assessment tool that suppliers and partners can use to evaluate, build and strengthen their relationships. At its foundation are three components: capability, capacity and compatibility.

  • Capability assesses the MATURITY of strategic, organizational and vendor-specific resources within the partner and supplier
  • Capacity assesses the AVAILABILITY of strategic, organizational and vendor-specific resources within the partner and supplier
  • Compatibility assesses SYNERGY between the supplier and partner in the areas of social, business and technology

The assessment collects supplier and partner input to generate a three-part index that provides each organization with a 360-degree view of the relationship, including strengths and weaknesses, areas that can be improved through better enablement and processes that can be re-engineered to drive greater efficiencies. Additionally, the assessment provides the supplier with prescriptive insights from which to build ideal partner profiles and channel best practices.

When suppliers have closer alignment with top partners, they achieve greater sales visibility and deeper market penetration. By “segmenting the herd,” suppliers can tap into new partners to reach new markets or extend channel capacity. Prescriptive partner enablement helps reduce supplier delivery costs and personalize service.

To survive, partners need to maximize their limited strategic and organizational resources with the right suppliers. To remain adaptive, they must communicate what they need from suppliers.

Patrick Coulbourne

Patrick Coulbourne is a Research Director for Channel Management Strategies at SiriusDecisions. Patrick brings 17 years of real-world channel sales and marketing experience building profitable channel partnerships and executing revenue-generating channel programs in the high technology and software industries.
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