Channel partners grow tired of hierarchical systems, favour proven, transparent offerings

From advancements in technology – be it the rise of artificial intelligence or the prevalence of cloud computing – to mass disruption – culturally and economically – as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, today’s channel partners have plenty on their plate.

Looking to better understand these challenges, Coterie, the dedicated channel and partner strategy and execution specialist, has identified and explored the success factors for partner marketing today and over the next three years.

In a new report, Coterie, along with its research partner, The University of Huddersfield, has discovered the critical ways that current vendors (and partners) should uplift their partner marketing to ensure the most successful and profitable outcome now and in the future. Coterie gathered these findings by collaborating with 23 high profile organisations to conduct in-depth interviews with a range of senior-level partner marketing professionals.

“Working with Coterie has been invaluable,” said Carol Sibbald, Business Development, Huddersfield Business School. “Research partnerships like the one between Coterie and Huddersfield Business School are crucial in driving innovation in this and other industries post pandemic.”

A key takeaway from the report was the market’s change of heart when it came to tiering partners, the long-established hierarchical system based on volume or revenue. From stalwarts such as HP and IBM to start-up cloud-born vendors with minimal channel experience, the idea of tiering partners based on revenue into Gold, Silver and Bronze layers has long been standard channel practice. Yet, as our respondents stated, while there have been changes occurring to this structure, it has only lead to greater confusion and increased ambiguity among partners and end-users.

As such, our findings indicate that the death knell has sounded for this over-used, underthought-out system. In its stead, partners want segmentation based on marketing skills mapping, and a continuous mapping process to move and adjust as end-user and partner needs change.

“Today, due to this highly competitive and increasingly virtual global context, personalised relationships nurtured over digital channels are crucial”, explained Professor Shona Berry, the report’s principal investigator from Huddersfield Business School, which is part of the University of Huddersfield. “This has driven a more selective mindset in the construction of ecosystems and new modes of marketing engagement.”

It’s evident that partners are crying out for change, with the idea of ranking by volume of sales saying nothing of their expertise or ability to implement and understand a customer’s technology and business challenges.

Helen Curtis, Founding Director at Coterie, added, “Our report highlights several areas of focus for those of us within this industry, and raises more questions that will require an ecosystem working together to answer. The end of traditional tiers as we know them is just one casualty of the ongoing pandemic, the full repercussions of which – and how it will shape our lives as consumers and marketers over the next several years – we will only discover once the dust has settled.”

The full report including additional findings can be downloaded here.