In the last couple of years, technology and IT sales channels have changed significantly, and vendors have become more dependent on distributors and partners in ways they never had before. As a result, more sales roles, processes, and functions moved to online channels, making Partner Specialist services a vital part of managing remote sales.
Customer retention is critical. In fact, you’re 30 to 70 percent more likely to sell to an existing customer, but the chance of selling to a new prospect is only 5 to 20 percent. It’s less expensive to retain customers than to find new ones.
If you don’t approach customer retention correctly and manage your partner relationships, you can easily fall short of your goals. By employing partner specialists, a clear plan for your vision, and rigorous channel policies, you can strengthen partner relationships and retain customers more effectively.
What is the Function of a Partner Specialist?
A Partner Specialist can have many names, such as, Channel Marketing Concierge (CMC), Channel Engagement Manager (CEM), Partner Advisor, or a Channel Concierge. These roles may have unique responsibilities, but they generally act as a conduit between a channel partner and vendor. This position supports all strategic partner activities and relationships, including:
Key Responsibilities of a Partner Specialist
A Partner Specialist helps reinforce the OEM’s priorities, initiatives, messaging, incentives, and policies to drive the behaviors that the OEM is looking for. Some of the key responsibilities include:
- Negotiating Partner Agreements – The Partner Specialist is the first point of contact, so the role must negotiate partner agreements ethically and fairly. This role manages all communications, reviews payments, pricing structure, contract renewals, support, sales deliverables, and marketing materials.
- Serve as a Liaison – A Partner Specialist serves as the liaison between partners and OEMs to find the most effective sales and marketing strategies and how to execute them effectively to benefit everyone.
- Create Product Training Materials for Partners – The product development and L&D team works together with the Partner Specialist to create comprehensive training programs. These programs enable channel partners to have in-depth knowledge of each product, its value, and how to sell it to customers.
- Manage Partner Relations – Partner Specialists distribute and manage prospects throughout the channel to avoid partner conflicts and cannibalization.
- Provide Insights on Health and Performance – Partner Specialists regularly provide sales and renewal reporting to both partners and the OEM. This enables the OEM and Partners to measure the health of their renewals business and provides performance feedback to identify potential gaps or training opportunities.
Why You Should Invest in a Partner Specialist
With so many different SaaS solutions and choices for customers, it’s essential to provide them with the best experience possible and increase the customer’s success. A Partner Specialist acts as the crux of your channel strategy, they help you grow and retain your customer base and create cohesion in your partner ecosystem, so everyone is rowing in the same direction.
What are the Benefits of a Partner Specialist?
There are many benefits to a Partner Specialist. First, they improve relationships between partners and vendors. Partner Specialists free up internal resources so companies and partners can use them more effectively and efficiently. They also have regional and local market advantages.
Plus, a Partner Specialist acts as a single point of contact for companies and partners and provides a higher level of attention to partners.
Partner Specialists also:
- Help to manage the channel
- Provide digital technology expertise
- Help you get more out of your tech investments in your channel
- Provide agency back-up
Partner Specialists can help increase both channel revenue and customer revenue.
What to Look for in a Partner Specialist
There are several characteristics to look for in your Partner Specialist. The individual will ideally have experience in channel marketing, strong business acumen, as well as:
- The ability to learn new technologies and analyze sales trends
- Ability to design impactful sales strategies
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Ability to distinguish between valuable partners and those that need more investment
A Thorough Understanding of The Channel Ecosystem
A Partner Specialist must have a thorough understanding of how their channel partners do business, their revenue goals, target audiences, and how it will relate and achieve the OEM’s goal.
A Partner Specialist must be process-oriented to help partners identify the gaps in their processes and performance to help them achieve their goals more effectively and efficiently over time.
Exceptional Relationship Building Skills
A Partner Specialist must be personable and be able to build strong relationships between partners and OEMs. This means they must be able to have deeper conversations and be helpful to facilitate relationship building. They must also be able to persuade people to work with them.
A successful Partner Specialist must have marketing expertise to understand how to navigate the sales process and help develop marketing strategies that resonate and persuade customers leading up to a purchasing or renewal event.
Excellent Interpersonal Skills
A Partner Specialist must have exceptional interpersonal skills to help partners and companies communicate with each other. They must be able to communicate well with people one-on-one and in groups. Some of these skills include listening, speaking effectively, and controlling emotions.
Making a Partner Specialist Work for You
Adding a Partner Specialist helps manage channels and build relationships between partners and companies. They serve as a critical conduit between vendors and partners to negotiate partner agreements and manage relations.
It’s a vital position that supports all strategic relationships and partner activities, including connection, strategy, consistency, and executions. But not all companies can devote time and resources to developing this role internally. An experienced, proven channel outsourcing delivers the results you’re looking for without all the headache, overhead, or resources.
Contact an expert today to learn more about how a Partner Specialist can create cohesion in your channel ecosystem to achieve your desired results.