Channel management is an important term that IT sponsors should know and understand. The current MSP ecosystem is becoming more and more in demand among businesses across industries. It also means more competition and requirements for better and sometimes more complex IT products. Successful IT vendors not only have the best information technology solutions for today’s businesses. They also have equally efficient MSP channel partners and systems to ensure continuing success.
A Comprehensive Definition of Channel Management
IT sponsors and MSP partners are parties that are engaged in channel activities day in and day out. However, channel management definition is still a complicated or vague topic as it is quite a broad term. Knowing a more explicit definition of this essential MSP term will make a world of difference. Understanding it will open numerous ideas and doors of opportunities for business and partnership success.
The Fundamental Definition in MSP
In the context of managed services providers, channel management refers to a technique or set of activities. IT vendors use this in narrowing down their choices for the most efficient and best MSP channel partners. Furthermore, the system determines the most effective routes in making your IT products and solutions accessible to your end-users. It also involves planning out and putting in numerous efforts to acquire your desired maximum goals and results.
Top management strategies in the competitive MSP ecosystem are more aggressive and complex than you think. Just like in any other industry, allocate your time, resources, and energy to it to make it work. Depending on the complexity of your management program, the processes could vary significantly.
In some management of MSP channels, this may include the allocation of resources. The initial phase could involve defining and managing the policies, people, and sales and marketing processes. The main goal of the program or activities is maximum revenue at the best, lowest possible cost.
How do channel management work?
A clear initial channel management definition is but the start of your quest as a competitive and promising IT sponsor. Now comes the essential part of finding the best MSP channel partner. Moreover, it is your job to identify the effective processes and steps to get your IT products in the market.
So, what should you do first? How do this management system or process work? Are you doing it the right way? Will it yield the best results that you are hoping for? These are just some of the most important questions that you need to answer.
Step 1 – Identifying Your Sources
The channel management process starts with all the basics as there is no short-cut in the MSP ecosystem. Your first step is to identify your sources, specifically the most promising MSP channel partners out there. How do you find them?
One of the best ways to do this is to join MSP communities such as the ForzaDash community. This is where you can find thousands of MSPs and potential channel partners. Such MSP communities are great venues where you can inquire, get in touch, or establish your network.
Step 2 – Prepare a Great Selection Criteria
Effective channel management starts with knowing what you want in an MSP channel partner. Prepare your own set of selection criteria based on different factors that matter to you and your IT business. For instance, a promising channel partner would have extensive knowledge of the niche or target market.
Choose a partner that makes the effort to know and understand your IT product or services as well as end-users. The best channel partner is a competitive one with the same drive and business goals. Your partnership should be complementary and geared towards mutual success. You may also want to check your potential partner’s reputation, managerial competence, and market coverage.
Step 3 – Channel Partner Selection and Recruitment
The first phase of step 3 is building the ideal MSP channel partner profile. This is the initial stage prior to the equally important recruitment process. Using your selection criteria, you now know what to look for in an MSP partner. This is your guideline to an effective and seamless recruitment process eventually.
One of the highlights of a successful partner recruitment program is an excellent value proposition. Show your potential MSP partner why they should have a partnership with you. They must see the compelling value of this partnership and how it can be a lucrative business move for them.
Step 4 – Onboarding your Channel Partner
How do you make sure that your potential partner says yes to your proposal during the recruitment phase? Can you seal the deal and ensure that they are on board? MSP partners have different needs, requirements, and demands from an IT sponsor for their partnership to work and be successful.
As a responsible IT sponsor, offering a competitive partnership program should be part of your channel management plan. It is not enough that you give your MSP partner some initial incentives that will not last in value. Your partner program should have sustainable values to keep your channel partner working to achieve your business goals. There are various ways to demonstrate a strong partner program such as using market quality leads (MQL). This shows the potentials of your IT product to make it big in the market.
Step 5 – Channel Partner Training
Channel partner training is essential to your partnership and overall business results. It offers numerous benefits such as transparency between the IT sponsor and the MSP channel partner. With mutually beneficial results, the success of the training is always a team effort.
Providing effective and successful partner training requires several steps such as evaluating the needs of your channel partner. A good MSP partnership is always aligning the goals of both parties involved. Choose and use the appropriate platform that would ensure effective and successful training.
Make your communication easy and reliable so that your MSP partner can get in touch with you anywhere, any time. It always helps to motivate your channel partner as part of your channel management method. Your partner should feel like they are a part of your program, growing, and achieving goals with you.
Step 6 – Check and Monitor the Competition
In the competitive and complex MSP ecosystem, your sight of mindshare can either make or break your business. IT sponsors should remember that there will be competitors out there especially if you have a good MSP channel partner. Mindshare means keeping your partner’s attention to the partnership at all times.
Losing mindshare can create an opening or opportunity for the competition to steal your partnership. It may even cause a dent in your partnership that would eventually cause a problem in the long run. Prioritize your channel partner and make them feel like that at all times. Do not create any circumstance that would make them doubt you or considering working with other IT sponsors.
Step 7 – Conducting Performance Management
One of the most important elements of your channel management program is measuring its performance and results. This will show you if your activities and techniques are working or not. IT vendors should have a comprehensive and accurate performance evaluation and management system.
You can choose numerous tools and platforms to conduct performance management such as Business Intelligence Reports. There are tools that help you generate the needed default reports for your assessment and monitoring. Moreover, you may build custom reports to evaluate and monitor performance across channel partners.
The best system should accurately track the performance of your channel partner specifically the strengths and weaknesses. The data that you get from your partner’s feedback can also help you make decisions that are data-driven. All these details are important to manage your incentive programs as well as deploy development funds effectively.
Grow with Your Channel Partner
Why do you need channel management? The remarkable results of an effective and successful management program will show how your business prospers. MSP partners stay loyal to IT vendors because of the mutually beneficial results they can from the partnership. Thus, your management efforts are all geared towards growing with your channel partner.
IT sponsors should understand that they can only be successful when their channel partners also grow with them. MSP partnerships can never be a one-way street. Growth and profitability should be true between the parties involved or success can never be realized.
Channel Management – Final Thoughts
Professional and effective management of your MSP channel is essential to ensure a good start in the industry. Most importantly, your management activities and techniques will make sure that you stay on top of your game. The demand for managed services providers is increasing now more than ever. Thus, it is a promising and lucrative niche where your IT business can grow.
IT sponsors can have numerous tools and methods to use for successful channel management. Start by being a member of one of the biggest and reputable MSP communities today. Call now and get to know more about ForzaDash for IT vendors and MSP channel partners!