My last editorial tackled the potentially thorny subject of vendor responsibility for the financial risk faced by their partners during the economic downturn.
This time, the spotlight has fallen on a different aspect of partnership – training and certification.
The topic was raised in a recent Reseller News roundtable event, where Symantec hosted five partners in a discussion on selling security and storage to small and medium businesses in a tough economic climate.
One context of the discussion was the fact vendors and the channel are obliged to work co-operatively to educate, and hear from, the market into which they’re selling.
Such partnership also comes to the fore in considerations over the value of certification and training offered by vendors who offer security and storage products. However, this applies equally to partner programmes from vendors in all spheres of technology.
Designertech business development manager Shane Kerr raised the important point that training and certification should be valuable by virtue of its content, not just because the partner has completed requirements to gain a piece of paper letting customers know they are certified.
Equally pertinently, other participants said partners may be inclined to simply go through the motions, or select those certifications that are easiest to achieve, due to the time and monetary cost associated with completion.
These comments should raise concern among vendors, and prompt them to evaluate the contents of, and processes associated with, their training and certification schemes. And more importantly, make sure the programmes are also regularly assessed by partners, too.
How easy is it, for example, to use the resources provided, and how relevant are they in relation to the skills that sales and technical staff require, and in relation to market trends? How much time will a reseller take to complete courses, how are they offered, when and where?
Deal registration seems an increasingly popular strategy by vendors that aim to show partners loyalty and pave the way for greater competitiveness and profitability among resellers.
However, roundtable participants had experienced difficulties with this aspect of partner programmes, saying there is potential for opportunities to be allocated to unsuitable partners and those who may not extract the greatest value from the deal.
Some were still experiencing “drive by” snatching of such opportunities, either by vendors or by other partners. This should also be cause for alarm and raises questions over the effectiveness of deal registration, at least in isolation.
The strategy should be accompanied by clear and regular communication between vendors and partners throughout the opportunity/deal process, and complete transparency. There should also be acknowledgement from partners and vendors that some channel organisations are not the most suitable to see a deal through, even if they have initiated an opportunity.