One of the key reasons to employ a channel partner portal is to have a central location where all of your partners may register deals. Deal registration is a key component to your overall program for two reasons: to manage your pipeline with your partners and to manage channel conflict. The challenge is creating a deal registration program that is:
- Fair to all partners
- Incents them to register their deals
- Encourages them to update the deals when necessary
Creating a Program That is Fair to All Partners
Often times a deal registration may come in from more than one partner. If this is the case it is often a good sign to the vendor that a deal is in process. The decision now is to determine which partner receives approval for their deal registration. The approval generally comes with preferred pricing or discounts, which enable that partner to provide a better propsoal to the prospect. As a vendor, it is imperative to understand which partner has a better shot at closing the deal. This takes into account the partner's track records for closing deals, their influence in the account, and any additional details provided to the vendor (i.e. the partner is including this as a part of a services engagement that has already been signed off on, etc). Once a deal registration is approved, it is best practice to reject other partners' deal registrations for the same opportunity so that only one partner receives the preferred pricing / discounts as well as key support from the vendor's team. The decision process should be articulated in the rules of engagement. By doing so, you will help to eliminate future issues and continue to have the support of all partners.
Finally, if a deal is closed by a partner not holding the approved deal registration, it must be clear to all partners involved how the deal will be handled. As a vendor you cannot dictate how customers can purchase solutions. Therefore, it is essential that all partners understand how the vendor will resolve conflict through the rules of engagement. In some situations, rewarding the original partner who held the approved deal registration in some way is a great way to show loyalty to your partners. Regardless of how you handle the conflict, the way you resolve it should be fair to all partners involved so that proper behaviors continue and partner loyalty is shown.
Incentive to Register Deals
There are many ways to incent partners to register deals but none is more effective than protection by the vendor in the deal. When the partner receives the approved registration and is given some level of preference whether it is through pricing or sales support, they receive that level of protection so that other partners can rarely steal the deal away. In addition, the vendor now understands that the partner is engaged in working with the vendor which often leads to additional marketing activities (either through MDF or some other means) as well as lead distribution. Both of which eventually increase the ability for the partner to register more deals; and the sales cycle continues.
Update Deals Along the Sales Cycle
Partners are actively pursuing leads and deals every day and it is difficult for them to update the partner portal for each and every vendor they are working with. Therefore, the vendor must reach out to partners personally or through automated ways to request those updates when necessary to make sure the deals are progressing at the right pace. By automating the deal update reminders, the vendor can spend the quality time they do receive with the partner on very specific opportunities or initiatives. In addition, by keeping the update process easy to complete (i.e. on a deal registration dashboard), the partners can get in and get out quickly. By doing so, the vendor is not bogging the partners down with a lengthy task yet at the same time they are getting the information they need to report to management.
Another best practice to observe when integrating the deal registration system from the partner portal with the vendor CRM is where the deal registration information and updates will appear and how. Initially, a vendor will want the partner to write directly to the CRM fields for deal stage and amount (among other fields). These two fields in particular are key parts of pipeline management. Partners understand where they believe the deal to be in their sales cycle as well as the final price tag, which may or may not be the same sales process or amount used by the vendor. By keeping the deal stage and amount that the partner is inserting in a separate section of the CRM system the vendor rep can manage their pipeline in accordance with their own internal sales processes and rules while still using the input from the partner to direct their decision on what to update and when.
Overall, by ensuring you have a fair and understandable process by which to register deals, the partners will register the deals in a timely manner allowing both the vendor and the partner to successfully close joint customers and win in the end.