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The Four Cs to Consider when Choosing your Channel Partners

The channel is a popular technique that vendors use to extend reach across markets and increase revenue. Part of finding success in the channel is choosing the right channel partners to strengthen your sales capacity and add complementary solutions to enrich your value to business. In the first part of this series, Wayne Monk, senior vice president of alliances and channels at ASG Technologies Group, Inc., explained that companies that can assess what a prospect brings to the table will be able to make the best strategic partnerships. Monk is here to outline the criteria ASG uses when selecting their channel partners.

What are you doing as a leader to overcome the challenge of choosing the best partner?
At ASG, we’ve developed a methodology for evaluating potential channel partners. We call it the “Four Cs” criteria, because it evaluates a prospect’s commitment, competence, coverage and capitalization.

When we weigh a prospect’s commitment, we’re looking at the investments it has made to win in the targeted market segment, as well as the relationships it has with other market players. We want to make sure that this potential partner is not only committed to us, but also to the market we serve. This will ensure that will invest in the necessary resources to build awareness and demand for our solutions.

When we’re thinking about a prospective partner’s competence, we’re making sure that the prospect understands the pertinent technology and shows the technical know-how needed to understand the core requirements and position the value proposition to meet them. As a vendor, this will help us accelerate the technical enablement our products in order to more quickly demonstrate the unique value to our mutual clients.

When it comes to assessing a potential partner’s coverage, we look first and foremost at its sales and marketing capacity. How many sales representatives does it have? Where are they located? Are they in the field or inside representatives? We also look at the prospective partner’s marketing program. Does it have a dedicated marketing team? If so, how big is it? How many prospects are in its database? Finally, we assess the prospective partner’s customer base. How many customers does it have? Are they active or dormant? Does the potential partner have the network to help us reach new buyers?

The last thing we consider is the potential partner’s capitalization. To ensure the potential partner can invest in the relationship and in the market, we ask how they are currently capitalized including their financial position. This helps us determine whether, and how much, the prospect can invest in order for us to achieve — and sustain — growth.

If a prospective partner meets our “Four Cs” criteria, we typically conduct a solution development workshop to determine how we can, together, bring the most innovation and value to the market. We want our channel partners to think and act like product companies. Ninety percent of the time, channel partners are building and delivering accelerators, or services wrapped around the products they are marketing. There’s a huge opportunity to differentiate themselves in the eyes of customers. And if we can get precise in our joint offering, messaging and marketing, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

What advice would you offer to other channel executives concerning this challenge?
By sticking to the “Four Cs” methodology, executives should be in good shape to vet potential partners and identify ones that will deliver superior results for their organizations.

I would also stress that it can take time and resources to secure the right partners. Be patient. Finding partners and training them on your product can be demanding, but it’s an extremely rewarding process when done right.

Define success and set goals supported by clear metrics from the onset of the relationship so partners understand how their performance will be evaluated. And if they’re not able to meet the metrics, you, the vendor, can identify what’s stopping them from meeting their goals. A partnership is a two-way street; it’s equally important to consider what each side brings to the relationship. By aligning commitment, competence, coverage and capitalization, you should be on the right track.

ASG uses these guidelines to build partnerships around the world and across several industries, including global outsources and system integrators, business partners and technology partners. To learn more about each of these opportunities and more, visit our partnership program page here.