Cloud MSPs and VARs: What’s Your Optimal Revenue Plan?

Recently, a provider of secure, Cloud-based content management solutions announced a new threshold in required annual revenue from its network of MSPs and VARs. If threshold is not met, partners can still gain revenue via one-time referral commission.  The shift in policy is common to companies that have the good fortune to be growing, and need channel partners to ratchet up results… even though said growth is due in large part to MSP and VAR performance and expansion.

This provider’s reseller program, according to some channel partners, now requires partners to sign up for a yearly revenue target based on company size and customer demographics.  What’s unclear is how, or if the provider solicited these metric data points from the MSPs and VARs, or pushed them outward, based upon market research and sales trends. Also, how competitive and sector factors weighed results.

A solutions provider that’s channel-friendly and acknowledges that its MSP and VAR partners will haul in the majority of revenues, and administers a profitable, simple compensation program will retain channel partners who deliver increased revenue. The sticking point in channel management relationships comes when the provider is poised for growth, and needs to ensure its partners can ride along, at new levels.

The compensation should always reflect effort expended by both sides — who will carry added burden of back-end billing and administration vs. bag the sale and sprint to the next kill.

It’s up to the MSP or VAR to know its productivity sweet spot, then slot into the appropriate compensation method.  Is the staff most productive only in quick-turn, hunter-gatherer mode?  Or does it thrive when delivering multi-faceted, turnkey services. Pick the compensation program that’s right, and everyone will thrive.

There’s a great example of this scenario at Joe Panettieri’s TalkinCloud blog; check it out!

Advertisements

Sales Channel Communication Tools

Among the many online and automated forms of communicating with channel partners recommended by Hanson Marketing — all of which are intended to ENHANCE and not REPLACE person-to-person contact, right class? — two are particular favorites. We prefer them for their quick and responsive handling and speed (just like your favorite sports car)

NING: Huh? NING is your very own social networking site… like a custom Facebook. This nifty social marketing tool became part of my channel marketing toolkit when our hard-working PR agency pitched it… and at a price tag of FREE, I have expanded its function by inviting channel resellers to join. What is it? Take a look here.

Constant Contact: Back when dinosaurs roamed Earth, my weekly outbound correspondence was via automated fax transmissions. All the news fit to print on one, black and white, curly piece of paper. Now, Constant Contact and similar solutions unleash a can of powerful, quasi-personal communications tools. A channel leader can reach all or parts of his active partner roster, with rich visuals, polls, and calls to action. A good reseller becomes a great one, when armed with industry- and product-specific info, and a brief, valuable newsletter does the job.

Tip: Think of what you’d say to the channel partner if you had 5 minutes, face-to-face… then put it in writing and send it!

Online Loyalty Shopping: 21st Century Green Stamps

Hanson Marketing forms specialized channels for makers of various goods and services, that link them to customers worldwide. Each time we dig into a new project, we find that no matter how we slice and dice the desired customer demographics, there exist e-commerce websites that cater to them. Whether the targeted customer is an avid RVer who hits the road with Good Sam Club card intact, a government purchasing officer buying IT equipment on contract, or a frequent flier, these online shoppers are introduced to e-commerce sites by the organization they have in common, sites that enable them to shop as usual while rewarding them with points or discounts or rebates.

My mom used to collect S & H Green Stamps with every transaction at the gas station and grocery store. Licking the stamps and filling up the pages was a fun chore for me, despite green tongue and sticky hands. Once I filled in the books, she would visit the local Green Stamp storefront to swap them for merchandise. What a satisfied feeling you get from earning points and free merchandise for being a loyal customer.

Collecting and redeeming trading stamps has evolved to online shopping malls, frequented by like-minded loyal members. Such online malls are powered by affiliate marketers, which collect and publish various loyalty sites; and by such service providers as Google Affiliate Network. These enabling services extend the reach of even the smallest manufacturer by connecting them with millions of loyalty shoppers, routing buyer to seller and collecting transaction fees.

So, if you’re a retailer, a dealer, or even a manufacturer of goods that sell particularly well among like-minded consumers – professional or leisure – then take notice of loyalty shopping sites, and talk to those enabling service providers who can accelerate that link. Their negotiated discounts are a bargain, with fees based solely on sales; and their marketing programs are as focused and timely as you’d expect from any online campaign. Word of mouth recommendations fly further and faster, too.

And what of Green Stamps? Sperry & Hutchinson, the people who invented rewards currency, brought them into this century as S&H greenpoints, a site launched in 2000. And, while they no longer operate neighborhood redemption stores, loyal S & H members still get the same thrill as they got when turning in a book full of stamps, by redeeming points online.

What’s a Book, Anyway?

Phones, TVs, now books …the form and capacities of all are forever changed, in our digital age. Usage habits, functions, and portability are re-writing the rules on how to convey channel management information for Hanson Marketing’s clients who are channel leaders in consumer and trade sectors.

Now comes a Wall Street Journal survey that reveals an increase in reading and in the purchase of new books. 40% of the 1200 respondents say that they read more books since owning an e-reader (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, iPad).

E-Screen Interface Changes Work and Play Habits


The norms of digital interface and its effect on work and leisure patterns are established in the consumer world, but as always there are implications for business-to-business channel management. At Hanson Marketing, we advise current and prospective clients that securing and maintaining face time with their channel partners is priority one, whether they be consumer retailers or trade wholesalers. Using personal e-screens is a natural next step.

For instance: as head of channels in the b-2-b space, you can push daily dashboard readouts on sales performance to your partners’ e-screens, for real-time assessment and on-the-go corrective action. The value you provide your partners trumps your competitors — as you shape your partners’ daily management styles, you take on the role as preferred provider.

Reading the WSJ survey results, I noted that about half of all Americans ages 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure. I had one of those “we’re not like the others” moments. Reading for pleasure in my family is a reflex action, like channel surfing or texting. We’ve seamlessly cut over to e-reading and e-viewing, too, with a collection of Kindles and iPads strewn about.

Read more: A Look at the Reading Habits of E-Reader Owners

Japan’s Online Mall Rakuten Makes Global Bid

Japan’s largest online shopping mall is making a bid to become the leading global online shopping mall. With 7 million+ registered members in Japan, Rakuten already has a beach head in the US (they own buy.com with its 12 million members) and the EU (just bought France’s Price Minister with 12 million members) On the way to their planned 27-country expansion through end of 2012, they’ll bump up against eBay and amazon and myriad regional power e-tailers.

The world of online retail is fragmented and de-centralized, with neighborhood boutiques jostling alongside Rakuten and those other behemoths. I foresee success for Rakuten in enabling a highly personalized “shopping bubble” experience, wherein each of us are in constant contact with our own personal shopping mall; but in the form of an anonymous back-end engine. That will mean a complete absence of a Rakuten brand, in favor of a “[Your name here]’s Store” approach… even bypassing the home page banner that we now see on eBay, Buynow, or other sites.

Remember the “We’re Beatrice” campaigns of the 1980s? Sometimes, when a conglomerate tries to step out front and win brand loyalty, it comes back and bites them. Annual sales of Beatrice, mega-holding company, were roughly $12 billion by 1984. It was during this year that the corporation ended advertisements for its products with the catchphrase “We’re Beatrice”; the red and white “Beatrice” logo would simultaneously appear in the bottom right hand corner. It was determined that the campaign alienated consumers, calling attention to the fact that it was a far-reaching multinational corporation, and the campaign was pulled off the air. (read more here).

Channel leaders and brand marketers can succeed in the online shopping mall by maintaining focus on brand personalization. That means direct-to-consumer promotions that goose shoppers toward Rakuten-driven, personalized shopping malls. If you’re a brand manager for a consumer manufacturer, you don’t worry so much about who owns and runs the shopping mall, as who its tenants are. By the same token, you’ll continue to focus on reaching consumers through personalized online shopping portals with little regard to the Rakuten engines running in the background.

Can any one provider ever really claim title as The World’s Online Mall? If anyone can, Japan can. I feel Japan’s expertise in in-home shopping will push them to the front of the pack — already, Japan Travel Bureau offers vacation souvenirs for sale and delivery to its travel customers BEFORE they leave on their trip.

Of note, Rakuten has become the first significant Japanese company to nominate English as the official in-house language, including among staff in Japan. CEO Hiroshi Mikitani states that this will be practice by the end of 2012… which coincides with the company’s ambitious expansion plans. Read more at a blog post on this topic.

Let's Shopping! 🙂

Smart Channel Partner Formation and Collaboration: Online Tools

An innovative tool for channel experts is online and free. Check out Partnerpedia.com and take the tour to get a feel for how it will start making life easier for channel leaders in any sector. What I like about it most: collaboration tools and tailored partner management solutions. Overall, just a great, well thought-out way to address channel leadership challenges.

When companies like Cisco are relying upon their channels for up to 80% of their revenues, you know it’s time you took a closer look at how you’re running channels now. Here’s one great online tool.

Blog at WordPress.com.