Mention the channel, and many people automatically think of supply chains and getting products to market. But professional services groups, consultants and integrators know channel partnerships as ones in which two or more companies form an alliance to offer different but complementary products or services to a common customer for mutual gain.
* What benefits do you bring to a channel partnership? Channel partners benefit from sharing and meeting customers and from new opportunities to create revenue together. Customers benefit from gaining products or services not previously available to them.
* Provide an example of a recent channel partnership you formed. Two companies already working in the same vertical industries that are looking for ways to add value to their role with clients could form a channel partnership. An example is an alliance formed between a company that supplies technology products in the security market and an IT consulting company with business expertise in that same market.
* What makes you a worthy channel partner? It is most important to partner with a reliable company that has a proven track record in that market. As in life, you are known by the company you keep. If you present a potential channel partner to your client, the partners performance will reflect on your QOS (quality of service) to that customer.
* What sets you apart from your competitors as a channel partner? The business competencies and the technical expertise of that company should complement, not compete with, what you offer, and the partners added benefit should fit in with your overall market strategy.
* How would you create revenues as a channel partner? Since many channel partnerships are initially formed for the convenience of current customers, a first-time partnership may provide its biggest returns in improved customer relationships. Larger financial returns should follow as channel partnerships grow over time—as your partners introduce you to new customers and, together, as you bring new products and services to your customers.
* What steps would you take to make a partnership successful? First, establish trust. When you commit to a project together, you get to watch each other work, side by side, over the course of several months. You get to understand each others subject matter and technology expertise. At the same time, each company needs to give the other access to key development staff and senior technical and business leaders. That will enable each company to develop confidence in the process; in that fashion, trust will be developed.
* What has been the largest factor in your previous channel partnership successes? Many partnerships are more about publicity, and they dont always lead to measurable business results. The partnerships that do are the ones built on the mutual trust of the companies senior leaders.
*Whom in your company would you put into channel partnership roles? The employees who bring a unique blend of subject matter expertise, technical competence, strong communication and consulting skills, and professionalism—the project superstars. When you are first exposed to potential partners, put your best and brightest in front of them. It makes a great first impression.
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