“At IDC, we believe success for partners is based on five core elements. Security is a buoyant segment, but only if you remain relevant and create strong and durable customer relationships. Key to this is developing your own value proposition as a partner,”

says Stuart Wilson, Senior Research Director, EMEA Partnering Ecosystems, IDC

IDC’s five core elements for partner success

In this blog, we explore each of the elements for partner success with IDC expert Stuart Wilson, providing fresh insights for partners on what to prioritise to thrive.

What partners need to prioritize in 2023
What partners need to prioritise.
Stuart Wilson, IDC, Sparking Channel Growth presentation, 2023.

1. Deliver value across the customer lifecycle

By delivering value across the customer lifecycle, partners can become a trusted advisor and create far more influence inside the customer.

“This means building continuous customer engagement and making it a primary focus in your business to always be there for the customer,” advises Wilson. “The partners that struggle to do this are those that are still focused on a single project or transaction, they sell something, and they walk away,” he adds.

Delivering value across the customer lifecycle means prioritising customer success and experience as well, especially as customer demand has evolved to be more solutions and business outcome based.

“Making sure a customer is getting value from the solution they have purchased will bring them back to you in the future. If a customer doesn’t get the value that they could have got from a solution, you’re going to be partially responsible. And the customer will remember that moving forwards. So that is why we say to think across the entire customer lifecycle,” comments Wilson.

“And this is especially true as we move to as-a-Service models. A customer may be signing up for a two- or three-year agreement, so making sure they get value throughout the lifecycle of that agreement is critical,” he adds.

“Making sure a customer is getting value from the solution they have purchased will bring them back to you in the future.”

partner success

2. Provide strategic guidance to customers

“When we interview partners, we often start with one key question,” explains Wilson. ‘As an organisation, are you vendor-led or customer-led? Are you led by the vendors in your portfolio and what they want you to achieve or are you led by the customers that you serve and what they’re asking you to enable for them?”

Wilson believes that getting the balance right is one of the hardest things for a partner to do – but working with distribution can help.

“Distribution enables partners to look across a wider portfolio of vendors and understand how the vendor landscape is emerging and developing. It plays a very valuable role because of its independent position in the middle of the ecosystem. Distribution ensures partners have access to the vendors they need to evolve, and can retain a customer-led focus in terms of how they are developing their business.”

“Balancing the needs of the vendors you represent, and the needs of your customers, is the essence of being a partner.”

3. Heighten opportunity awareness

Disruptive technologies and business priorities such as generative AI and sustainability are creating unprecedented opportunities for the IT channel. But to target new opportunities, partners need to constantly assess their portfolio and see what else they can sell or develop as a solution or service to meet their customers’ needs and objectives in new disruptive technology areas.

“The key message for partners is to never stand still – you must keep looking forward. Quite often, an element of legacy and inertia settles in the business, but you must challenge it. You can’t say: ‘this is what we have done, so this is what we do’, because you may be focusing on a service or a solution that is a diminishing opportunity,” advises Wilson.

“What is your next logical step as a business to target new opportunities?”

4. Commit to distributors and vendors with aligned ambitions

The concept of commitment is becoming much more important for partners because it’s becoming the key to unlocking benefits.

“Partner value is moving beyond pure revenue contribution and vendors understand this. They are beginning to recognise and reward influence as well,” explains Wilson.

Partners need to make sure that they’re accessing all the resources and benefits that are being made available to them by the vendors they’re representing and taking to market to help maximise their capabilities.

“And here distribution has an important role to play in taking the programmes that vendors are initiating and cascading them through to the thousands of partners you are working with. Taking programmes through at scale requires the skill and experience of distribution, and vendors can rely on you to open a wide reseller base as well.,” Wilson comments.

“Vendors are beginning to recognise and reward influence.”

5. Focus on relationships and relevance to boost retention

“The most precious asset a partner has is their relationship with their customers. The more you can focus on your relationships with your customers, the more you can increase your relevance and the more business you can do with those customers,” advises Wilson.

If you are seen as a trusted advisor by a customer, you are in a strong position to influence how they move forward and can ensure you are able to continue to serve them in their transformational journey.

“As a partner, you want to be the first person that your customer calls when they are reading about a new disruptive technology, or thinking about an internal process problem that can be addressed by IT or considering an emerging security threat,” Wilson comments.

For partners, this may mean talking to the line of business executive as well as the IT department. But creating more relevance means constantly evolving as well.

“The key point is that if you build strong customer relationships and have that customer intelligence on an ongoing basis, this will drive your own process of partner transformation. You won’t be guessing where to go next as a partner because you will be developing your business in an intelligent way based on what you are hearing from your customers,” explains Wilson.

“The most precious asset that a partner has is their relationships with their customers.”

Never stand still

For partners, the message from IDC expert Stuart Wilson is clear: “Prioritise the customer relationship and let that be the guiding force for how you evolve your own business.”

You can watch a video of our full interview with Stuart Wilson here.

To discover how Infinigate’s technical expertise, scale and tailored services can spark your growth and enable you to focus on what you are best at, contact us to arrange a meeting.

Stuart Wilson

Stuart Wilson is Senior Research Director, EMEA Partnering Ecosystems, at IDC. He has over 20 years’ experience in partnering, ecosystems and routes-to-market.