Relationships between technology vendors and their channel partners are on solid footing even as they work through issues related to compensation, communication and technical support, according to new research from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). CompTIA is the Downers Grove, Ill.-based nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry and workforce.
CompTIA’s “Partner Experience Trends 2022” is the result of a survey of 400 U.S.-based IT businesses. Two-thirds of IT businesses surveyed characterize their current vendor partnerships as “very strong, growing in engagement” or “strong, steady in engagement.” But there is a caveat. Partners today are far pickier in terms of who they work with and what that particular relationship experience should look like.
“Channel partners enjoy far greater choice of vendors to align with in a marketplace that has expanded in the cloud era,” says Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, at CompTIA. “Greater choice means greater chance to find the most optimal fit. Proactive vendors understand that they need to step up their game and optimize the experience for partners or watch them go elsewhere.”
In the last two years, 50% of channel firms have dropped a vendor due to poor partner experience (PX) practices. While individual channel firms will have their own views on what’s important, they are nearly unanimous in the belief that PX is a top priority.
The CompTIA report reveals that 35% of channel firms say they will only work with vendors that offer a seamless partner experience, while 57% deem PX important enough that they will accept only slight deficiencies in it even from a vendor partner they are generating revenue from.
“Ease of doing business covers many facets of the relationship, from swift technical support responses to transparent pricing and compensation information to effective communications in general,” April adds. “Each of these areas shows signs of improvement but remain works in progress.”
Nearly 40% of channel firms said vendors are reworking compensation models to reflect the changing marketplace where many channel partners are selling fewer products and more complex services. Channel partners still derive a significant amount of their overall revenue via vendor compensation.
The shift to more cloud-based and services-oriented work has also raised expectations among channel partners for technical support from vendors that’s readily available, easy to access and robust in answers and solutions. Nine in 10 partners say a vendor’s technical support process is a significant or moderate priority for them.
Effective vendor communication is another expectation of channel partners, with better than eight in 10 identifying it as a significant or moderate priority. Vendors have responded by offering diversified communications across multiple channels, social media, video and gamification.
Vendors are altering other aspects of their partner programs to better align with changing expectations, whether it is adjusting compensation and benefits programs (cited by 38% of vendors), revamping how they find partners (33%) and adding training around consultative selling (30%). “Smart vendors are constantly looking for ways to proactively build partner interest and loyalty,” April concludes. “They realize that the personal touch still matters.”
Channel partners include managed service providers (MSPs), commercial integrators, solution providers, value-added resellers (VARs) and other firms that market and sell technology solutions for a manufacturer or service provider via a partnering relationship.
The company announced two research briefs on the survey available at connect.comptia.org/content/research/partner-experience-trends-2022-research-brief and connect.comptia.org/content/research/partner-experience-2022-vendor-perspective.