Jan De Bondt is a partner at Devenyn & Partners, a European-based management consultancy firm.
During this Channel Expert Q&A session with Computer Market Research, De Bondt identifies certain challenges taking place in modern distribution channels.
What are some of the challenges that partners are facing when it comes to doing business with their vendors?
Today, the majority of channel partners struggle with vendor management. On average, a partner sells product from between 15 to 30 vendors [or more], which requires signifigant time and resources.
Another challenge for parters is the way in which vendors communicate with their channels. Partners receive a multitude of messages, mostly e-mails sent from corporate offices, regional offices, distributors and from local channel account managers.
Partners tend to get the same message 4-6 times. Add social media into the mix and the amount of messages explodes exponentially. You could argue that more is better, but this tends to have the exact opposite effect.
Channel partners also struggle to comply with partner program rules. The main reasons for this are that programs tend to frequently change, are too complex, or often demonstrate a lack of transparency.
Partner noncompliance almost always leads to less favorable conditions, thus less profitability. On the other hand, complex partner programs can make it difficult for vendors to recruit new partners, even if the technology is worth selling.
What is a challenge that vendors are currently facing?
The amount of Partner-Facing Time [PFT] that channel account managers have with their partners. PFT is the amount of time spent by a channel account manager in the field versus time spent in the office.
In reality, it’s time that can be spent on actual channel sales and development.
How much time should channel account managers be dedicating in the field?
A healthy PFT percentage is above 60 per cent. Administrative related tasks outside of the field should ideally be kept to 20-40 per cent of a channel account manager’s time.
As a general rule of thumb, if it doesn’t immediately relate to partner business, it should consume as little time as possible. After all, the action happens in the field, not in the office.