Under Every Stone? The Challenge of Managing Partners

As we get ready for Cloud Partners in September, I’m reveling in the success that we’ve had with our partners. For me, they’re the key that opens the door to expanded growth. We have all kinds of partners: resellers, professional services firms, app stores, consultants. I get calls every day asking to be a “partner” of OneBill.

I prefer to be proactive in looking for partners – not every pebble I turn over has a vein of gold in it, of course, but we have to choose partners carefully and wisely.

Managing a partner/resellers/agent channel might be your growth strategy too. If it is, you might have experiences partnerships as energizing and inspiring, a business nightmare or like something you’re just going through the motions with, but producing no results. Like any relationship, you get out of it what you invest in it. There has to be a natural fit between what you do and what they do – in other words, if there isn’t a win-win situation, it’s a waste of time. If you have partnerships that aren’t worth more that the paper they’re on, then you’re not alone. I have a cloud folder full of partner contracts from the past that proved to be unproductive.

Even if there’s win-win potential, success with a partner can be stymied if you can’t support them with repeatable, reliable and (where possible) automated processes. If all your partners jump on board with a common go-to-market model: same products/services from your catalog, same pricing, same partnership terms, then you can probably scale quickly and painlessly. But the reality is often very different. Each type of partner, sometimes each individual partner, might have different terms in their relationship with you. And that’s just the contract. Just wait till you get to the day-to-day management. Oh boy.

Almost all of OneBill customers have, or are planning to have, channel partners – companies that are interested in selling what they offer and adding value to that offer with their own products, service or professional expertise. And the impetus to use channel for growth is these days not a luxury – in some cases it’s an absolutely necessity.

As a result,

  1. Competition for good partners is getting tougher
  2. Traditional partnerships are being replaced by “Born in Cloud” relationships that require a different approach
  3. The more reliance you place on channel for your sales, the greater the challenge and the more time-consuming the support you have to provide

Now OneBill can’t help you with selecting your partners, managing the relationship or writing partner contracts, but where we add value is when you’re actually doing business together. We enable your partner channel to do commerce for you, while making it easier for you to manage the day-to-day. In other words, we bring channel management under control:

With the OneBill PARTNERS module, you can:

  • Sell products through channel partners including wholesale selling.
  • Create reseller partners and agents including commission or other settlements terms.
  • Expose all or part of your catalog to your partners with custom pricing.
  • Settle revenue with channel partners using a variety of settlement modes, including percentage based or fixed amount settlement
  • Enable partners to individually manage, invoice and collect from their end customers/ subscribers (i.e. use all of OneBill’s functionality)
  • Enable branding for reseller partners on invoices and self-service portal
  • Manage a partner hierarchy with different prices at different levels

If using the PARTNERS module (our version of partner management software) would make a difference to your business, or if you’re wondering how you’re going to launch a new partner initiative, we’ll hope to catch up at Cloud Partners, or just email us at marketing@onebillsoftware.com and we’ll send you some more information.

Look out for our news release at Cloud Partners too –we have some recent enhancements that are specifically for cloud businesses.

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