Channel programs are not new - in fact, they have formed the backbone of channel partner strategies and long-term commercial relationships for decades. Within these programs most vendors offer a portal where partners can access important information.
This includes: pricing, marketing information, an ability to register deals, obtain technical and sales training and communicate incentive structures and promotions under the guise of Partner Resource Management (PRM). Channel partners may also receive qualified sales leads for net new opportunities.
While all these partner program features are fine, there’s one area that is often missed…and this is a fundamental requirement in this new era where SaaS is the essential offering.
While your vendors may provide technical support and information for new opportunities, assistance with renewal opportunities (including passing on qualified renewal leads) is much less forthcoming. Most vendor portals are silent here.
Common questions are:
What happens at the end of the first year when the renewal is due? Who keeps track of when the warranty expires or a service contract is due for renewal? Who is expected to manage this process? And how is it being managed?
Despite this often lack of vendor support for renewal opportunities, it’s still in everyone’s interest in the channel to generate the annuity stream that unlocks ongoing customer value from the renewal, but it must be done efficiently and accurately.
So, in the absence of a robust vendor renewal program, the burden of managing renewals falls to the reseller or distributor, which often is done using a spreadsheet. (Interestingly, we've seen many vendors using spreadsheets as well!).
As Tom Groenfeldt observed in the article Avoiding Spreadsheet Hell:
“Excel, easily the most widely used tool in finance, creates risk... Excel, designed for individual users, lacks controls, lockdowns and audit trails.”
VARs and distributors support multiple vendors, have hundreds of customers using thousands of different products. Spreadsheets can get out of control, don’t easily scale with volumes of data and even minor discrepancies create huge problems for customers. Reviewing, reconciling and correcting spreadsheets to prepare for a renewal (with usually a very thin margin) takes days. And even then, mistakes are missed.
There must be an easier (and less risky) way
The renewal process should be a team effort across everyone in the channel. Vendors in this new era of SaaS should provide streamlined and efficient ways for their partners to renew their customers’ products or services with the channel partners supporting them to process the transaction. An automated, no fuss solution to renewals ensures a smoother, faster turnaround on issued quotes…without the excel risks.
So, when you’re lining up your next vendor, or renewing your existing relationships, ask them what their approach is to managing recurring renewal revenue.
And if a vendor’s programs are lacking a proficient renewal management solution, there’s nothing stopping a distributor or VAR from making the process more efficient for themselves – after all you have just as much to gain from it!
iasset.com is built for anyone in the channel to manage renewals with a streamlined and automated process that eliminates lengthy approvals, hundreds of emails, requotes…and spreadsheets! To gain a better understanding of this, read our blog on the 8 traits of highly effective renewal organisations here, or download our free e-Book below!