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Holistic Customer Approach: A Partners’ Perspective

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Holistic Customer Approach: Partner's Perspective
Holistic Customer Approach: Partner's Perspective photo by Aaron Burden

This week let’s explore what it looks like from a partner’s perspective.

An Unlikely Analogy Helps Align Interest Between Vendor, Partner and the End-User Customer

A company engaged DesiredPath to help them develop their playbook (i.e. standardized methodology) to drive increased product adoption and usage.

The company’s revenue model relies on its customer’s customers, or end users, to use its products.

In other words, the company relies on channel partners to integrate the products into the partner’s software platforms, and to sell, deploy and drive adoption of the resulting solutions to end users.

Consequently, the company’s focus was on its partners and product integration, not on the enablement of the end users who ultimately use the capabilities.

They left the responsibility of the latter up to their partners to execute (or not as it turns out is the case).

The business model was very vendor-centric and worked for its core products in large part due to industry regulation mandating the use of these solutions.

In other words, the government was generating end user demand and ongoing usage of the company’s products, therefore they had not had to consider enabling its partners to do so.

End users were already “motivated” to adopt and use the solutions anyway, so the partners were not worrying about this.

The problem was that the model was not working for their newer, non-regulated products where the absence of regulations means that demand was no longer being created for them.

Not surprisingly, the utilization of those products was not where the company wanted it to be.

We therefore developed a customer-centric business model taking into account the need to enable both the channel partners and, indirectly, the end users who ultimately drive utilization.

But how does a company transition from a vendor-centric to a customer-centric approach?

The concept between the two is logically understood, but when it comes to creating the plays to execute, that company was reverting back to a direct, vendor-centric approach.

Old habits die hard.

Their tendency was to want to conduct direct education for their partners and end users as well which was not scalable.

Instead, we created a plan to use the customer journey and corresponding use cases to influence the partner product roadmaps (i.e. ensure the functionality is made available to end users faster), and build enablement programs that partners can use to improve end user demand and adoption (i.e. create the tools partners can use to increase customer interest and usage).

So, what was the trick in changing the thinking around this?

Dating was the unlikely analogy that surprisingly resonated in driving the point across.

Read here for an amusing look at what vendor-centric vs customer-centric would look like on a date.

Bottom Line: Opportunities are Created Through Your Customer’s Point of View

In a channel model, it is arguably more important to operate in a customer centric manner where a vendor relies on its partners to first integrate, then release, sell, train and deploy the solution to end users.

It becomes even more important that end users understand the value so they demand the functionality and influence partners to integrate quickly and enable their wanting customers.

The customer journey and associated use cases generates this end user demand that influences the partner’s product roadmap ensuring that the integration of the vendor’s products remains a high priority and actually gets released.

The use cases also form the basis for enablement programs that allow the partners to better sell and train its end users on functionality that is important to them.

If a company relies on end users through a channel to drive business, then it better be sure it generates pull through demand of its products by focusing on the end user’s use cases and aligning the business interests of all three parties accordingly.

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