The Best Way to Prevent Channel Conflict? Survey Says…

conflictThe 2112 Group’s survey of North American IT solution providers, service providers and telephone agents, shows that this group finds deal registration the most effective tool for maintaining fairness and consistent channel sales engagements with partners. In fact, deal registration ranked twice as effective as the next tool on the list, co-selling/co-management.

What’s interesting here is that while deal registration is found most effective, it’s usually a rather poorly implemented tool. Vendors often lack fair, comprehensive or well-communicated programs, and partners subsequently avoid reporting opportunities until the last possible minute.

Even so, no matter how great the program is, if you have a healthy market for an offering that’s in demand, there’s no way to completely eliminate conflict. Successful vendors usually have more than one reseller in each of their territories, so there’s naturally going to be conflict. But the good news is that conflict can be managed – and, really, it must be. If it’s not, you’ll lose partners, and your reputation as a vendor will deteriorate. Remember, there are always competitors ready to swoop in and work more fairly with your partners – or to pick up the slack on opportunities your partners are now no longer able to sell.

Deal registration best manages conflict when vendors design it as more than just an online tool. When developed as a well-thought-out program that maintains fairness, it allows partners to trust that everyone – direct or indirect seller – registers deals. And vendors know that customers can purchase from anyone they want.

It should support the person who registered the deal while also supporting, in a lesser way, those who come second to the table or don’t receive the approved deal registration. That way, you’re able to maintain the fairness, again understanding that customers can choose anyone.

It has to be consistent. Whoever you choose to give the approved deal registration, it has to be your horse in the race. In other words, it’s the party that you as a vendor need to support fully along the way. Your partners need to be made very aware and trust that is how your deal registration program works.

Vendors need to give partners good reason to trust the policy.  If a partner registers first, they have to trust that they’re protected, and that you’ll support them even if someone else comes in after them. They’ll respect that when it’s a policy that’s consistently applied – and they’ll more easily accept their fate if their registration is rejected next time.

So really it’s not deal registration – it’s clarity and consistency in the rules that’s the best tool for managing channel conflict. Partners need to believe that vendors play by the rules they’ve established. They need to trust that if they get the most information into the system, get it in early and work with the sales organization, they’re going to be the partner approved for registration.