"Organizations tend to look at the customer journey only. But we must do the same for our partners and analyze the touchpoints we have with them as well. From the moment we onboard them to the support of that first sale, we must make sure we are equipping them for success."
Jayme Kiester, VP of Channel Partnerships at HGS has been named a Channeltivity Channel Champion. Channel Champions are selected because they have built thriving relationships with their partners and are growing their channel in exciting ways.
Jayme sat down to talk with us about the strategies honed and used in his career that have enabled him to repeatably build strong, successful channel programs.
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been in Channel Management?
I’ve been involved in the channel for most of my career. My start with it began at some smaller telecom organizations and from there it has been mostly focused within tech companies. In my current role as VP of Channel Partnerships with HGS, I’m building the channel strategy from the ground up for a great organization.
What I love about partnerships is the relationship building and the consistent enablement to help the partner become successful. The ability to enable hundreds or possibly thousands of partner reps to refer and support your products and services can have a huge impact on reaching potential customers that you wouldn’t normally have access to.
What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) faced growing a channel program?
I believe that gaining awareness and mindshare from the partner is the biggest challenge faced by channel programs. Partners represent multiple brands, so it’s important to find that value proposition that speaks to them.
I think a lot of channel leaders neglect partner enablement. My philosophy is a three-prong approach. First, person to person relationships are key and are the traditional method that channels use to build partnerships. But that’s not the only thing. Secondly, to scale efficiently and effectively, there must be a self-serve component as well. If we give partners access to a portal/training where they can consume information they need on their own, we are meeting them where they are. Thirdly, we need marketing communications so that they are informed of product and service updates, training options, and recent wins together.
What do you believe has the biggest impact on the success of a channel program?
Building relationships is paramount for success. Whether your channel program is a reseller or referral program, the partners who are bringing you into their client base want to make sure they are the trusted advisor. To do this, there must be trust between partners as they are putting their name out on the line by promoting you and your company. We want to make sure they are comfortable doing that, and that they are providing the best service possible when representing us. Self-service tools, such as Channeltivity, are critical to support this and to enable quicker onboarding and ease of working with us.
What do you believe are the key traits to look for in a good potential partner?
The most important trait to look for is the alignment between what products they sell and what you offer. Are they complimentary? Also, you want a partner with an organization that has the same target buyers that you have.
How do you believe PRM solutions, like Channeltivity, can help a program best execute their channel strategy?
I first found Channeltivity when searching for a way to better enable our partners to help themselves. We were first using Salesforce Communities and we needed to get a consultant to come in and help us build it. This is costly and doesn’t allow you to be quick and nimble to disperse content. Channeltivity was what made me realize what is possible regarding partner enablement. It’s my sales and marketing engine, and the Salesforce CRM integration is key to pass qualified leads from the deal registration module to our internal organization who uses Salesforce.
A PRM also enables us to analyze what content is resonates with our partner. Based on what is working with them, we can adjust as needed and make sure we are giving our partners the tools to make them successful.
What I like about Channeltivity is that I can go in myself and change any content I want. That flexibility is just what I need. One of my favorite things about the platform is that I’m able to bring in multiple different outside web-based tools into the portal.
Many channel organizations expect partners to go to all the different platforms they supply for items like training and support and this can be overwhelming to your partner and doesn’t make your organization “Easy to do business with.”
In what ways do you believe Partners benefit from your having a PRM?
It’s a one-stop shop where they can go in any time and from any device. We can update marketing material quickly to make sure partners always have the newest information. I have found deal registrations go up when using Channeltivity because it’s easy to access for them.
How do you ensure leadership is onboard with your organization’s channel program?
We give our internal salespeople all the tools we can to be successful and there is no reason we shouldn’t be doing that for partners as well. If your current sales tools are for internal use, pare down that information for partner use. Equip them to be that trusted advisor. When talking with the executive team, I show how having these self-service materials help partners best represent us and our brand and allow us to be successful more quickly.
What words of advice would you have for growing channel programs?
Organizations tend to look at the customer journey only. But we must do the same for our partners and analyze the touchpoints we have with them as well. From the moment we onboard them to the support of that first sale, we must make sure we are equipping them for success. For partners, look at the journey, look at touchpoints, and learn how to fill the gaps if there are any. Sometimes those gaps can be fixed with better communications or better process. Also, as I’ve mentioned before don’t expect that success will come from the relationship piece only. Use tools such as Channelitivity to provide that self-service approach.