4 Things NOT to Do When Building a Successful Partner Ecosystem
We’ve seen partner ecosystems come and go. How can we learn from the past to build a solid ecosystem for the future?
If you look at a company like Microsoft, the 90s were a good example of when a great partner ecosystem came alive almost on its own. Microsoft added value through building a great product and really didn’t have to do much else to find its partners. There were no co-op dollars or big marketing programs to support the partners.
So what made this such a successful partner ecosystem? The partners sold the product. The partners marketed the product. The partners supported the customers. The partners implemented the solutions. And most importantly, the partners built intellectual property on top of Microsoft products, forming a healthy ISV ecosystem that completed the product.
Fast forward 10, 15 years.
Microsoft, as with others like Infor and Netsuite, started taking over marketing and the creation of vertical solutions from their partners. Think about it. If you talk about vertical solutions, Oracle and the rest of the vendor community dove right in to create a lot of such solutions to meet customer demand. Perhaps the vendors felt their partners were not fast enough, not good enough.
But are these software product vendors really better in creating vertical solutions?
As the vendors took over more and more of what used to be the partners’ role, the role partners played in the value chain kept changing.
When leads dried up, some partners felt they needed their vendors to find customers for them and market the partner’s value on top of doing product marketing.
When vendors take over most of the marketing, that is another step down the slippery slope of a partner ecosystem gone bust.
At some point, vendors even began communicating directly with customers, and in many cases, ended up selling directly and cutting out the partner completely.
Where partners used to bring value in local implementation 10 years ago, the landscape has changed. Web meetings and online tools all redefine what it means to offer implementation as a local expertise. If (local) installation is the only value-add a partner has to offer, the ecosystem will soon lose most of its relevance.
Acumatica is committed to building a healthy partner ecosystem. That means we don’t do everything. Sure, we’re working hard to build our product brand. But we are in this together with our partners.
How do we build a successful partner community?
Here are four things not to do as a vendor:
- Do not take over full demand generation. Partners need to know where to find their prospects and how to talk to them.
- Do not do the sales for your partners. We will help partners develop the sales capability, but we want partners to exercise that sales muscle themselves.
- Do not build deep vertical solutions. Partners have a great opportunity to turn special expertise into intellectual property and unique services to stand out in the crowded marketplace.
- Do not offer direct support. Support your partners but don’t take over the dialogue with the customer, thus allowing your partners to pass on their responsibility to know their customers and the technology implementation.
Acumatica should focus its resources on the hundreds of horizontal solution areas that can be innovated on to solve customer needs. This is how Acumatica’s product will stay ahead of the competition and provide the best ERP solution available in the cloud.
We realize we are setting a high bar on what it means to be a good Acumatica partner, but this is needed to create a robust partner ecosystem — a throwback to the heyday of the partner as the customer’s hero — that is good business for everyone.
We have no intention of replacing our partner. We want partners to step up to the plate to be the best they can be. And so will we, with the product we create.
We’re different. We’re partner-led. We’re new technology doing business in a proven, traditional way.
Stijn Hendrikse is the Chief Marketing Officer at Acumatica.
Republished with permission from Stijn Hendrikse.