by Steve Murphy

In the beginning, deal or opportunity registration was created to help vendors manage channel conflict and help channel partners protect profitability or compete on a level playing field.

The concept worked well. In fact, it has worked so well that nearly every technology vendor’s partner program features deal registration as a key component in obtaining the maximum program benefits. The problem from the reseller’s perspective has been that too much of a good thing can be a problem as the sheer number of registration programs expanded and the ability to keep track of them surpassed the channel partner’s internal capacity to take advantage of them. As a result, industry estimates are that more than 40% of qualified opportunities never get registered. What’s worse is that there’s no easy way to measure if that’s even accurate!

What’s in it for Partners? – Consistency

Nearly every reseller will tell you that they cannot afford to spend customer-facing time tracking down all the extra discounts, rebates and/or soft benefits for every new vendor in their portfolio. For new opportunities, the process of registering a new customer or deal is time consuming and when multiple vendors are involved it can be overwhelming. So much so that many of the larger North American reseller organizations have engaged Vartopia to aggregate the registration forms from leading vendors so they can use a one screen process to register each component of a customer solution rather than going to each vendor’s partner portal.

A multi-vendor deal registration network like Vartopia’s supports both multi-vendor and single vendor deals as no single-vendor registration process can. The value to reseller then expands to be able to use the network for all their registrations. This creates key benefits that many resellers have already tapped into directly and, in some cases, have even integrated with their CRM to provide:

  • Visibility: Every registration with participating vendors is tracked centrally providing easy access to all qualifying registration activity, including vendor disposition, turnaround time, close ratio, etc. Reporting is provided at the individual, team and location/territory level to ensure everyone has line of sight to all his or her activity by vendor.
  • Operational alignment: Registrations are managed based on the reseller’s preference – either registered directly by the individual partner sales rep or SE or on their behalf by an authorized admin so the information flow is consistent and uniform.
  • Simplicity: Single, easy to use workflow that captures all the customer data onceand all the vendor required data for each participating vendor in a multi-vendor solution

What’s in it for Vendors? – Ease of Doing Business

But the ‘one-stop shop’ for opportunity registration stops short if the resellers’ preferred vendors are not participating in the registration network. This creates an ease of doing business opportunity, particularly for any emerging vendor whose products and services – and partner networks – are tightly integrated with the major vendor ecosystems represented in the network. Let’s face it, no matter how you cut it, adding one more deal registration form/portal/login/workflow, etc. is not making it easier for the partner. Putting your registrations inside the reseller’s business process does.

And think about the difference between a partner bundling your product or service as part of a multi-vendor customer solution rather than trying to sell it as a post-sale upsell opportunity. For secondary and tertiary technologies, getting attached to the initial opportunity is far preferable to competing for the upsell opportunities. How much of your business is standalone from your partners’ perspective? How easy is it for your partner to include you in a multi-vendor solution?

What’s in it for both? – Persistent Insight

Whether or not your 100% channel or have a hybrid direct/indirect model, persistent registration of every opportunity is an effective way to maximize your visibility to partner pipeline activity and minimize the potential for channel conflict.

Without clear, compelling benefits, however, your partners aren’t as likely to register activity or may not do so until it’s well past stage where you can help them win the deal. Provide additional content and tools to help resellers move approved opportunities through the pipeline. Consider automating workflows so that when your Channel Account Manager approves a Registration, the approval also embeds links to the appropriate sales playbooks or other content from your portal that a partner sales rep or SE may need. Think about leveraging the approval to help drive greater use of all the co-branded content you’ve developed.

Don’t stop at just provisioning the content or tools; be sure to measure their impact. Incorporate reseller progress in your account managers’ quarterly reviews.

An advantage of using a multi-vendor network instead of a standalone registration process is that you can be reasonably sure that the reseller is getting better data becaus it’s generated by their reporting tools or within their CRM. You can leverage their reports to help them identify and resolve bottlenecks, track your performance against SLAs (another proof point for your partner sat efforts) and drill down on converted opportunities to closee deals to identify areas for improvement. In short, use the registration data to provide partner support and demonstrate its value.

One Final Thought – Impact on Partner Recruitment

The 2013 CompTIA Third Annual State of the Channel Study: Channel Conflict and Deal Registration Trends study reported that more than eight in 10 reseller firms surveyed say the existence of a deal registration program is a critical or important factor into their decision to partner with a vendor. Yet, at the same time, more than six in 10 reported significant challenges or problems including poor communications and technical challenges.

For an emerging vendor, participating in a proven registration network can eliminate many of those technical challenges. This won’t make your partner relationship by any means but it can remove one potential deal-breaker in the partner onboarding process. After all, for those resellers already using the multi-vendor network, there’s no new learning curve.

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