by Steve Murphy

Recently there has been a spate of posts in CRN UK about deal registration and the potential need for given suspected abuse. The first was an article by Jack Gilbert “Deal Registering your Granny” followed by a blog post by Doug Woodburn “Deal Registration or no deal registration’ and then thoughtfully countered with an excellent opinion piece by Sophos’ James Vyvyan, ‘Vendors have the power to end false deal registration.’

In our experience, the idea that resellers are submitting too many deal flies in the face of the reality that far too often qualifying deals are not getting registered. As Vyvyan points out, the “idea behind deal registration is to provide an early identification of an opportunity. It is not to flag up that you have a deal just about to close.” In our studies and discussions with many leading vendors, we’ve found that as many as 40% of qualifying deals don’t get registered.

One alleged behavior alluded to in the article was the notion that some resellers were registering the same deal with competing vendors. Most vendors have program rules to preclude that behavior. Were this behavior widespread, we would expect to see a drop in both approval rates for deals submitted and/or close rates for registered deals. We have not.

In our view, the sooner a qualifying deal gets registered the greater is its value to both the reseller and the vendor. This doesn’t mean that there’s any benefit for registering bogus opportunities or protecting non-existent relationships.

What’s ‘broken’ – in our judgment – is that the process has become too burdensome for many resellers based on the sheer number of partner programs and independent portals they need to manage. If the system favors larger resellers as one critic suggested due to their capability to register many more deals than smaller firms because they “have teams of people who register deals – that’s all they do,” then it just might be more about resources and tools than questionable business practices. Tools can help level the playing field by making it easier for resellers of every size to take advantage of deal registration when there’s a viable opportunity.

If you’re a vendor, when deals are registered early in the selling cycle, you can support the selling process with just-in-time sales tools, collateral and technical support to help close the deal. So, if higher visibility, improved marketing effectiveness, and increased close rates are achieved via deal registration, what might vendors need to do to encourage more deals to get registered sooner?

First, vendors should encourage every reseller organization to be committed to operationalizing the process – and ensure there was executive level/ownership commitment to ensuring all qualifying deals get registered. Operationalizing the process can help resellers ensure that they get the benefits they’ve earned.

Providing a discount or incremental margin is a broadly used approach, enticing partners to provide early pipeline visibility in exchange for incremental profitability. This helps partners both protect and offset their customer investments required to nurture and develop the opportunity which seems like an effective means to level the playing field. That’s a great first step, but building a repeatable process for doing the right thing the right way requires a fact-based, data-driven approach.

Making it easy for partners to submit a request is only the beginning. To ensure that their submissions are acted upon quickly with the rules enforced consistently, is every vendorr’s responsibility. Also, each reseller should have the tools to manage the registration process from their end. They, too, need to have visibility to all their registrations so they can track them all easily to help identify and quickly resolve any bottlenecks. Your partner portal can provide the place to submit deal registrations but without tools to track their approval status and monitor deals through each stage in their pipeline, it’s difficult for resellers to see the progress much less the benefits from each registration. Further, each reseller has their own territory and selling hierarchy. Providing the tools that enable them to actively manage deals within their selling process while they’re in development helps them operationalize deal registration more effectively into their business process. For a growing number of resellers that have made significant resource investments in their CRM tools – enabling deal registration to integrate with their CRM is another step to operationalizing the process.

The pros and cons of approving deals on a first come/first served vs. value-added approach can be argued and should be – there’s no one ‘fits all’ answer to that. But what shouldn’t be argued is the need for vendor transparency and responsiveness. Empowering resellers to manage the process effectively – and then working toward greater adoption and utilization of your partner program’s sales tools by their teams should be the goal of any vendor.

As Vyvyan said, “it’s a partnership” – both vendors and partners have responsibility to ensure their mutual success. I quite agree that registration is not the end of the process; rather it’s just the beginning. More on that in a later post.

For more info on optimizing deal registration for your resellers, please contact us to request a demo.

If you’re a reseller, we encourage you to participate in our Reseller Study of Vendor Partner Programs. We’d really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance.