How to maintain the three pillars of channel relationships

A group of people sat around a table discussing business data.

The overarching theme critical to everyone operating in the global IT channel is relationships. It’s evident even by the way companies refer to themselves and each other as ‘channel partners’. Working together is essential, and it’s why the channel industry continues to thrive during periods of disruption.

Not only do these need to be forged in the first place, however, but maintained over time, and in different forms. Evidence of strong relationships can be seen in three key pillars: internally in employee relationships within the business, externally with other collaborative partners, as well as externally with customers.

Investing and communicating

For any business, it’s important that relationships within the company are solid, and how important these are to cultivating high-performance teams. A positive culture, the level of internal investment and the value felt by employees are all critical in creating a strong organisational structure.

Team members are the same people who are going to be creating and maintaining external relationships, so it’s essential that everyone’s delivering the same consistent messages and quality of service.

Moreover, creating a positive work environment where workers feel appreciated and motivated will help to improve and maintain overall morale. This can be done by continuously communicating your company's core mission and values.

It’s also important that companies are transparent with their employees and keep them in the loop. They must feel involved with business decisions, beyond feeling that they are valued members of a team. Companies can do this by investing in new offices, offering flexible working, and running social events throughout the year.

Collaboration creates a win-win situation

It’s critical that businesses in the channel are investing as much, if not more, time, effort and money into external relationships with others in the channel, whether that be customers or companies they work in collaboration with. Channel companies need to strengthen these ties to ensure they have the infrastructure to provide the breadth of services their end-user clients demand in a market where customer experience and business outcomes continue to rule.

Trying to run a model that operates entirely self-sufficiently from other companies is a risky plan. As customers’ desire for a widening remit of services is increasing faster than ever before, it’s more efficient for channel partners to manage these services through outsourcing and collaborating rather than trying to develop a new skill-set internally.

As the level of service that customers are now demanding can rarely be delivered by a single partner, collaboration between two or more channel partners is invaluable to remain relevant and innovative. Partners must also ensure they’re creating strong relationships with others to stimulate growth through new business, and increased customer loyalty. By communicating the benefits and advantages that other channel partners can reap from collaboration, partners can proactively build stronger relationships that will add value to their business.

Trust is key to long-term customer relationships

The final, and most importantly, key relationship for channel partners are long-standing ones with their customers. These are the partnerships that bring in revenue and upon which success depends. Each customer is unique and should, therefore, be supported differently on a case by case basis.

Instead of telling each customer what you can offer them, it’s important to understand their specific needs and which services they’re looking for. This is why we’re blessed with two ears and just one mouth. By understanding what customers want, it’ll allow partners to deliver tailor-made solutions, building relevant services that cement trust over time.

To be a trusted channel partner you need to build up a reputation of trust and reliability over a long period of time, moreover. You must continue evolving to remain relevant by delivering business outcomes and driving IP and value in both yours and your customers’ business.

To maintain positive, long-standing relationships with customers, it’s important that channel partners are open, honest, and transparent. These traits go a long way in maintaining any lasting relationship, and it’s no different in the channel than in other walks of life. It’s a great way to build trust and ensure customers have confidence in what you are providing. Keeping customers up to date with new innovations in services and solutions means that they’ll believe that their partners value their business and are always providing leading solutions that keep providing a differentiator for them with their own end-user clients.

Stronger together

Relationships play an integral role in every channel business and are essential for growth and development. By channel partners investing in their employees, they create a team that's willing to work to create these stronger partnerships. Channel partners must continually work on maintaining strong relationships with employees and team members, with customers, and with partners, in order to develop their services and continue to remain relevant with the ever-changing environment of the technology channel.

With stronger channel relationships across both your own and your partners’ businesses, you can provide the foundation required to drive innovation and change to the next level and outperform your strategic business goals.