Guest blog by Steven Kellam, SVP of Sales and Marketing at CCI

The sad news is that the divorce rate in the US is over 50%.
So proceed with caution… and learn from those that have gone before you and

Statistical top three reasons why marriages fail:

  1. Financial Problems
  2. Communication Problems
  3. Family/Relationship Problems/Trust

In many ways, it all boils down to tremendous stress, unfulfilled expectations and, most importantly, a failure by both parties to fully commit.

All of this sounds a lot like the relationship challenges cloud vendors are having with their partner community.

As I have traveled the world over the past few years, listening to vendors and partners, the same issues always come up. And somehow most fit into three categories:

1)      Trust

“We are changing our partners and ourselves at the same time – it is truly a
symbiotic relationship.”

Meaghan Sullivan, VP, Global SME & Partner Marketing, SAP

It is a circle of trust – it is hard to come by, it is easy to break, and it is incredibly hard to recapture once it is lost. Partners are risking their livelihoods, or starting from nothing. Either way, they are vulnerable and taking a risk. True they need to make this transition regardless, but that does not make it any easier or less stressful. You, as vendors, have an opportunity to smooth the way for their success with game plans that include: sales, product and technical enablement, continuing education, business guidance, financial assistance, through- and for-partner marketing, timely support, relevant rewards, and lots of love (ie positive reinforcement). Easy right?

2)      Communication

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”


Seth Galvarro, Senior Product
Manager, CCI (describing what, at times, mimics the communication process between vendors and partners in channel).

“My customers are like my wife, if they stop telling me what I’m doing wrong, I’m
in big trouble.”

Jason Dettbarn, Founder & CEO,
Addigy Technology (a Kasaya cloud partner)

“In this digital world when we’re all bombarded by information and content, true
content strategy is really important, no really, I mean it… and unfortunately
few are doing it right.”

Heather Margolis, President &
Founder, Channel Maven Consulting

So we need to be clear, we need to continue to communicate
(that means listening too), and we need to stop screwing this part up.

As everyone knows, partners are bombarded with hundreds of contacts
every day. Communication needs to be relevant, targeted, timely, and measured.
Take the time to understand what your partners need from you and deliver that
efficiently. (Heather Margolis has a great presentation on partner communications
best practices

3)      Execution

“It’s like we are racing together with our partners at 180 mph, our hair is on fire,
and we are changing a tire at the same time.”

Jennifer Shulze, VP, Marketing
Transformation, Cloud Partner Marketing, SAP

In the end, we have to do what we say we are going to do, on
both sides.

Partners need to:

  • Get educated
  • Learn to embrace digital marketing
  • Build the right sales teams, and
  • Demonstrate buy-in and commitment at the executive level.

All of this has to build on a solid business plan that allows a partner to succeed in the new recurring-revenue world. And that takes planning and discipline.

Vendors need to:

  • Build and layout a path for success
  • Show that they are in this blender right next tothe partners
  • Tirelessly champion internally for them
  • Reward those that “play well,” discipline those that don’t, and always follow through on what they say

And, most importantly, collaborate with their partners on a financial model that works for the long haul for both sides.

In a symbiotic relationship, both parties need each other to survive.

It all sounds like a lot of work… as is a long and happy

Interested in learning more about best practices and channel strategy in the Cloud? Join StructuredWeb and CCI at Channel Visionaries: The Cloud Series 2015, a must attend industry event for anyone managing cloud programs.


About the Author 


Steven Kellam, SVP of Sales and Marketing at CCI

As a growth specialist, Steven is
responsible for CCI’s sales and marketing strategy and vision for today’s goals
and objectives, as well as positioning the organization for continued,
long-term success. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a
successful managed services IT business, and a background in manufacturing
where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.