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Channel collaboration is key for high-tech companies leveraging change management. High-tech firms depend on sales by their channel partners for an increasing share of their revenue. In fact, about 65 percent of revenue for the Global 2000 comes through the channel, based on Accenture experience. Given the primacy of the channel, it’s not surprising that companies are continually looking for ways to strengthen their relationships with partners and enhance partners’ ability to market and sell on their behalf.
In this article, we outline a flexible, scalable change management approach that high-tech companies can use to smooth the implementation and partner adoption of new selling and collaboration tools—off-the-shelf or custom-built, regardless of vendor—and, in the process, help drive increased sales in their chosen markets.
Learn more about Accenture Customer Operations Services
In the high-tech industry, managing channel partners is far from simple. Technology solutions are becoming ever more complex and product lifecycles are shrinking. At the same time, the sales channel has become increasingly segmented: To tap into emerging growth opportunities, many high-tech companies are working with more—and a more diverse set of—partners than ever.
High-tech companies increasingly are relying on collaborative solutions such as Salesforce.com to help them engage, support and manage their growing network of partners.
In Accenture’s experience, getting partners to adopt new solutions can be even more difficult because a high-tech company doesn’t “own” them and they can choose to work with competing suppliers. That’s why high-tech companies need a different approach to partner change management, one that focuses on a partner-centric model and recognizes the unique aspects of the company-partner relationship, thus making change easier.
Accenture’s experience in guiding numerous high-tech enterprises through implementing selling solutions internally and externally to partners reveals leading change management practices that can overcome these potential obstacles and help vendors achieve a successful rollout and adoption.
Change Strategy: At the outset of any change initiative, a high-tech company should first analyze each partner’s business, including its tier level, purchasing history, bookings and product or solution alignment. The company should evaluate the partner’s value as well as its commitment to the high-tech vendor’s business.
Sponsorship: To help buy-in from each partnership, the company should identify partner sponsors as well as internal connection points to these external partners such as sales support staff. Accenture has found that a leading practice is to identify champions inside the partner organization who would support the change, thereby helping to facilitate the broad adoption and use of the new tool.
Communications: The plan should include customized communications based on the partner segmentation and deployment dates (e.g., a mass email can be used for low-touch segments, but a tailored email, telephone call or face-to-face meeting should be used for partners in the high-touch group).
Training: In Accenture’s experience, one of the keys to successful change management is building for the “untrained user.” Because training can be expensive, the capability should be built for intuitive use. Capabilities should be built with training or help integrated into the tool. Training can focus on both application use as well as “tips” for how to integrate with the partners’ business processes.
Business readiness: Just like internal employees, not all partners are equally ready to accommodate the change brought on by the new tool. A vendor, thus, should define a clear governance model focused on identifying, validating, prioritizing and creating a plan for ongoing change impacts across multiple external partners and internal audiences.
For high-tech firms that depend heavily on resellers, selling increasingly complex solutions requires ever-higher levels of collaboration. Vendor and partner would work together to inform, educate and sell to customers. Adding new complexity to this vendor/reseller sales equation is the changing nature of the business dialogue, with the shift from transactional sales opportunities to value-based and solution-led ones. By its very nature, this new business dialogue between partners requires vendor and reseller to work together more closely.
By embracing an approach to partner change management high-tech companies can build a stronger network of partners advocating on their behalf. In the process, they gain a significant advantage in driving toward high performance.Learn more about Accenture Customer Operations Services
March 15, 2013
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