The Channel Needs a Rainmaker CertificationBy Michael Vizard | Posted 2008-02-19 Email Print
The vendor that figures out how to reward solution providers that influence sales will be writing the next chapter in the channel's evolution.
At most major law firms there is an elite group of lawyers known as
the rainmakers. These attorneys are not necessarily the best legal
minds in the firm, but are the people with the best client
relationships, which in turn allows them to drive a lot of business for
the all the people that work at their firms.
The channel, of course, has more than its fair share of rainmakers but many of them are becoming increasingly distant from the vendors that they once relied heavily on. This is happening for two reasons.
The first is the advent of managed services where solution providers increasingly feel that they don't need to specifically handle the sale of the actual product being deployed by the customer. Instead, they will offer to manage that equipment while directing the customer to specifically purchase the product through a company such as CDW or Dell.
The second instance of this trend comes from solution providers that feel that the price of the products is having a negative impact on the price of their services. If they sell their service without selling the actual product, they feel that they can get a higher margin for their services because the customer doesn't equate the cost of the service to the relative cost of the actual product.
In both models, the solution provider more often than not is directly influencing what technologies and products are being purchased by the user, but has no particular incentive to guide the customer to one product or another. The reason this incentive is lacking is because most vendor channel programs are designed to reward the organizations that actually sell the product versus the people, aka rainmakers, who might have actually set up the deal in the first place.
Some vendors offer programs that reward what they call influencers, but most of those programs are designed to give somebody like an accountant a modest fee for passing on a lead to a solution provider. What rainmakers need are channel programs that reward them for generating product sales that give them the real benefits of being in a vendor's channel program, namely technical training on their products and leads for their IT service organizations.
Some vendors might argue that the rewards for selling the product should go to the organization that actually sells the product, but without the efforts of the rainmakers there would be no sale in the first place.
So the vendor that comes up with a real program for rewarding rainmakers is likely to gain channel market share over rivals that continue to ignore the real value of solution providers that don't necessarily resell product.
Naturally, this presents challenges when it comes to actually measuring these contributions because most vendor channel systems are not set up to track and reward people for anything other than actually selling the product.
So don't hold your breath about when we might see actual programs designed to reward the true influence of the rainmakers in the channel. But one thing is for sure: The vendor that gets this new equation right is going to write the next chapter of evolution in the channel that all rest will have to follow.