The Taylor Group
International Sales & Marketing Consultants
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Programs for Consulting Companies and Resellers

The old axiom that it's much easier selling a current customer than generating a new one has never been truer. This is especially poignant for IT services and consulting companies. Yet, are current customer relationships fully exploited? Or are you placing a greater emphasis on selling and providing existing solutions and services to new customers to generate the revenue you need?

Sure, times are tough! The IT market and services industry has taken a beating, and it's much more difficult closing business. But, how are you managing the present situation? There are two ways. Either one hunkers down and waits it out or you take the proactive measures to triumph. Having the options, the latter produces the best current and long-term results.

To take a proactive approach to increasing, let alone maintaining, revenue and profits requires strategizing the best ways to help accomplish these goals. This entails reviews of the solutions in your "products and services tool bag" that are available to your sales and business development team. The next step is providing them a bigger "tool bag".

This is not as simple as it sounds. Expanding services offerings without the adequate strategies and due diligence can also become counterproductive. One should not offer the so-called kitchen sink. Being everything to everyone loses one's identity and specialization. Yet, one should continually strive to expand on core competencies.

Doing so will enable more cross-selling opportunities to current clients. The other benefit is that a larger "tool bag" will increase the likelihood of generating new accounts. Corporate America simply does not like working with too many suppliers if it doesn't need to.

Expanding core business solutions also generates additional revenue from the new vendors that one partners or teams with. This is both from a licensing and services perspective. But, there are also caveats to this.

Not all vendor channel programs are created equal. This is true for both the core program as well as for the degree of support provided their partners. Many vendors' alliance programs and departments were dramatically curtailed in the past two years due to the slowdown in corporate IT spending. This needs to be taken into consideration in entering new relationships or alliances.

"Entering a channel program with any potential vendor in a specific niche and then anticipating that leads or vendor-supplied projects will automatically follow is not today's reality. If it were that simple, then every vendor-partner relationship would be hugely successful for the partner."

We, at The Taylor Group, will help you with all the aspects of developing and managing your alliances with existing and new vendors so as to maximize your returns.

Our Alliance Development and Consulting services include:

Current Vendor Assessments
Competitive Research and Analysis
Strategic Planning and Program Development
CRM Systems and Processes, including Opportunity Management
Sales Strategies
Vendor Identification and Selection
Vendor Sales Support Program Analysis
Sales Training
Channel Conflict Management and Mitigation Strategies
Other Aspects of The Taylor Group Alliance Consulting Services

Vendor Program Assessments and Validations
How well are your partnerships working for you? Are you able to generate the revenue that you need? If not, why? Are your existing partners continually demanding more, but supplying less? Are increased program fees and reduced margins cutting into your bottom line?

Periodic vendor assessments need to be undertaken to make certain that current vendor alliances produce for you, and not primarily just for the vendor. They provide the valuable information to enable corrective measures to be undertaken in order to reach the objectives. They also need to be done before expanding your alliances with additional vendors,

We, at The Taylor Group will help you assess your current vendor relationships to help you make certain that everything is on track.

As part of these programs, we review your existing vendor partners' alliance program elements/infrastructure, measure client vendor satisfaction, analyze vendors' market presence, review and analyze vendors' sales programs and initiatives, determine degrees of their control of your business, review any available financials and industry news to monitor their financial health and corporate viability, analyze the sales and teaming opportunities they bring to you, etc. We also assess significant channel trends.

We then make recommendations on how to improve your existing partnerships so that they will work better for you.

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Competitive Research and Analysis
There once was a time in the not too distant past when competition was only one of many factors influencing a sale. Competition was not a critical factor. There was business enough to go around for everyone. Times have changed.

A substantial decrease in the release of budgets for new initiatives and the delay in purchase decisions in many circles have created a major new factor that must be reckoned with…competition. Using FUD can no longer be the major strategy when addressing the competition. Competitive issues or questions raised by prospects and clients must be directly met and answered. Strategies need to be developed for each of one's major competitors.

We, at The Taylor Group provide various competitive research programs and solutions to help address and overcome competition issues.

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Strategic Planning and Program Development
Successful alliances and solutions result from well thought out strategies. Too many times companies overlook or disregard the "get set" aspect of "get ready/get set/go". Many alliances are entered too quickly. Expectations are not well defined or set at all. Rules of Engagement are many times not even addressed. By not doing so upfront, alliances have a much greater chance of not succeeding. Strategy development is so critical to the near and long-term success of these types of programs. Great strategies do not necessarily delay deployment. Rather, their development hastens the time that these types of programs start producing results.

The Taylor Group provides strategic planning and program development services that will help you maximize the success of your vendor alliances. The solutions are pragmatic and are designed to maximize returns with minimum investment. They are also designed so that they can easily be modified to meet your needs.

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CRM Systems and Processes, including Opportunity Management
Turning opportunities into sales is both an art and a science. To maximize the success of any sales program, both need to be well honed. Closing deals is the ultimate goal, but managing the opportunity through the various stages of the sales cycle is just as important. A fine-tuned opportunity management strategy and methodology can help accomplish the ultimate goal and assure that no opportunity falls through the cracks.

The Taylor Group will help accomplish these goals by helping you develop an opportunity management program as part of an overall CRM system if none is yet in place. We will also help you review and analyze an existing program to fine-tune it. This includes an overview of existing sales processes and recommendations for improvements. It also includes assistance with developing sales forecasting processes and methodology tools.

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Sales Strategies
Just as no two vendors are alike, no two partners are alike. So if they are all different, why use a vendor-supplied sales strategy that every other partner has access to and possibly uses? A "one size fits all" solution simply does not create maximum results for the partner.

We, at The Taylor Group will help create customized sales strategies for individual products and solutions, or combinations thereof, which you sell.

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Vendor Identification and Selection
This is where the rubber meets the road. To generate maximum success, the right vendors must be selected to partner with. Vendors may think or prefer to think that they have total control of this process. Wrong! Simply looking at one or two vendors in a specific niche, or only looking at the top vendors and then reaching a decision will oftentimes not produce maximum results. Much more needs to be done in order to reach the best decision. The latest technology or the glitziest features are not always best for your clients or for your bottom line.

By drawing on its extensive North American vendor database, The Taylor Group will help assure that the most appropriate vendors will be approached and selected. We have a detailed knowledge base of the size, product niches and offerings, vertical products, etc. of vendors of any significant size.

We will also help define and develop a vendor profile, which will be used in targeting and selecting potential vendors. We provide vendor-partner mapping services, as well as perform vendor due diligence. After identifying the potential vendors, we will perform preliminary reviews, arrange for product demonstrations and follow-up meetings, assist in the vendor selection process, and negotiate or help to negotiate the corresponding agreements/contracts. The extent of our involvement depends on your needs.

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Vendor's Sales Support Program Analysis
The extent, or limitations, of partner enablement programs has much to do with the relative success of an alliance with a vendor. The only thing worse than a virtually non-existent or insufficient program is a product that does not do what it claims. Included here are all the sales, product, service, and other support program infrastructure to enable the respective partners to become relatively self-reliant. These programs are designed to assist the partners to generate maximum results. They also greatly help to minimize the constant partner handholding that otherwise would have to be done.

Enablement programs vary by type of partnership. A program for VARs is not the same as that for pure Systems Integrators or consulting companies, nor is it the same for OEMs as for Technology Partners. Just as each type of partnership is different, enablement programs for each type are also different and must be made available to the partners.

We, at The Taylor Group, know what to look for in a vendor support program. We will assist you in narrowing your vendor selections, taking these and other vendor-specific factors into account, so as to select the best possible vendor for your needs.

The main categories of these types of support programs from vendors are:

  • Sales Support Material Programs - These are the items that are essential in helping your sales and business development staff help sell the company's systems and solutions. Included, but not all-inclusive, are partner collateral material, Power Point presentations, sales guides/alerts, value propositions, and partner success stories. This is in addition to the support material available to the vendor's direct sales reps.
  • Promotional Programs - These items support the sales efforts. Included here are partner program identification seals, logo exchanges, trade show co-ops, event signage, PR and analysts programs, vendor-partner internet site linkage, etc.
  • Marketing Programs - In order to maximize your level of success, you also need the capability to develop and implement your own marketing programs. Vendors need to provide such types of programs to their partners. Included here are marketing extension, co-op marketing, and prospect database marketing programs.
  • Support Programs - This includes items such as partner newsletters, partner tech bulletins, and partner handbooks.
  • Conferences - These are company conferences specifically developed for partners. They can be stand-alone or part of a company's Users Conference on a regional, national, or international scope.
  • Product Software - Included here are demo and developer systems.
  • Product Support - This includes product maintenance and support programs. Also included here are product update summaries that feature valuable product related information. These can be distributed on a weekly or monthly basis. They keep one's staff informed of all relevant product issues and trends.
  • Product Certification - These are the extension of a company's technical certification program.
  • Partner Proposal System - A valuable key to winning contracts is producing top proposals. These are stand-alone or ASP based systems that will provide the tools to enable your sales and business developers to quickly and efficiently produce the "Best of Breed" proposals.
  • Webcasts/Webinars - Participation in vendor-produced Webcasts/Webinars is an increasingly valuable tool for partners. They are becoming strategically important because they enable virtual presentations and meetings to take place. They can be used for product demos as well as to disseminate other information in a meeting environment. The advantage is that your team members can attend the meeting from your offices, virtual offices, or any other location where they have access to an internet connection. They are also great tools to reduce travel expenses.
  • Partner Intranet Sites / Portals - Partners require greater access to information than clients and prospects. The best way to provide for this is by the development and use of an intranet site that only licensed partners can access. These sites are crucial to providing self-service capabilities to your team for the information and support that it regularly needs.

    Intranet sites contain items that only partners are authorized to view and download. This includes technical information, strategies, white papers, product patches and upgrades, and other items not meant for the general public. These sites also are the entry point for customer support for a partner network. They also significantly help reduce the response time to get the answers, items, and support needed to service one's clients.

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Sales Training
In order to maximize revenue, one must have a well-trained sales or business development force that not only has an excellent understanding of the products and solutions, but also is trained how to sell the respective products. Since one sometimes has a wide assortment of different solutions that are offered clients, there is oftentimes a wide discrepancy in the type and level of training provided to one's sales and business development staff. General sales training that encompasses all of one's products is just that…too general.

The selected vendors for a partnership should develop and make available the customized sales training that will help one's sales and business development staff to better sell their solutions. This includes strategies, value propositions, pricing, and also topics such as R.O.I., and competitive intelligence information. Such training programs are developed in a variety of formats including traditional classroom/conference room settings, training tapes, CD-ROM, and Internet-based eLearning.

We will research and analyze which vendors offer the best training options and which are most conducive to your needs. Then we will take these considerations, along with all other variables to help you decide which vendor is best to partner with.

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Channel Conflict Management and Mitigation Strategies
When a vendor has both a direct channel and an indirect channel, there exists the possibility that channel conflicts may occur from time to time. These conflicts most often result from chance occurrences that the same prospects are called on by both channels for the same business opportunity. Most often these conflicts are revenue and prime-sub services related issues.

These conflicts fray relations between a partner and vendor if not dealt with immediately or prevented from occurring or reoccurring in the future. If the conflicts occur too often or if the severity is too great, they can cause major, and sometimes irreparable damage to the respective partnership. In these instances, no one wins. The primary reason for partnering is to create win-win scenarios in which both the partner and the vendor prosper from the relationship.

The degree and the number of times that these conflicts occur vary from company to company and partnership to partnership.

We, at The Taylor Group will assist you in developing the custom strategies to manage these conflicts when and if they should occur. More importantly, we will help you to develop the strategies to mitigate the likelihood that these conflicts are apt to occur.

The one thing that is certain is that conflict is much more likely to occur if no strategies are in place to prevent it from occurring. Potential damage is greater when any conflict that does occur is not dealt with immediately. We will help you to create long-lasting vendor partnerships that will generate many greater returns by addressing these areas so vital to both parties.

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Other Aspects of The Taylor Group Alliance Consulting Services
We provide various categories and levels of services to maximize the impact of your existing or new vendor alliances. This ranges from assisting you with specific aspects of these alliance programs, as described above, to the management of your complete alliance program and operations on an outsourced basis.

These programs and solutions are also available for select, individual categories including: VARs, SIs, Solution Providers, Business Consulting Companies, OEM, and Technology Partners. We will assist you in developing specific strategies and then implementing those strategies to help you "Sell More of What You Sell".

  • Do any of your vendor partners fall short of your expectations?
  • Are you under pressure from any of your vendor partners to generate ever-increasing amounts of license revenue?
  • Do any of your vendor partners claim not to have any competitors?
  • Do you receive less than the needed support from any of your vendor partners to help you succeed?
  • Is the level of client issues with any or your present vendor partners higher than you would like?
  • Do any of your vendor partners promise more than they deliver?
  • Do you run into channel conflicts with any of your vendor partners' direct sales operations?
  • Have any of your vendor partners tried to change your alliance status through no fault of your own?

If you answered yes to any of these, contact us for more information!


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