TDS Blog

Faster Quotes, Happier Channel, Satisfied Customers

Superior, Agile and Intuitive Partner Portal Makes for a Happier Channel Community and therefore Satisfied Customers

Marcella P. Arthur, Worldwide Vice President, Marketing & Channel Operations

Customers appreciate simplicity. They expect affordability and efficiency when dealing with their partners. Unfortunately, too often, it has been a difficult commodity for them to receive. With over two decades as a global channel strategist, the one principle I have always bolstered my partner programs with has been strong sales enablement. Our channel partners need tools that enable them to be effective, efficient and responsive to their prospects. Timely information, particularly about the cost of a migration, project or the solution set they will be dependent on, can make or break a deal. In July, our partner program went live and this January, the most advanced deal registration and on-demand price tool will be launched.

When I first took on the project of building out an intuitive pricing tool to be embedded into Salesforce Partner Portal, I set the goal to simplify quoting even the most complex Archive Migration. The workflow of it alone seemed like an unachievable and costly leap from the traditional price books that most of our competitors use.

We have been a legacy data company for a long time, building technologies that support roughly 60 percent more sources and destinations than any one of our competitors. How do you account for all these sources and destinations, data types and volume in a single uniform application capable of outputting a process for registering the deal, getting deal approval, and in the end, building a competitive and immediate quote? Yikes, could we really achieve this and embed the other supporting factors necessary in a portal?

Like the line from that famous Kevin Costner film… If you build it, they will come. The team and I knew that we had to elevate the partner experience if we were really going to shift new partners from competitors.

We took the project and its creation to a highly recommended outsourced Salesforce developer, walked through the complex workflow and goals and within a week they came back with the frightening cost estimate to make our dream price book happen in time for the new year! All of this was now becoming a reality in direct response to our goal to not just recruit but exceed the expectations of our growing channel community.

For years, a traditional service channel partner would take a license out for a platform that a customer wanted to move to, and then make sure that—from an integration perspective—everything was thought out and planned in the best possible way to get the most bang for the buck. When it came time to present the sale of the license, the customer would be satisfied, thinking that the business was getting a great total price. However, too often, the actual implementation had to be performed by a different company because the initial partner either didn’t have the migration services capability, lacked the much needed legacy data expertise, or even more often, had no ability to competitively bid without having to first conduct a complete scope of work to ensure the entire project didn’t cost them more to sell than to carry out.  

With so many customers today having to consider the entire cost of the migration vs. just the cost of purchasing licenses for the destination platform, partners have to decide, “Do I risk introducing a services partner to the deal, potentially losing it to them because they also can sell the license or do we make the decision to provide services?" The profits seemed enticing, but when they tried to enter the services space, these partners realized they were getting in over their heads. First of all, legacy data is complex data, every migration is different, and most are arduous on a good day. Not having the expertise or technology necessary to accurately migrating data then becomes a critical issue, making for the unfortunate scenario where the partner underestimated the migration, oversold their capabilities and now had to backtrack to the customers. The solution: Go back to the service providers and have them go in and finish the job — but as a representative of the licensing partner.

While that was a positive move for the customer who now got an expert integrator to finish the project, it became a bit of a competitive scenario, because now the services providers were looking at the licensing vendors and wondering if they could make more money by selling the licenses themselves. The tables had turned.

Both sides – services and licensing – are critical to Trusted Data and we continue to see tremendous potential in those relationships. We have always been focused on the data and the clients first and foremost. We follow our partners’ lead regarding the role they want us to take in getting their customers data from one place to another. That was our only go-to-market for three decades. That's all we cared about. So, it was logical that in time we expanded from delivering services to providing a highly respected and licensable tool. Today we are able to approach the entire partner community and say, “We know sources and destinations inside out. You don't have to support every source and destination on the planet. Lean on us and we will ‘wear your hat.’ We have a solution for you.”

License vendors are also vital, and this same approach applies to them: There’s no need to build an entire services force to try and perform these deployments, or to create the infrastructure necessary to support these migrations. That was really the start of our TrustedPartner Program. Combining flexibility with our technology and expertise is a winning combination.

In addition to technical expertise, a partner program must be robust. We want to build a partner portal that will enable our service and licensing partners to quote immediately using our price book tool. Simply select the source, the destination and the number of terabytes, a quote will be generated and delivered in their hands within hours, if not immediately.

While most companies home-grow their partner portals, we recognized that many companies in the industry are already using Salesforce. We therefore implemented a Salesforce partner portal and took it to the next level. Not only can the partners access our knowledge base and conduct any type of support ticketing on the portal, the one-of-a-kind price book tool embedded within the system is dynamic with the partner’s predefined margins, so that once the source, destination and terabytes are entered, they will receive the accurate price quote — and the deal is registered automatically.

Understanding that our partner community comes from all around the world, creating a truly automated deal registration for partners also means being able to support multiple currencies. Our further investment in the leading exchange rate API helps partners exceed their customers’ expectations by providing fast, accurate quotes in their demanded currency on the fly.

Archive migration can be time consuming because often there are multiple conversations before you can get an accurate quote to a customer. Especially in this day and age when speed is expected in everything, this price book solution is so intelligent that partners and customers are getting their quote almost instantly. The process can save partners one to two weeks in time, meaning they can start the archiving process much sooner. And that is how we fulfill our commitment, helping our channel partners exceed – not just meet – customer expectations.


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