Guest Column | December 4, 2019

How To Design A Partner-Friendly User Conference

By Wayne Monk, ASG Technologies

Which Clinical Conferences Are Worth Your Time?

As discussed in my last post, there are several reasons for channel partners to attend a vendor user conference—despite these events being catered (often exclusively) to the customer’s experience. Partners can benefit from user conferences in the same way that customers do, from product education and sales strategy to relationship building. That is, if vendors actively design the event to serve their partner attendees as well.

ASG recently hosted its own user conference, EVOLVE19. Not only did we invite our partners—in addition to customers, industry analysts and media influencers—but we put them front and center at the event. ASG’s partners are pivotal and central players in our business. As such, it only makes sense for them to be at our side for major product announcements and to have ample touchpoints with our customers. That said, it is equally important to not just welcome partners, but to ensure the conference is worthwhile for them.

To make sure your next user conference maximizes your partners’ presence and delivers mutual value, follow these steps.

  1. Make Time To Meet With Partners And Showcase Their Products

As industry experts, channel partners don’t require handholding to navigate keynotes, sessions and demos at a vendor’s user conference. That said, it would be a missed opportunity to let partners passively partake instead of actively engaging them. Partners offer a wealth of insight into the marketplace given they interact with several products and businesses beyond a vendor’s network. Vendors should set up meetings to gain partners’ input as they consider their own product enhancements or solutions to bring to market.

At EVOLVE19, ASG dedicated a full afternoon to meeting with our Partner Advisory Council, consisting of 12 executives from our partner organizations. The Partner Advisory Council directly influences ASG’s strategic product direction and investments, and ensures all partners are armed with the best tools to market, sell and support ASG’s solutions as they address their own customers’ business challenges.

In addition to executive meetings, a major draw for channel partners to attend user conferences is in-person networking with customers and prospects. To ensure ASG partners had this opportunity, ASG set up a Demo Zone for all three days of the conference. Nine partners participated, getting to showcase their products to all conference attendees.

  1. Get Partners On Stage

If a vendor has top-notch partners like ASG does, why not show them—and their expertise—off? Channel partners both reflect and extend a vendor’s knowledge of the market, and user conferences provide an opportunity to demonstrate that proficiency to customers.

Paul Muller, cofounder of Denting the Universe and EVOLVE19 MC, hosted a partner panel during one general session, including leaders from Accenture, Zia Consulting, Primitive Logic and Ephesoft. The panelists shared their takes on industry trends, such as AI and RPA, and discussed how leaders must lay the foundation for digital transformation—from business analytics projects to data governance initiatives. They also offered their individual formulas for business success.

User conferences are an ideal occasion to recognize partners for their contributions and to strengthen existing relationships. At EVOLVE19, ASG presented Zia Consulting with the Excellence Award for Partner of the Year—which it earned for successes on multiple joint customer engagement, collaboration with ASG’s product teams and a deep understanding of customer issues and complete solution selling.

  1. Give Partners A Front Row Seat To Announcements

User conferences should remind channel partners why they are excited to work with a vendor. It is also an effective way for partners to get updates on the vendor’s latest products, so they can inform customers about how these developments will meet their business needs. Vendors should make announcements across each partner’s area of focus, so there is relevant news for every attending partner’s business.

ASG made three announcements at EVOLVE19, each of which are exciting and impactful for our customers and partners. Partner-vendor alignment is critical for success, which is why it’s so valuable to have partners present for major product announcements that will impact their own sales and product strategies. When it comes to the product roadmap, vendors should put partners in the passenger seat.

A successful user conference should be designed to benefit all participants—both customers and partners. By ensuring that partners’ specific interests and needs are met, vendors can grow and sustain these essential relationships, enabling all parties to better develop and deliver the products customers need. The more that customers, partners and vendors are aligned, the more that collaboration will occur, innovation will ensue and that business will power forward.

About The Author

Wayne Monk is Senior Vice President, Global Alliances and Channel Sales at ASG Technologies and is responsible for establishing strategic partnerships, indirect channels and other key routes to market. Wayne has 30 years of enterprise solution sales, marketing and channel management experience with high growth technology companies. Wayne has held many sales and channel management positions with Seamless Technologies (acquired by Avnet), HP Software, Mercury Interactive, CA, MainControl (acquired by MRO and then IBM), and NCR Corporation.