• August 1, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Monitoring the Partners

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When a business needs quality computer monitors at a competitive price, one of the first places to turn is ViewSonic, the Walnut, Calif.-based maker and seller of display technology. While this has led to considerable sales success ($1.59 billion in 2006) and numerous partner reseller agreements, it has also made channel management much more complex. ViewSonic faced significant difficulties managing its extensive partner accounts. Selling entirely through the channel, the company was bogged down in a host of manual processes, including emails and printed letters, handling channel partners, development funds, and product launches. "Our previous package was broken up into different modules that didn't really interact with each other, and they were limited in their total capacity to manage the quantity of accounts we wanted to manage," says Steve Woo, vice president of sales operations, Americas, for ViewSonic. "And it was very inflexible to customize." ViewSonic's previous PRM solution placed a hard limit on the number of partner relationships the company could manage, which obviously was a hindrance to growth. "So we looked for alternate vendors that could provide a seamless, all-in-one package that would be customizable, and that's how we came up with NetSuite," Woo says. NetSuite's PRM capabilities are integrated with ViewSonic's customer resources and its Oracle-based back-end financials. Resellers use the interface to view and manage account-development funds and rebates, and to keep current on ViewSonic product changes and training opportunities. "We provide a unique look and feel for each partner's microsite, and NetSuite has the capability to handle the volume we deal with," Woo says. ViewSonic's resellers and channel partners gained constant access to the company's extensive database of customer and product information through its Access partnership program. Woo says the new capabilities ensure that resellers not only have greater visibility, but also can receive marketing funds more quickly. "Access helps us service roughly 12,000 different resellers and allow them to look at all of their information and transactions with us on a 24/7 basis." Partners and ViewSonic reps alike have seen significant improvements in the way they do business. "NetSuite has given everyone great ease-of-access. It provides us with more-accurate forecasting, so we can budget for our channel expenses and investments better," Woo says. "And we can do more--before, we couldn't provide some of our programs, like a growth incentive rebate, because there was no way for us to easily communicate to our broad community, and no way to get easy reporting." Better understanding of partner activities equates to a better handle on business requirements for ViewSonic as well. "Our ability to forecast has improved at least 70 percent, and on the supply side we are less out of stock and less overstocked than before," Woo boasts. NetSuite's PRM has given ViewSonic a happier, more productive, and larger group of market advocates and partners. "Because of our move to NetSuite and the enhancements we have been able to make to our Access program, we have increased our reseller participation by 50 percent," Woo says. The Payoff Since switching its PRM to NetSuite, ViewSonic has achieved:
  • 50 percent gain in total resellers;
  • 70 percent improvement in forecasting ability;
  • self-service for channel partners in many relationship tasks; and
  • better communication with resellers.
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