You know as well as I do – today’s Partners work with multiple Vendors. They're highly focused on their company’s growth (not yours), wear tons of hats and have very little time, especially when it comes to communications they deem unimportant. Understandable, yes. But for Vendors, this can be frustrating considering the time and effort you've invested in increasing Partner engagement and motivating them to sell your solutions.
Channel Maven Blog
Today’s Channel Partners are more often than not born in the cloud, driving recurring revenue models, and they don’t typically refer to themselves as your “Partner.” In their minds, they are just one of many technology companies leveraging (your) IT solutions to drive success for their customers. It's all part of the shifting Channel.
As The Channel evolves alongside digital transformation, Partners continue to work through their shifts from one-and-done sales models to recurring revenue while working with multiple Vendors. Staying top-of-mind with Channel Partners has always been a challenge for Vendors and as The Channel shifts, the challenge becomes greater and more complicated.
What feels like a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng time ago, Channel Partner recruitment was (so much) easier. Vendors had their pick from a long list of Partners waiting, hoping, and striving to be an extension of their sales team. Not anymore. Today’s Partners are diversifying their services, creating their own solutions, selling outcomes, and working with multiple Vendors all-day - everyday.
I’m not sure if you remember, but in 2014 (or so), Google made a significant statement regarding the evolution of mobile devices. They basically forced everyone to create mobile-friendly websites or risk losing page rank. Of course, as avid smartphone users, we appreciated this move. Our Channel Partners however – not so much. Back then many were just figuring out the do’s and don’ts of web pages and basic SEO. So, the idea of mobile-readiness, was added to the bottom of an already long list. Of course, about a year later, in late 2015, mobile devices officially replaced desktops/laptops as the preferred route to the Internet and mobile-first indexing was born.
Vendors know that sales and marketing alignment drives about 20% more growth and see the win-win in enabling their Partners in this direction. However, if our conversations are any indication, many Channel Partner organizations have adopted a few best practices towards integrated sales and marketing strategy (aka SMarketing), but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
With the virtual event market predicted to reach $4 billion over the next five years, our ability to engage Channel Partners through online events is more powerful than ever. Of course, the time and resources required to successfully plan and execute virtual events do not come without challenges. Working with Vendors daily, the major hurdles we discuss center around delivery tactics and low attendance.
With the event season upon us, I’d like to share a few best practices we employ when working with Vendors to engage Channel Partners via online events:
In a perfect, inbound world where demand is auto generated and leads are lining up at your virtual door, marketing and sales are 100% aligned. However, with a historic “love-hate” relationship between the two, achieving this utopia is no small feat for any sized partner organization especially those working with 5 – 25 Vendors at any given time.
At ChannelCon 2017, I had the pleasure of speaking alongside Larry Walsh, CEO of The 2112 Group on why integrating sales and marketing for inbound demand generation is critical for driving more revenue through The Channel:
While we talk an awful lot about email-type communications being overwhelming and bombarding, we are huge fans of newsletters. They are a great way to aggregate a lot of information and cut down on multiple emails.
They also enable you to relay important information to Channel Partners regarding your solutions, program, resources and other offerings. Unfortunately, they are losing effectiveness as Partners are now working with anywhere from 5 – 25 Vendors which means as many newsletters. In those cases, the volume of incoming information from co-workers, Vendors, customers, prospects, solicitors, and others can be overwhelming. I don’t know about you but I don’t read a newsletter if the rest of my inbox is out of control unless there is something incredibly useful in it.
If you’re content strategy nerds (like us), you might agree, blogging to a Partner audience is fascinating. No, seriously, think about it.