The following information was sourced from Ansira’s The Channel Effect virtual event. For more session thought leadership, check out TheChannelEffect.com.
All too often, legacy partner programs are designed to promote a single service or product. Attracting customers with sales, promotions, and direct marketing is important, but a customer’s journey does not stop at the point of sale. To secure consistent and meaningful revenue from partners driving distributed sales, it is imperative that program constructs are not just centered around making sales but creating a customer community. Businesses that structure their leadership strategy and operations around customer obsession are not only more successful in the present-day market, but also excel at retaining their customers and attracting future clients. To build this community, it is best to look to partners and resellers for insights on how to evolve programs.
Partners are additive and help propel go-to-market opportunities farther and faster. Partners and resellers have a deep and strong relationship with the end customer and understand their needs and how those needs shift over time. They have established buyer credibility, often where direct sellers do not. They also often bring co-innovation or implementation services that drive additional value and IP that would not exist without their work. These distributed ecosystems are a company’s greatest asset – understanding their sales motion, what motivates them, and how to find further benefits from the partnership will set both the enterprise and partner up for the most success.
When working with partners in a distributed ecosystem, there are nuances between transacting and non-transacting partners, whether it is between small to mid-size partners or between top partners and new partners who have just joined your ecosystem.
Let partners know exactly what kind of voice the brand is trying to convey, where the partners fit into this strategy, and allow the partners to give direct feedback. Partners who contribute to brand messaging are known to generate greater growth because they have first-hand experiences that help shape the brand’s voice to fit their customer’s needs.
The only way to future proof a channel program is to give your partners an open line of communication. Listening to partners in a more conversational forum is a terrific way to make sure current marketing endeavors fit with the partners’ needs. When creating a marketing strategy, always ask, “does this help the partners?” Seek ways to really know if funding programs are meeting the needs of the partner. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of the partner channel.
Co-Create Marketing Plans
Partners want to be a part of the go-to-market strategy development, not simply on the receiving end of assets and materials that are pushed out broadly. They are the ones representing the company’s products and solutions, and they want to hear their own voice in the messaging. This is the same voice partners use daily to make sales. It is far easier to present solutions and upsell if representatives see themselves in the marketing vision.
Show the Math
Gauging success is extremely difficult to do if you have not solidified shared goals or what outcomes are desired. To achieve better results, sharing concrete expectations with partners is necessary. Setting growth targets, success check points, and being transparent about why these goals need to be met will create less confusion and lead to more productivity. Once these initial goals are set, the scope can always be expanded or consolidated. Partners will take pride in reaching goals and showing how their outcomes contributed to the overall growth and revenue will further motivate and enable future co-commitments.
Build for Partner Success
Subscription and consumption models, along with an expanded distributed ecosystem of transacting and non-transacting partners, means you must build programs that enable partners to succeed. Point-of-sale is no longer the end point of the customer journey nor the sales cycle. A customer’s lifetime value is now what future proofs a program, and it is in the hands of the partner. Clear program communication, and personal engagement where possible, will better empower the partner and equip them to meet the needs of the customer.
Reward and Incentives
Creating incentive management modules that are based on rewarding specific behavioral changes can dramatically increase a partner’s ability to cultivate a customer community. Based on partner involvement, rebates for additional MDFs can be made available. Often, a form of gamification is the most popular way to excite partners and encourage participation in these incentive programs. Partners can earn bonus points by completing specific tasks or reaching certain goals within an allotted amount of time and trade in these points for chances to win rewards.
Check out more info on how to work with partners to generate a better Channel marketing strategy.