This post by Demand Gen Report highlights the challenges channel partners face with adapting their sales and marketing processes to the new buyer journey.
Big name vendors have enough of a challenge on their hands embracing the inbound marketing approach which requires a huge shift from more traditional outbound techniques. So for channel partners, who often lack the budget and resources, this shift is even more significant.
I've compiled some top tips to explain how vendors can help partners adopt and embrace digital selling:
Top Tips for Vendors Helping Channel Partners With Digital Selling
Align MDF Guidelines
Support a more long-term inbound marketing approach by updating MDF guidelines. Random spend of MDF budget spend on outbound lead generation activities simply don't match the new buyer journey. Leads might be generated but do they actually lead to revenue?
Connect Sales and Marketing Through Metrics
Lorraine Maurice from SAP wrote a great blog about how marketing and sales need to work together on creating relationships with customers that are based on attracting inbound business.
Support Investment in Sales & Marketing Automation
Enabling partners to track their activities demonstrates which activities actually grow revenue. Integrated tools such as HubSpot allow visibility into tracking all activity, customer touchpoints and connecting them to eventual sales.
Thought Leadership Blogging
Demonstrate the value of blogging & establishing thought leaders in relevant key industry areas. No-one is expecting all sales reps to be able to find the time or have the relevant skills to write blogs, but they do have the direct contact with customers and know which issues/ pain points resonate and how to help. Support them with the resources to facilitate turning these key insights into blogs!
SEO/ Website/ Digital Marketing audits
Support partners with their keyword strategy. They might be producing great content but without relevant optimisation their efforts could be going to waste.
Demonstrate the power of enabling employees to share valuable content via their own profiles. Support partners with tips for employee advocacy training and sharing platforms. Vendors can also support their partners by resharing their content via their own corporate employee advocacy platform ....and vice versa. Analysis of LinkedIn network activity backs this up - the CTR on a piece of content is 2x higher (Social Media Today) when shared by an employee versus when shared by the company itself.
Social Selling Training
Provide adequate resources & funding for partner's social selling enablement. There's no argument that it's a longer term approach to achieving ROI but the fact remains that it works.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator Training
Many sales reps have vendor funded licences, but do channel partners sales reps know how to use these optimally?
Targeted Point Drive campaigns
We've seen first-hand how effective these campaigns can be. Help the sales reps to create personalised PointDrive campaigns with relevant, quality content with their specific customers in mind. ABM has always been around, but the vast array of technology solutions available mean that we can now practice a one-to-few rather than just a one-to-one account based marketing approach. Technology allows us to achieve better value with ABM ...by delivering at scale.
Social Media Account Optimisation
It takes time and effort to fine-tune social media profiles but we know how effective and optimised Twitter & LinkedIn profiles can be to drive a social selling approach. Stats show that sales reps using social media as part of their sales technique outsell 78% of their peers, invaluable research for demonstrating the value of social media for sales people (not just marketing).
It's clear that transitioning to an inbound marketing approach is not an overnight transition for either large scale vendors or their channel partners. Success will depend on commitment and understanding from both parties that this is a long-term approach which will deliver ultimately deliver the required ROI.
Harbinder Khera, CEO of Mindmatrix, addressed one of the key barriers that keep vendors from being more partner-centric. Khera commented that misalignment of corporate marketing programs with partner-supporting initiatives wastes resources and leads to low levels of partner engagement. Dana Harder, VP of Strategy at Content4Demand, specifically addressed how corporate marketing teams can generate more value from the content they create by repurposing it for channel partner distribution. During her presentation, Tailoring New Content Models Specifically For The Channel, Harder shared research data, best practices models and use case data on how the latest trends in content marketing can be applied to channel marketing programs. “When you overlay content preferences that we know buyers want and are craving with channel marketing goals, you’re going to end up with a much stronger strategy.”