“There’s nothing wrong with the software, so why is no-one interested in it?” Ask the same question to a primary vendor and his channel sales partner and you’re likely to get two very different answers.
Your partner wants to be able to reach out to the right people (i.e. the companies for whom the product is designed) in the right way. But it’s going to be very difficult to do this unless he has access to the right marketing collateral and full support with the campaign.
Research backs up what common sense might suggest is obvious: where channel sales arrangements succeed, there’s a genuine partnership in place in terms of lead nurturing. With this in mind, here are four elements of lead nurturing that should be on your radar, whether you’re a channel partner or a manager…
The funnel: deploy automation in the right way
All the evidence suggests that a system for delivering the right type of content to the right people at the right time results in better quality leads and more conversions. So from a vendor’s perspective, if the channel partner seems to be heavily reliant on automation, this might suggest that he is doing little more than pinging out emails as part of a generic awareness campaign.
The reality is that to run a complex campaign, even when targeting a tightly-defined niche group, automation is essential. In other words, the more personalised the strategy, the more useful automation becomes.
Does the partner have the ability to put into place detailed workflows built around specific marketing goals? Is it possible to deliver targeted messages on landing pages? Can you build a profile for each captured lead to aid with segmentation? The right platform (with HubSpot being a prime example) can go a long way to help ensure the campaign remains on track.
Targeting: ensure you are not just ‘talking to the tech guy’
Businesses do not set out to buy software; they set out to solve specific problems. Whatever that problem happens to be, it’s almost certainly the case that it’s not just the CTO who has an interest in what the solution looks like. Even if your product is all to do with network security for instance, what would putting your product into place mean for the HR department and how it drafts its IT usage policy?
Consider carefully who is going to be involved in the buying decision and the questions they are likely to ask - and be sure to have the material in place to answer those questions.
Useful content: just how useful is it?
This involves finding out what your prospects want to know and delivering that information in the most compelling way possible. Both the vendor and partner have a useful role to play here: for instance, as a vendor, do you already have a bank of case studies that a new partner can use to illustrate the benefits of the product within specific niches? Can you present the partner with raw data that it can go on to compile and present in a way that will help to sway prospects who are still in the research phase?
As a vendor or a partner, do you already enjoy a degree of recognition that the other party within the partnership is yet to build up? Where name recognition for one of you is a challenge, conducting co-branded events (such as a small gathering for executive leads) can be a useful way of enhancing credibility.
Making the sales funnel easier to manage, targeting the right leads, generating useful content, co-branding: each of these involve close collaboration between channel manager and partner. It’s about having a clear vision of who you are targeting and how you’re going to reach those individuals successfully - with each party (vendor and partner) knowing precisely what they need to do to make this happen.