On Tuesday, host nation Brazil suffered the worst drubbing in 94 years in the highest scoring World Cup semi-final. Without their talisman Neymar and of course their captain Thiago Silva, the Brazilians seemed to lack focus and strategy. Meanwhile with classic German efficiency, opportunities for goals were easily converted, records were made, and Brazilian hearts were broken. While the pain from the defeat is still fresh, how do we learn from this debacle to ensure our channel partners are inundated with plenty of scoring opportunities?
In the post-recessionary world the partner universe has become more competitive as you compete for mindshare with fewer partners who are engaged with more vendors; power has shifted in favor of channels and buyers. So how do you go beyond MDF (or Market Development Funds) and spiffs to differentiate your partner program from those of competitors and keep your partners loyal and happy?
Give Them the Ball - Feed Your Partners With Leads
To score a goal, you need to have the ball. Sounds obvious! Same is true for your channel, if you want them to be successful then you are going to have to give them good leads. Great channel partners come with a rich database of contacts and technical expertise but these partners are few and far between; most will depend on you for leads. Say you have 3,000 channel partners; manually farming out leads to all of them poses a formidable challenge. Well thought out marketing campaigns combined with a marketing automation platform gives you the ability to route the leads you pick up on and also the technology that allows partners to easily execute campaigns on their own. With a robust website visitor tracking feature you and your partners can attract, recognize, and connect with anonymous corporate traffic. This way, your partners work on warm leads that have expressed some amount of interest, instead of cold calling, thereby significantly shrinking the sales cycle.
Forwards Need Set Pieces; Partners Need Content
Even top class attacking forwards need set pieces which they can easily convert into goals. Likewise, your channel partners may be great at relationship building, but they may need some help to convert leads; marketing is not their core strength. Many of them operate with little to no marketing resources. Create content, emails, and automated drip campaigns that they can run with. They should just have to put in their contacts and launch programs. This ensures a uniform marketing message and allows you to track and measure the use of all content and campaigns. See which partners use what content, which campaigns are most popular, and how many leads each one yields.
Coaching Entails Monitoring Progress
Good coaches like Luiz Felipe Scolari monitor progress and claim responsibility even after humiliating defeats. Similarly you can’t send leads to partners and never check back on them. Don’t send leads into a black hole; check on their progress periodically. Work out a closed loop feedback mechanism whereby you know which leads are closed. In the long run channel partners have to deliver positive financial results for the partnership to be sustainable. Monitoring and coordinating channels partners may be a difficult task, but ensuring they go hand in hand with your other marketing activities can be highly impactful and is critical to ensure sales and marketing efficiency.
Don’t let your partners run like the severely disadvantaged Brazilian team, fuelled by little but passion and cheering crowds; give them the tools and technologies they need to be successful.