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Recent research on disruptive trends in channel marketing has been heavily focused on partner enablement becoming an imperative strategy. Research from SocialRep and Channel Marketer forecasted 2015 trends of the shift in recruitment efforts. Instead of relying on a network of partners, we are seeing more targeted tactics to attract and involve the right partners.
How are you attracting the right partners?
Let’s first take a look at how you are enabling your partners to generate demand for your products and associated services. Training? Financial incentives? Opportunity management tools? These are all proven, effective methods for partner enablement and in the past providing these services has lead partners to vendors.  However now the power has shifted in place of the partners, with vendors having to apply a more targeted approach to draw the partners in. This is due to how you gauge who the right partners are to grow your business.  
As sales cycles prolong and further disruptions occur in the industry, channel managers can no longer rely on revenue to determine the best partners. Consequently this uncertainty, combined with enhanced focus on partners who appear to be positioned for success, will result in demand for the right partners exceeding supply.
So, what will partners be looking for?
Thanks to cloud-based services, the channel has advanced into a self-service world, allowing them to select vendors, further contributing to partner power. In response we have witnessed the adaptation of partner portals. But the one’s that will attract the right partners are the ones that offer customization and support, rather than your standard ‘campaign-in-a-box’.
The right partners will be the most demanding. Have a think about your offering and how it will empower your partner, whether this is social syndication through a partner portal or a marketing automation platform, then think about accessibility – for example, is your partner portal mobile ready?
Investment in tools, customization, integration and delivery to your partners are key areas you should be reviewing as a channel marketer. Whilst planning activities around these areas can be challenging, getting your own channel manager on board can be more challenging.
What if your channel manager isn’t supportive of your initiatives? Here are some tips to help you win them over:

  1. A simple incentive goes a long way. This could be financial through a voucher or inducement through a bit of healthy competition –give visibility on the rankings of the channel managers – no one wants to be a loser!
  2. Align your program to your manager’s compensation plan – make it clear how your program will help them reach their numbers.
  3. Make it easy for them – investing time in a plan that clearly indicates steps and allocated timeframes will make involvement predictable and easy.
  4. Results, result, results! – Targets, forecasts and actual. Ensure your channel managers have regular updates on these to demonstrate success and impact.

So, as a channel marketer start asking yourself: are you attracting the right partners? How are you attracting the right partners? What’s stopping you? This should give you a good starting point in adapting to the emerging trends of the channel landscape. Good luck!
 
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