It’s not enough for vendors to provide the ingredients for success to their channel partners. You have to help them bake the cake.
That sums up the advice by two channel marketing experts at a recent webinar sponsored by the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council (C4).
“If you think you can give a channel partner a brochure, a PowerPoint deck and some sales training and expect them to be successful, think again” said Jim Barnet, Director of Sales and Marketing at Fivel. “You’re not only going to have to provide the ingredients and bake the cake for them, you’re going to have to cut it up and feed it to them for the first few deals.”
Whenever the process becomes difficult, busy channel partners will go back to what they know with their existing vendor product lines, said Barnet. Whether a vendor is large or small, one of the best practices in channel marketing is to make it easy for partners to sell your stuff.
What do channel partners need?
“No one is looking for more vendors to deal with,” said Corinne Sharp, President of Sharp Perspective Inc. and C4, a professional association for channel leaders. Channel partners need to know why it is better to work together. The vendor should take the time to understand their partners’ strategic objectives, she said.
From there, Sharp said that vendors should provide the tools and support to ensure that the customer will have a great experience. Portals can be a great resource for everything the partner needs, she added.
“The trick is to make it easy with a kit,” said Barnet. The kit should cover the whole business process, including marketing, sales, deployment and support. It should include content on the value proposition, with material that will also appeal to the customers’ lines of business. “Once you give them this, and they have success, they now see you as the go-to resource,” said Barnet.
When a new partner is brought on board, Barnet said that both parties should walk through a detailed checklist to set clear parameters on “who does what”. Sharp agreed. “It’s like dating. You can’t have one thinking they’re just dating when the other is ready to sign the prenup. You both need to be on the same page,” she said.
The silver bullet to attract resellers
Large vendors can rely on brand awareness to attract resellers, but that job is more difficult for mid-sized companies, said Barnet. He provided tips on how these companies can attract partners without spending a fortune on a branding campaign.
First, Barnet suggested that they should look for speaking opportunities or booths at smaller, regional events. “You can gain greater visibility, at a more affordable price, when you are one in five vendors, not 500.”
Another approach is to get your company listed on online review sites and recruit some customers to submit positive reviews. Many customers search for reviews when researching potential solutions and this is a viable way to build credibility, said Barnet. Certifications from primary vendors are another to boost your reputation.
Ultimately, the silver bullet to bring channel partners on board is to give them leads, said Barnet. “Don’t stop end user development activity but pick a trusted partner to deliver on it. “They will get interested very fast,” said Barnet. “If you want to tip someone over the fence, bring them a lead.”
Do you want to learn more about the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council? Check out the website at www.channelchiefs.ca