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Sales And Marketing Alignment Proving To Be A Tall Challenge For Channel Organizations And Partners

Sales and marketing alignment has been an ongoing struggle for B2B organizations. With the hope of creating better collaboration and shared intelligence between Sales and Marketing teams, many organizations have deployed new tools and tactics to build a shared approach to revenue generation.

Alignment has proven even more complex for organizations that operate in the channel, however, as they struggle with a greater level of complexity and reporting across an extensive reseller network.

In fact, the process becomes more complicated largely because reporting from resellers and partners is less efficient and consistent versus insights derived from in-house sales forces, according to Dan McDade, CEO of PointClear.

“Companies that have solved this problem have done so by communicating about what information is important and why,” McDade told Channel Marketer Report. “They also have developed processes that work for everyone involved.  Ten years ago it was almost impossible to link a deal back to an individual company when the goods might have shipped through a distributor and reseller. Today more transparency is possible due to systems organizations put in place.”

Benchmark research has consistently reaffirmed that organizations across the channel think of sales and marketing processes in a disjointed way, only focusing on their own internal opportunities and obligations, sometimes leading to channel conflict.

Research from Aberdeen Group’s The Extended Sales Enterprise: Channeling Better Results, indicated that 31% of organizations find reseller overlap or channel conflict hurts their ability to grow revenue. To achieve sales and marketing alignment, however, vendors and their partners must take a more unified, global approach.

“Typically, organizations think marketing and the partner organization have the responsibility to support the channel in achieving its sales objectives while in-house sales teams focus on closing their own deals,” Bruce Culbert, Chief Service Officer for The Pedowitz Group, explained to Channel Marketer Report.

But with the increasing transparency and buyer empowerment that comes with social media, search and other web-based tools, it is imperative that everyone is on the same page, Culbert added. “That means sales, marketing and support working together to support a partner channel that can provide the company with the best ROI and Reach for their marketing and sales dollars.”

Best Practices For Sales And Marketing Optimization

Resellers and distributors allow vendors and manufacturers to better connect with customers and prospects on a more local level, further optimizing the effectiveness of sales and marketing initiatives.

However, organizations must follow a set of best practices to ensure that sales and marketing teams across the channel are aligned and communication effectively. Culbert offered a selection of best practices, including:

  • Clear territories, sales and service goals are established between the company’s sales team and the channel;
  • Establish a set of qualities that defines a qualified buyer, lead or prospect;
  • Develop concise customer and prospect rules of engagement between the company’s sales team and the channel and compliance is tracked and reported;
  • Make sure Service Level Agreements are in place with clear measurements and reporting on what a partner is responsible to do once they receive a lead;
  • The vendor has an ROI process and model for measuring and reporting on marketing spend for things like programs, campaigns, events, and leads, which is clearly shared with partners; and
  • Vendors’ in-house support and service organization has insight into channel customers and works collaboratively on support and renewal efforts

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP) and Customer/Partner Relationship Management (CRM/PRM) systems with channel plug-ins and features such as lead distribution and MDF/co-op fund management allow more efficient reporting on sales and marketing progress to take place. As a result, vendors and their partner networks will be able to keep tabs on marketing campaigns, sales progress and deal registration, among other vital areas of a successful channel.

Kaspersky Lab And Partners Collaborate To Amplify Growth

For some organizations, such as Kaspersky Lab, sales and marketing alignment is ingrained in business processes, and evolves from the ground up. Since the its inception in 2005, Kaspersky’s North American branch has developed dedicated teams for both consumer and corporate marketing tactics.

To boost marketing capabilities and overall success throughout its channel, Kaspersky offers a variety of sales and technical tools. For example the company offers everything from campaign templates and content, to live training in-office and in the field, video- and web-based training, as well materials and assets throughout the sales journey, according to Steve Orenberg, President of Kaspersky Lab North America.

Keeping partner satisfaction and participation at its peak, Kaspersky also focuses on collecting feedback from resellers. “We try to work together with our partners to create innovative, out-of-the-box marketing programs and initiatives,” Orenberg noted. “We look at revenue growth across our partner network and individually for each partner firm, analyze sales volume and activity levels, and pay attention to an important goal of most partners: new accounts.”

Kaspersky partners, such as Productive Corporation, are reaping the benefits of this uniform approach for sales and marketing. In fact, the company has “formed a very cohesive relationship with Kaspersky on many levels,” according to Peter Greco their VP of Sales and Technology for Productive Corporation.

“Our marketing teams have worked together to come up with very creative campaigns that deliver messages helping customers to understand what pain points are solved and to drive more interest,” Greco said. “As far as sales, our model is to create true leverage by running independently; Kaspersky is really a leader in enablement and sales resources and has helped us achieve our goals more rapidly than what we expected.  Their enablement programs and road map continue to impress me.”

 Marketing Automation And Partner Relationship Management Present New Opportunity For The Channel

As organizations continue to grow, and partner networks become more intricate, featuring VARs, distributors and even ISVs, it is a daunting challenge to manually qualify, nurture and distribute leads without technology in place. Once sales and marketing standards are in place — and fully adopted across the channel — a deep integration of marketing automation and CRM technology can take place, according to Flynn.

“To facilitate success, organizations can utilize best practices, such as tagging leads to the correct campaign in the CRM system to facilitate ROI,” Flynn said. “Companies also can give sales executives relevant behavioral and lead qualification data to facilitate better communication with buyers, as well as allow sales to intelligently launch nurturing campaigns directly from lead records in their CRM system.”

Regardless of processes utilized, successful alignment features quantifiable results, including ROI data, link clicks and cost-per-lead, Flynn explained.

“Effective sales and marketing alignment also provides a feedback loop between sales and marketing to facilitate improving and updating the process — taking what was successful and building upon it,” Flynn said. “In a very real sense, efficiency and success here means breaking out of silos both in terms of isolated departmental processes and technology.”

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About Alicia Fiorletta

Alicia Fiorletta is Senior Editor for Channel Marketer Report. Working closely with industry analysts and experts, Alicia reports on the latest news, technologies, case studies and trends coming to forefront in the channel marketing world. With a focus on emerging marketing strategies, including social, mobile and content for demand, Alicia hones in on new ways for organizations to market to and through their partner networks. Through her work with G3 Communications, Alicia also acts as Associate Editor for Retail TouchPoints, a digital publishing network focused on the customer-facing area of the retail industry.

View all posts by Alicia Fiorletta →

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