By Ed Thompson, Director of Demand Generation, The Pedowitz Group
Talk to any vendor/OEM that depends upon driving revenue from a partner ecosystem and they’ll likely mention the 80/20 Rule: 80% of our channel revenue comes from 20% of our partners. When you look at it from the reseller’s perspective, 80% are struggling to be successful representing that vendor in the marketplace. Why?
The American Marketing Association reports that 90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales and that salespeople spend 30 hours a month searching for and creating their own marketing materials.
Conscientious marketers recognize if they can produce more usable content, ultimately their salespeople and channel partners will be more successful selling, but they can’t do it alone. IT solution providers need to get involved in the process in a productive and meaningful way. Here are three steps to bridge the content gap:
1. Align Communication Goals and Expectations.
• Vendor goal: Stay “top of mind” with resellers • Reseller expectation: Receive tools that help market and sell
Your vendor thinks the reason you’re not productive is because you don’t remember to sell their products. As a result, they focus a lot of their energy on monthly newsletters, collateral, quarterly webinars about messaging, and corporate slide decks. There’s nothing to help you sell or create demand for your business; no wonder you don’t use 90% of it!
Vendors need to identify and map the reseller lifecycle that’s best for their businesses. It may go something like this: Recruiting, Onboarding, Education and then Actively Selling. At each stage, content and communication needs are different. Suggest this tactic and offer to participate in the process to verify their assumptions. When you do, there will naturally be gaps where content is needed and you can suggest what you believe will be effective.
A stage can even be included to categorize those individual reps or partner organizations that are “Inactive.” That could initiate a series of “top-of-mind” communications and corrective actions.
Creating such a model benefits the vendor because they can build consistency, and eventually automate some of these processes. You should know they are understaffed, underfunded and your channel marketing team is at the mercy of the corporate marketing team. Any gain in productivity means more time to build what you really need, and this process provides the framework for doing so.
2. Create Content That Generates Demand.
The biggest challenge in prospecting is creating the “ah-ha moment.” That instant where the prospect recognizes there is a new or less expensive way to do what they do now. Marketers call this type of content “thought leadership.”
The bulk of what you get from a vendor is the [insert your logo here] collateral, corporate slide deck, or advertorial cleverly disguised as a whitepaper. These don’t create the “ah-ha,” but they do have their place later in the sales process.
Ask for materials that help you build the business case and establish value for the solution, not information about the specific solution or vendor. You need tools to tell the story, not a pre-packaged product pitch.
You may still want the collateral or corporate slide deck, but you need components, pieces of the story. Ask for the charts, graphs, and customer stories as stand-alone items you can re-use. Try asking for brief content you can “more easily share in social media.” Marketers LOVE to spread “good news” virally.
3. Ensure Content Is Accessible.
Vendors build portals, microsites, partner hubs, extranets, or whatever else you want to call them. Albeit well meaning, those resource centers require you to go out of your way to find relevant information. If a salesperson spends 30 hours a month searching for and creating content, what about the reseller who represents a dozen different products?
Investigate whether partner portals can be integrated into your sales intranet, CRM system, or other tools you use each day. If your vendor’s portal is separate from how you enter orders, ask your vendor to integrate them so you have a single point of access.
Clearly most of the responsibility for creating and distributing relevant content lies in the hands of the vendor, but you, as an IT solution provider, have a sales productivity stake in getting what you need, when you need it, and in a form your sales team will use.
Ed Thompson is Director of Demand Generation for The Pedowitz Group (TPG), a demand generation company focused marketing and sales solutions that drive topline revenue. TPG helps clients become successful Revenue Marketers® please visit www.pedowitzgroup.com.
Contact Ed via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @edthewebguy.