A key hurdle for vendors striving to better enable partners to improve sales and marketing efforts is determining where to spend resources and which partners to target first, according to Heather K. Margolis, President of Channel Maven Consulting.
“The more strategic organizations are in determining which partners to target and where to spend resources, the more effective their training plan will be,” Margolis said in an interview with Channel Marketer Report. “We typically recommend vendors target the partners just below the top-selling threshold. That upper-middle level is where you likely will get the most bang-for-your-buck when it comes to allocating your MDF.”
Once vendors pinpoint their partner “sweet spot,” they can focus on understanding the wants and needs of these organizations, and most importantly, assess where they’re lacking from a sales and marketing perspective.
“Vendors can determine partner pain points by conducting a survey of the target group to determine their level of knowledge of marketing and sales tactics, as well as their infrastructure, such as their web site, social media presence, and client engagement.”
Margolis added: “Our experience has taught us that partners are not effectively taking advantage of their online network. Training on basic online marketing best practices using a webinar or even better a live event at your partner summit is a great way to start to teach your partners. Ideally, you will then be able to support your partners’ efforts over the first few months. An alternative, however, is to provide your partners with marketing and sales training over an extended period of time.”
Along with interactive training webinars and live events, Margolis and the rest of the Channel Maven team are acknowledging a gradual shift to digital mediums, including virtual events, PDF resources/materials, videoconferencing and videos.
“All trainings have their place, however, it’s important that if you are doing a live or virtual one-time training event, you follow it up with supplemental videos, emails, or other support documents,” Margolis said. “Partners are eager to improve their sales and marketing at trainings, but can lose steam once they are back in the grind. Supplemental offerings help partners keep that momentum going.”
Hard data showcasing success also can help drive partner participation and enthusiasm. Vendors can install Google Analytics on partners’ web sites, record Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections and Facebook “Likes,” as well as sales prior to the engagement, Margolis explained. “As partners see their web site traffic and prospect engagement rise,” she said, “they will be more likely to stick to the training you have recommended.”