To compel partners to participate more in channel marketing programs, asking them to do less might be the right way to go. That’s just part of the successful strategy behind the CRN-rated Five-Star Partner Program offered by Pulse Secure, a leading provider of secure access solutions.
During a recent conversation with CMR, Pulse Secure’s chief marketing officer Scott Gordon, explained his less-is-more approach to channel marketing.
Scott Gordon – One of the lessons we’ve learned is that it’s better to do a handful of things and have really good end-to-end feedback rather than asking partners to support many different activities. Channel partners are already inundated with requests from vendors trying to get their attention and ask for help to get programs off the ground.
CMR – What are you doing to take the pressure off your partners and still achieve the results necessary to grow your business?
Scott Gordon – We’re concentrating our efforts on fewer campaigns making sure that we cover all of the bases necessary for them to succeed. We’re doing a much better job communicating these campaigns to our partners and making sure they have more time to digest them and take advantage of them.
Earlier this year we launched a very large sales kick-off campaign and invited our channel partners to participate. We then conducted a survey to determine how many took advantage of the campaign and if the campaign generated adequate results. Equally important, we asked for feedback on how well our communications were received and other comments to get the insight needed to refine future programs.
CMR – Improving communication with partners appears to be high on your to-do list.
Scott Gordon – Yes, we’re working hard to ensure that our channel partners are aware of the programs, benefits and services we offer. Can they take advantage of our regional sales and technical training or lead gen campaigns? How do we facilitate co-funded marketing activities that allow Pulse Secure to work with channel partners to directly engage customers? It’s vital that our channel partners understand how we facilitate them to take advantage of the resources that affect their business.
CMR – Are partners becoming more eager to take advantage of the marketing support you provide?
Scott Gordon — It depends on the partner. A big factor is how effective we are at building up relationships in the field and then based on generating new revenue opportunities, how we apply resources and possible funds to supplement the sales and marketing activities that they’re doing.
Some partners have their own marketing teams. Some of the smaller partners and vertical resellers have a more modest degree of marketing, but they really don’t have a lot of infrastructure. We need to adapt to the partners capabilities.
That’s where our channel and field marketing team can supplement the partner’s marketing activities – depending on the potential upside or desired initiative. For example, a partner may want to do two or three events in a geographic region but doesn’t have the resources to put it together. We can offer a campaign in a box and work with a partner’s staff – that may not include a dedicated marketing person — to put together turn-key programs.
CMR – Are you noticing any trends in the kind of campaigns partners are requesting?
Scott Gordon – One significant change is for content to be developed around IT security business issues, not necessarily products, that their sales team can share or be delivered in campaigns. For example, network security visibility and IoT security are definitely emerging as topics of interest for CIOs, CTOs and senior security decision makers.
Our partners are asking us to create business topic campaigns that allow them to have executive briefings, host lunch-and-learn seminars, or conduct directed outbound efforts. They want content that can be used to re-engage with existing customers and can be also used to go after new business.
And, again, they want us to make it easy for them to pick and choose which business-oriented topic best interests their customers.
CMR – It’s a little unusual to talk to a CMO – even one at a company that sells primarily through partners – who is so deeply involved in channel programs.
Scott Gordon – I’ve worked at a number of B2B IT security companies that are channel-focused. Many years ago, I made a concerted effort to align marketing not only with sales, but also with the folks who run the channel. Plus, as a co-owner of channel strategy and channel and field marketing at other companies, I certainly appreciate the channel as an extension of a company’s salesforce and its ability to reach customers.
I’m fortunate enough to have a team that’s dedicated to channel and field marketing and aligns on a global basis to the sales team who are responsible for distributors and VARs in different continents and regions. We have shared responsibility for measuring our channel program performance, which gives us the marketing insight on where we need to allocate funds and resources.