While channel leaders often express some frustration about not being able to break the 80/20 barrier, a white paper by Channel Impact, a channel focused consulting firm and services agency, suggests that vendors will continue to focus their attention on their top performing partners and those showing the most potential for the future But now, they are going to be expecting much more from them in the way of marketing expertise and investment.
“Vendors have always focused on their top partners,” said Kristine Stewart, Channel Impact’s VP, client success and marketing, and author of the white paper, Experience Matters: The Pivot to Hyper Personalization. “Now they’re saying it out loud and clear, especially to those partners themselves, which probably gets their attention.”
The extra attention on higher performing partners clearly reflects a more targeted use of vendor resources. “Most channel leaders have limited time and resources to spread across their partners,” said Stewart. “Their focus now is on those who are going to be successful and those willing to engage in advanced digital marketing strategies.”
Partners that may be getting more attention from vendors should be careful not to take their status for granted, noted Stewart. For example, one company featured in the report intends to refresh its target list of the top 50 partners every six months and invest 80% of their time and money with them.
Other companies are focusing their attention on partners who are more capable of delivering specific solutions, specifically in the XaaS cloud space.
And while many vendors aren’t striving to expand their channel ecosystems with more partners, some are looking at new types of partners or companies that can help them penetrate a new segment, region, or support a new product or service, said Stewart.
Partners may be surprised by the kind of attention they’re getting. The channel leaders interviewed for the report are striving to more deeply engage their stronger partners with a mix of modern channel tactics and new technologies. Although it has become increasingly common for vendors to develop strategies by partner type (i.e. VAR, MSP, etc.), vendors are also now defining partner personas to align communications with specific roles and value delivery, the paper notes.
One of the companies featured in the paper built partner personas that are segmented by sellers, marketers, tech sellers, executives, admins/operations, and customer service/support, as well as by partner type, region, program participation, and other attributes. Content is created and addressed to meet the specific needs of each persona using a task or role-based methodology as it relates to the solution, program, campaign or technology. An omni-channel approach supports the persona-based strategy, delivering messages to partners across digital, social media, email/newsletters, and dynamic content.
Channel leaders are investing in new technologies to ensure more effective communication with partners. Vendors are building partner experience portals to serve as a single pane of glass for partners at the persona level for all their needs, including the capability for sharing customer data with its partners.
Sophisticated mobile apps are being developed to engage partner staff wherever and whenever support is needed. In addition to providing easy, on-demand access to content, one of the apps tracks customer meetings, security check-ups, cloud/mobile demonstrations, sales activities, account planning, and training. A leader board and other gamification-inspired features play to the competitive spirit of sales reps.
Vendors are looking beyond total revenue for partner ranking. The data these tools provide will help vendors identify which partners to focus their attention, said Stewart. “They going to be looking at the classes they are taking and the metrics they report for campaigns. They will focus on the marketing abilities of their partners and their ability to execute on the programs they want them to run.”
To learn more about hyper-personalization as a strategy, download the report.