Cisco’s acquisition of Slido and IMImobile prompted Andrew Gilman, Head of Marketing and Alliances for NWN, a Cisco partner and a service provider specializing in unified communications, collaboration and contact centers, to share his thoughts on the news. In an email, he wrote:
“These acquisitions are all about driving engagement and making it easy to adopt innovation in this environment. With customers looking to adopt more cloud business communications and collaboration (away from legacy on-premise based platforms) we’re seeing an explosion in the number of new apps/tools, like Slido and IMImobile that can help support employee and customer experiences.
“In today’s environment with IT departments stretched to the max (physically distributed and taxed from a resource perspective) – it’s really critical for OEMs like Cisco and next-gen cloud communications providers like NWN to integrate innovative tools to help customers deliver better outcomes faster.”
Channel Marketer Report took the opportunity to reach out to Gilman and ask for his thoughts on a number of channel marketing topics.
CMR — While some vendors support their partners with high-quality through-channel marketing programs, some miss the mark with their initiatives. What are some of the things that effective channel marketing teams are getting right?
Andrew Gilman — Today it’s all about the data. Who is ‘in-market’ now and researching projects that you can service. Today’s best programs are helping to put the data together better and make it actionable. We then use marketing automation to help.
CMR — What are some of the most critical mistakes that vendor channel marketing teams continue to make?
Andrew Gilman — Focusing too much on speeds and feeds and OEM brand versus business outcomes for customers. Today is all about results and references, so it’s critical to put your customers first and tell their stories. This is especially true with trying to market digitally versus in-person events.
CMR — Vendors are rethinking the way they allocate MDF, many transitioning funds to proposal-based allocations. Are NWN’s vendors inviting you to submit proposals for MDF? How open have they been to your requests? How would describe the approval process?
Andrew Gilman — We’ve moved to a more strategic funding model, where our partners are very tightly aligned with our strategy to drive growth and have made big bets on NWN to run our proven playbook.
CMR — Vendors are investing in a variety of tools and technologies to support their partners’ marketing efforts, but having difficulty driving adoption. Is the problem with the tools – too many tools, maybe — or the investment that vendors are making in training and creation of marketing materials these tools help to disseminate?
Andrew Gilman — That problem sounds like tools for tools sake versus looking at the outcome you want to drive. Is it more meetings, more engagement, more leads? You need to make sure the tools are focused on delivering a specific sales objective/KPI. More tools are not always good, but a few good tools can really help. We implemented an AI tool into Salesforce.com that helps deliver more appointments with our sales team. It has over a 60% conversion ratio of “send” to “meetings”.
CMR — What are some of the investments that you’re making at NWN to make better use of the materials/support/MDF that your vendors are offering?
Andrew Gilman — We’re focused on delivering more aircover, collateral, and programs that help our sellers engage our customer base (remotely) and deliver value. These include launching new solutions into the market like our Experience Management Platform, and new webinars that help educate customers about how to maximize their investments throughout its lifecycle.
CMR — What are some of the emerging B2B marketing challenges that vendors can help companies like yours address?
Andrew Gilman — Breaking into new logos/accounts remotely is much harder than ever before. We’ve developed a great program for achieving it through digital marketing, analytics, AI and BDRs…anything that can help deliver buyers to engage with is the name of the game!