For most channel marketers, family and friends don’t really have a good idea of what they do for a living. And even at companies that rely on partners to generate a significant share of their revenue, colleagues on corporate marketing and demand gen teams often fail to appreciate the important role that channel marketers play.
There are a variety of reasons why this disconnect occurs so often. But one of the biggest barriers to coordinating direct and indirect marketing teams and their activities is that the staffs seldom share the same manager – especially a marketing executive.
While skimming through Google one day this past September, CMR noticed an article that hinted at a much higher level of coordination at Dialpad, a cloud communication provider. The article, How to Build Ideal Partner Personas for Channel Marketing, wasn’t written by a member of the company’s channel marketing staff. Instead, it was penned by Grace Lau, Dialpad’s Director of Growth Content.
Intrigued, CMR schedule a call with Lau and Dialpad’s Head of Field and Partner Marketing, Faith Sizto, (we had talked with Sizto earlier for another article) to learn more how these marketers’ different teams work together.
CMR – Thanks so much for meeting with me today, Grace and Faith. I have to say it’s unusual to talk with two marketing professionals as well aligned as you.
Faith Sizto – Yes, that’s true. It’s actually interesting that you say that because when Morgan (Morgan Norman, Chief Marketing Officer) came on board, he really persisted in that conversation with me — “You’re in marketing, you extend into sales, you’re our arm there.” But ultimately we have to have an aligned and united front when it comes to how we approach everyone we talk to. Not just partners, not just our customers, not to our prospects. We want this alignment across the board. So it’s been great to see that happen between our teams.
Grace Lau — It’s actually the first time that I’ve ever worked in a company where channel marketing is under the same org as my team. Very often, they’re just completely a different team. And I barely get to really talk to them. Being able to talk to Faith and her team on projects on a daily basis, to message each other, or get on video calls … that’s very new for me as a content marketer.
CMR – As a content marketer, Grace, did Faith and her team have requirements that seemed different? Did you feel that Faith was asking for things that you were unaware a channel team might need?
Grace Lau – Yes, definitely. It’s still a learning experience right now, but there was a couple of weeks where we had a lot of intro calls with Faith and her team, and had to learn about how the channel team works. That this is the kind of content, these are the kinds of assets that would really help them in their day-to-day.
CMR – As a growth content marketer, did you understand the capabilities of channel partners to amplify messages? In previous roles, did you see them as a sort of a “marketing channel” that could get your messages out there even further?
Grace Lau — I do now. When I mentioned earlier about this being the first time we’ve ever worked with channel marketing, that was never a consideration for the marketing org or the content marketing team at all. Here, being able to have that open line of communication with Faith, it’s definitely helped us think about how we can promote certain types of content through channel. And Faith’s team also makes content requests to us when they see there’s an opportunity to build something like a little playbook or a manual that we could provide to channel partners.
Faith Sizto — The cool thing about working with partners, and then with marketing is that it’s a feedback loop, right? We use our partner portal to really leverage, to understand what’s being shared, what’s being opened, what’s being used. We also market via email and LinkedIn. So we’re able to shape a new point of view of how the market perceives us through the partner’s eyes.
I think that as marketers, we have a very general hypothesis of how things should look and what people are interested in. But using our partners or partnering with our partners to see what gets them excited, what gets them sharing also gives us a little bit more insight into maybe the broader market.
CMR – That must take quite a bit of coordination. What is an effective way for you both to collaborate?
Faith Sizto — There are so many ways to do this. We do a quarterly planning sync in terms of just sharing with Grace, where our team is going and what focuses we have, what gaps we’ve identified. And then there’s also the ad hoc requests that we put in.
Grace’s team is always pushing content out for our review. When we see things that would really be good for our partners, we determine if it usable as is. Or do we want to tweak it to focus on the partner audience? Because when we think about marketing to partners or with them, it’s two sides — it’s towards the partner, then for the partner. How are we getting the partners excited about us and building that mind share, but then also how are we making sure we’re enabling them with the right content?
Grace and I definitely talk very regularly. But also our teams really keep in sync when it comes to creating new content together.
CMR — Grace, has it been challenging to understand what channel marketers need and how partners can create more value for the content you create?
Grace Lau — I like to think we picked up on it relatively quickly, but it was a bit of a learning curve for sure. Just because we hadn’t built that kind of muscle memory, that habit of “Oh yeah, we should check with partners.”
Now we can keep an eye on any shared projects that we’re working on together. So I think that’s helped the learning process a little bit more just having that systematized with that whole process clearly laid out.
In September, CMR reported that Dialpad saw a 151% increase in channel sales over Q2 2020 to account for 57% pf overall sales. “It’s been incredible to see our pipeline and booking growth hit record-breaking numbers quarter-over-quarter,” said Mike Kane, Senior Vice President of Global Channel Sales. “We have had another great quarter in the channel demonstrated by the team’s incredible contribution to company revenue while simultaneously doubling the number of registered partners in our new Partner Portal. We’re excited to see our pipeline and booking growth hit record-breaking numbers and to continue supporting our partners in the next half of the year.”
Faith Sizto – It’s actually been a really big move for Mike Kane, our SVP of global Channels and myself to really build the channel brand internally. I think that a lot of times people just see it as a function that just delivers on its own. But the reality is the more synergy you have between your sales team and your marketing teams, that’s really essential.
Morgan and Mike have been really great advocates on both sides to build that. I don’t think that happens in every organization. So I think it’s unique here that we move so quickly, but we do that as a unit. It’s not easy; it’s work! But when it’s worthwhile, I think we’ve seen a lot of benefit from focusing on that between our teams.
Grace Lau — It also helps that Faith is a tireless advocate for her team in our weekly meeting. Channel is very top of mind for myself and my team. We have a channel team and they’re great. And here are the ways where we can support them. That really helps because there’s so many things going on in a marketing org on a daily basis, things just get lost, things get missed. Faith, to her credit, you’ve done a great job of helping us keep our eyes on the screen and, and thinking of channel where we can.