Channel marketers who are not helping their partners promote hard-earned trainings and certifications may be missing a great opportunity to help them boost their business.
According to a recent Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) survey of more than 750 AWS Partner decision makers, participating in AWS Training and Certification programs puts them in a more competitive position. In fact, 81% of AWS Partners said their customers care that partner staff are AWS Certified.
ESG attributes this customer sentiment to AWS Partners’ cloud competencies, increased credibility, and better service resulting from the validated expertise of an AWS Certification, all of which combine to boost customer confidence. In particular, AWS Certification validates skills and knowledge across 11 technical domains and job roles, helping organizations stand out and earn customer trust.
Channel marketing experts say vendors should strive to help partners promote their certifications. Certifications “fall into the category of ‘trust builders’ and should be showcased loud and proud,” said Angela Leavitt, founder and president of Mojenta, a digital marketing agency.
B2B shoppers, like most consumers, want to ensure that they can “trust” the companies with which they do business. “As a marketer, it’s our job to entice people to ‘move toward’ the companies we work with, and one of the best ways to do that is with trust builders and social proof. When we don’t have personal experience with a brand, we look to others to guide us. Think Yelp, Google, and Amazon reviews, and how powerful they are.”
Certifications fall into the same category, and the fact that they are coming from a bigger and better-known entity like AWS means they will carry a lot of weight in the eyes of the prospective customer, added Leavitt. “I would highly recommend that marketers shine a big spotlight on these certs and any and all trust builders they can.”
Hardware and software manufacturers such as Cisco and Microsoft have long done a good job helping partners market their certifications, providing them with logos/badges they can use in their marketing materials to validate their expertise, said Khali Henderson, Senior Partner at BuzzTheory, a marketing agency.
“A logo/seal/badge is a no-brainer for helping partners promote their expertise in selling, configuring, deploying or managing your solution,” she said. “Partners are always looking for ways to boost their credibility with customers. At a minimum, a badge acknowledges their investment of time and/or money in acquiring skillsets to better serve their customers. But certifications also have the potential to swing deals in their favor, all things being equal.”
With high profile, market-leading vendors, in particular, partners’ clients instantly recognize the value of working with a partner that has achieved technical competencies with a leading brand. Certification is also perceived as a big brand endorsement.
For other vendors, certifications are more meaningful to partners’ customers if they unlock greater levels of support or better pricing, for instance. “That takes a little more marketing real estate than a logo to explain,” said Henderson. “But it’s certainly worth doing to help your partners differentiate themselves while successfully representing your brand. It’s a proverbial win-win.”
Henderson suggested that vendors could enable links from them their logo to an explanation of the proven competencies and benefits. Best-in-class programs would offer more assets like press release templates, email templates, language to add to marketing materials or websites, and testimonials/endorsements from channel leadership.
In addition to winning customer confidence, promoting certifications and training can help partners also find and hire new staff. More than half of surveyed AWS Partner organizations reported that investing in AWS Training and AWS Certification helps them recruit and retain valuable cloud talent.
Other data from the ESG survey clearly indicated the value that certifications and training provide to partners. More than three-quarters of respondents to the AWS survey reported an improvement in their staff’s ability to communicate the value of AWS. The majority of partners reported having achieved increased customer spend, higher close rates, sales-cycle acceleration, and improvements in customer retention.