By Jeff Chancellor, VP, Global Ecosystem Success at Sage
Businesses have gone above and beyond for their customers over the past two tumultuous years. From the growing pains of scaling rapidly to conducting fully remote business operations, companies have had to be incredibly agile in order to remain effective. Part of this agility has included re-evaluating partnerships and the processes behind them. Channel partner programs have begun focusing on subscription-based products, which shutters the old method of closing a deal and moving on to the next sales opportunity.
Attracting new customers and then retaining them – sometimes month to month – has become imperative. This re-tooling of the way business has always been done requires a mindset shift and collaboration within the partner ecosystem to make it work. Since subscription-based business models are becoming increasingly popular, how can channel professionals best help their partners market and sell subscription-based products or services? Here are three ways to provide that crucial support.
Channel partners must be armed with the right tools to strengthen their customer relationships and grow revenue. Marketing campaigns are an essential component of that, and materials and assets should be shared openly.
Consider co-branding fully integrated pre-configured marketing campaigns to generate new opportunities for both of you. Sharing customizable creative assets, like display banners and site design, along with pre-sales lead nurturing support can also be a huge differentiator.
A global partner marketing hub creates a resource center that makes sales and product enablement tools easily accessible. A good channel marketing management platform (CMM) that is easy to use and integrates with your existing CRM/TechStack is a great way to provide these resources in a consumable and deployable fashion. Evaluate several of the great options in the marketplace and select the best platform for your needs. When new resources are released, such as a webinar that advises on how to develop engaging e-newsletters, channel partners can then receive exclusive access.
Companies can also help their partners find new revenue opportunities by jointly identifying the most promising cross-selling opportunities as well as aiding in the propensity assessment for customers ready to migrate to cloud offerings or other products within portfolio. This can lead to better customer experiences as well as increased revenue, retention and scalability.
Invest in data to predict which customers will have the highest purchase potential and share that resource with channel partners. Attributes such as industry, number of users, and complexity of their business can help offer deep insights into which prospects are the best fits and should be prioritized. After identifying potential buyers, work together on brand awareness campaigns, targeted website campaigns, and offer free trials to entice these customers.
Once you land a customer, building a close relationship will help create cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, with high levels of support also leading to high subscription renewal rates. Customer experience is critical, with e-consultancy and Adobe’s Digital Trends report finding that the single most exciting opportunity for B2B companies is customer experience. Loyal customers keep their subscriptions and increase word-of-mouth marketing results. Customers expect a personalized experience, proactive relationships, and consistent multi-channel communication.
Gather data to ensure customer needs and expectations are being met by sending out a fun gamified survey. Regular communication with customers via direct interactions, social and email marketing, and events helps to bolster that long-term relationship further. CRM tools for relationship management can also help to improve customer service quality and responsiveness.
Ultimately, in order to succeed, the network of business partners within a robust channel program must be offered comprehensive, high-quality services, support, and software to help companies get maximum value across your partner ecosystem. American CEOs across a wide variety of sectors agreed that their main 2022 prediction was more volatility and no end to Covid-19 impacts ahead. Partnerships are more important than ever in this uncertain business landscape and should be prioritized and supported accordingly.
Jeff Chancellor is the VP, Ecosystem Success & Communities for Sage, where he leads marketing and distribution innovation while supporting regional and global partner goals. He has more than 15 years of success in national distribution channel strategy, pricing, process, and execution for Fortune 10 and FTSE 100 companies.