The Channel Company Vendor Services
The Channel Company, which incudes CRN, Computing, Channel Partner Insight and bChannels, has come together to create an end-to-end vendor service to provide more transparent and reliable returns from the IT Channel.
This is the sixth in a series of blogs explaining some of the biggest challenges facing channel leaders in 2023, collated from our bespoke research and editorial coverage. Read on and get in touch to see how we will be working with vendors to overcome these hurdles, and focus on smarter spend, more targeted communication, and growing your partner base.
One size does not fit all
Partner marketing in the technology channel plays a vital role in getting your solutions in front of the right customers.
In the current market, this is more important than ever. The UK's macroeconomic climate remains challenging, and end users are changing their technology investment priorities as a result.
The ongoing shift towards consumption models has also meant organisations are rethinking their technology purchasing strategy. In turn, channel partner marketing activities must adapt.
It may be tempting for vendors to cast the net as wide as possible when recruiting new partners.
However, inundating channel decision makers with calls may have the opposite effect. They may not be in the market for new vendors and, even if they are, may not be a good fit for your proposition and market presence. Instead, vendors must foster a positive relationship to stand out from the crowd right from the get-go.
A "one size fits all" or a "campaign-in-a-box" approach to both recruiting and managing partnerships may mean you are not getting the most value out of channel marketers. Vendors are having to compete for partner mindshare, meaning they must invest time and resources into each partner, learn their capabilities, and understand their resources and strategy in order to create long-term value.
Data-driven decisions: Intent data and capability targeting
Taking a more precise approach is therefore beneficial not just for channel marketers but for you as a vendor. This can be achieved through unlocking insights from data. Just like in end-user marketing, quality is more important than quantity and intent data is key to understanding whether channel partners are looking to partner with new vendors, and determine whether they are a good fit for your organisation.
In order to do this, it is important to establish an ideal channel partner profile. This means homing in on potential partners who have the capabilities to reach your intended end users, lowering the risk of wasting resources contacting unsuitable organisations.
This may include company size, the areas they specialise or are active in, other vendors they have relationships with, or the markets they are currently operating in.
Intent data is also vital to understanding if and when channel partners are looking for new vendors. Organisations that lay the groundwork before they start talking to potential partners can not only save time and resources, but foster positive partner relationships by demonstrating an understanding of partners' own motivations, strengths, and growth strategies.
Capability targeting using data analytics is used to identify the channel product and services capabilities of channel partners. Using this information, vendors can determine the right partners for the right activities, and the best ways to engage them.
As well as partners themselves, understanding who else they are working with is also important. Competitive intelligence helps identify the areas they are active in with a competitor, which can be used to increase mindshare. In the current market, channel partners may be reluctant to take a chance on a new vendor over an existing one, so understanding the competition and standing out from the crowd is essential to generating new business.
Through the strategic use of data, your organisation can increase the likelihood of a successful partnership before a channel partner has even been contacted. By not only having a clear proposition for what your organisation hopes to gain from a channel partnership, but also what you can offer a partner, you can maximise the likelihood of finding mutual interest.
However, the channel partner journey is not over once partners have been recruited. It is important to nurture the accounts your organisation has put time and resources into engaging.
According to recent research, the main factors that may cause a channel partner to leave a partnership were a lack of support, poor follow-up with a supplier, not being a strategic fit with their business, low margins, and ROI being less than expected. Creating and maintaining positive relationships is clearly a deciding factor in getting the most value out of partnerships. Content that builds and maintains mindshare has a crucial role to play here. This content can itself be informed by ABM intent data, which reveals which content is most popular with which accounts, and therefore helps identify partner needs.
In the current market, having a good product alone is not enough. Relationship building, as well as being on-hand to offer the right level of support is key, and this is best achieved through a well-run partner programme.
This means that partners will be more engaged with your brand, making it easier for them to generate leads and drive sales.
A clear understanding of "what's in it for me" through training, incentives, support and regular contact gives partners the best opportunities to get your products in front of the right customers.