After 28 years in the world of Sales as a Service™, MarketStar has forged many lasting relationships with leaders in our field. We’ve asked Heather Margolis, a respected channel veteran and CEO of Channel Maven, to discuss her thoughts on the importance of integrated demand generation efforts in the partner channel.
We’ve been here before. Integrated demand generation in the channel made a push in 2016 and is continuing momentum into the New Year. It is still commonplace, however, for vendors to unknowingly put pressure on partners to act more as a sales arm, and less as a fulfillment engine when perusing leads. In that case, vendors tend to provide a list of leads, hoping the partner can drive them the rest of the way through the sales funnel while providing little to no guidance along the way.
As a result, partners are left in a void somewhere in-between a poorly planned blast email and an integrated, multi-touch campaign. Most partners will pick one, or maybe two methods to reach out to prospects and simply hope for the best. While it would be easy to point fingers at partners or vendors for this paradigm, it isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault. The IT Channel is constantly evolving, and the reality is, in order to stay competitive, partners need to drive their own business on a much larger scale and be equipped with the necessary marketing tools to be successful.
Sales departments across the channel have found a high level of success through integrated demand generation. This process links multiple pieces of content or collateral with a common theme, message, and objective to reach customers through several touch points that serve to reinforce and direct a sales process. Partners need to use this same approach when addressing their vendor’s leads; and vendors need to provide access and guidance to content and strategy that support this tactic.
Integrated demand generation touch points come through varying mediums, and are logically executed to create a path the customer would naturally follow. Education is key.
For example, I find that leads are more ready to purchase when you build a story like this:
- First, a video – a short message that illustrates the prospect’s problem and solution at a high level
- Second, write a blog post – this works to reinforce your video’s message by adding credibility and additional information
- Third, share a white paper, case study or e-book that takes a deeper dive into the topic. Since the prospect is now familiar (thanks to the blog and video) with the problem and solution, it’s time to answer their questions with a longer piece of content
- Lastly, give them a call – once you know the customer has been properly nurtured, reach out for a conversation. Partners can expect higher close rates due to their active disposition
Just building these pieces of content however, isn’t enough. A huge part of integrated demand generation that is often missed by vendors and partners is the social component. While sending e-mail is still an effective tactic, most prospects are inundated with so many emails that messages are often overlooked. By sharing content via social media (most effectively LinkedIn and Twitter), prospects can still see your partners’ marketing message when surfing the web and checking the news. During this time, they are more receptive because their mindset is on consuming information, not dismissing it. When timed correctly, social posts act as a catalyst that entices a prospect to address the partner’s e-mail and builds more credibility into the brand and message.
Vendors and partners who embrace and collaborate on integrated demand generation campaigns will share mutual success in their sales efforts. Conversely, those who aren’t deploying integrated demand generation campaigns in the next two-three years will see business shift to competitors who have learned to do it well. When vendors educate partners and provide them with resources to implement these tactics effectively, it’s a win-win for all.
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