Technology industries should be at the forefront of improving business and channel partnerships through online software and tools. One of the best ways to accomplish this is the implementation of a through-channel marketing (TCM) program.
Not only is this type of partner program a must-have for channel marketing, it can be a valuable asset that differentiates vendors from their competition and increases revenue.
How do you take your partner program from “adequate” to “revenue contributor”? More than anything else, you need features that encourage utilization.
And while there are plenty of such features, successful channel partner programs are those that are focused on the issues at hand. Utilizing the target market to its fullest potential is having the ability to close deals, use strategic partnerships, and enhance the sales process.
As for us here at Extu, our business development has seen increased strides towards making a successful partner program, one that is at the top of the channel program industry. Partner relationships are an incredibly important aspect of channel marketing.
The best partners help each other every step of the way, be it with marketing material or technical support.
All of this would be difficult to achieve without the appropriate partner program and sales tools, which is why we’ve developed highly successful channel partner program technology.
Partners must adopt and consistently use the program.
The danger of partner program technology, as is the case with most business intelligence tools, is focusing on the wrong thing: a program’s bells and whistles, sexiness, or presentation rather than how much it’s actually utilized.
Even the most powerful and attractive partner program is still a resource drain, not an asset, if partners can’t figure out how to use it, don’t have time to use it, or don’t find anything valuable or relevant to them within it.
Here at Extu, we achieved an 80% average utilization rate across all of our programs with our TCM programs, compared to an industry average of 12%. We’ve done this by keeping these principles at the forefront of our technology:
Ease of Use
An intuitive, easy-to-use platform should be your primary goal in offering a partner program. A DemandGen report found that, for channel sales reps, ease of experience is one of the aspects they value most in a vendor’s program. In the same report, 42% of partner sales reps said that difficulty participating, qualifying, or advancing in the program was its most challenging aspect.
An easy-to-use TCM partner program features a quick, seamless onboarding and short learning curve. It should integrate easily into any accompanying sales and marketing software that you and your partners already use (more on that later). This minimal time investment is especially crucial for SMB partners who have a bare-bones marketing department or none at all.
In the DemandGen report mentioned above, 40% of channel partner sales reps said that limited/nonexistent marketing enablement was one of the most challenging aspects of their vendor’s program.
It’s important to provide valuable and engaging content through a TCM program. This means more than just compelling content about your products and services. The content in your TCM program should be:
- Easy to access and search
- A dynamic blend of industry updates, thought leadership, product information, and co-branded promotions or announcements
- Multichannel in format, including articles, research, videos, images, texts, presentations, templates, etc.
- Integrated with automated social media posting capabilities
These qualities will make your TCM program more relevant and appealing to channel partners, which will increase utilization and strengthen your partnership.
Technology Plus Services
Channel marketing is often complex, and the marketing automation solutions that make business-to-customer (B2C) marketers’ jobs so much easier don’t always have the same usefulness for business-to-business (B2B) marketers. Marketing automation software is typically focused on giving marketers the ability to send more marketing content, faster.
This is just one of a channel marketer’s many challenges, which include reaching customers indirectly, segmenting and understanding buyers who are also sellers, aligning goals with channel partners’, and lack of access to partners’ sales, and any quirks, regulations, or demands of their particular industry or channel.
All of these factors mean that channel marketing and partner programs are much more effective when supported with expert services and consultation. A program provider should offer you consultation and support to onboard and manage your program, as well as extend those services to your partners.
Utilization is the single most important factor in determining your partner program success. It may sound obvious, but channel technology sometimes drifts away from this fact: useability trumps everything else. You may not always be able to predict what features and tools will boost utilization, but prioritizing the three aspects above is a great way to set your partner program up for success.