Partners today offer far more value than just being a scaled extension of a vendor’s sales force. They often have deep relationships with your most important end-customers, and influence aspects of your deals, whether it is the:
- Structure and scope of the final solution a customer purchases
- Timing of when the deal lands based on anticipated upgrade cycles
- Who the vendor is based on integration with a broader portfolio and the solution value offered
The result of this trend is that partners are an incredibly important audience to win over, a task that is increasingly difficult with how many players are in the industry and how much noise exists in the market today.
Driving results from mindsharing with partners requires focus in how you communicate so that you are perceived as providing value to them, when they need it, in the way they need, and without adding to the overall noise.
So how do you do that? It comes down to two things:
- Having the right content to communicate
- Building a plan to get that content out there
Previously, we have talked about building a solid ; today, I’m going to focus on the content itself.
While most companies have aof content, that doesn’t mean they have the RIGHT content. Getting the right content requires three steps:
- Identify what is required across the partner experience
- Tailor your list based on how your partners work with your customers
- Prioritize what is going to be the most important first
Identify what is required across the partner experience
The first step is to define what content is specifically required based on the purpose. Typically there are six areas to consider:
- Planning to ensure you are set up to get the most from your partners
- Marketing to partners to recruit and activate
- Sales materials to enable them and help them sell
- Product collateral to provide critical information on specific solution value
- Technical materials for once they get through initial conversations
Let’s take a look at product collateral as an example: For each solution you sell you could conceivably have infographics, reference guides, datasheets internally; with third party resources like product reviews, analyst reports, and other assets. You will need to assess which pieces of content are required, which brings us to the second step.
Tailor your list to based on how your partners work with your customers
When you define your list, consider what is going to be delivered to the customer and how. Some content will be communicated directly to the customer, and some will be distributed through the partner. The important consideration is that you have material for each purpose, that can be delivered through the required channel.
When considering the through partner channel, there is the added complexity of getting the partner on board all-up. Contrary to popular opinion, a partner isn’t a homogenous thing. It is made up of multiple audiences across their:
- Marketing teams
- Sales representatives
- Technical resources
Depending on what you want from your partners or where you aren’t seeing the return, tailor your list to the affected audience. A great example is in activating your channel.
First, would be a partner value proposition presentation. While this is helpful with a direct seller, it is typically far more useful in targeting the partner executives.
Second, is an incentives guide. While the executive wants to ensure profitability, this will highly motivate the individual sellers.
Finally, there is a campaign-in-a-box. While the executives simply care about the outcome those campaigns drive, the marketing resources themselves are attracted to ready made content they can leverage to create results.
Prioritize what is going to be the most important, the soonest
There is more you could do than you ever will. With typical restrictions on time and resources, once you have a list of what needs to be built the last step is to prioritize what comes first.
Getting your prioritization right isn’t as simple as a math equation, but there are some good guidelines to follow.
For instance, if you are finding that your conversion rate of marketing qualified leads to close is low, focus on the sales enablement content first. If your ecosystem is too small, you may consider reviewing and updating your planning materials to ensure you have the right approach, or to-partner material to better activate them.
The key is not to solve everything immediately, but create a solid roadmap so you are steadily heading to where you need to go.
If you are having trouble, let us know. We have a blueprint to walk you through this process and are happy to help!