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    May 16, 2020

    How to Incorporate Content into Your Channel Planning Process

    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. 

    Partners can affect 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 is that partners are an incredibly important audience to win over, a task that is increasingly difficult with the number of players in the industry. You want to ensure you communicate clearly your unique value in a way that's customized to each partner. So how do you do that? It comes down to two things:

    • Having the right content to communicate
    • Building a plan to distribute content

    This blog will focus on develop the right content for your partner planning needs. 

    Three steps for content creation

    1. Identify requirements across the partner experience
    2. Tailor your list based on how your partners work with your customers
    3. Prioritize the highest impact action first

    1. Identify requirements across the partner experience

    The first step is to define the content specifically required for success. 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.

    2. Tailor your list 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. Contrary to popular opinion, a partner organization isn’t homogeneous, but includes multiple audiences including:

    • Executives
    • 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, you'd need a partner value proposition presentation. While this is helpful with a direct seller, it is typically far more useful in targeting 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 resources. While the executives simply care about the outcome those campaigns drive, the marketing team members would appreciate any ready-made content they can deploy quickly.

    3. Prioritize the highest impact action first

    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 depends on the situation. 

    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.

    The key is not to solve everything immediately, but create a solid roadmap so you are moving in the right direction.

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