In today’s highly competitive world, the biggest challenge faced by marketers is how to keep their channel partners engaged. As they increase the demand for their products which in turn generates revenue for their business. Your competitors may have their own strategies to keep them engaged, maximize their performance and reap the benefits in terms of revenue generation from them. To help you stay ahead of your competitors, let’s talk about tools for channel partner engagement in this blog.
It’s important to bear in mind that they are people who work for their own organizations or for other organizations apart from yours. They are definitely not an employee of your firm. They at times represent other organizations who may be your competitors.
Channel partners are focused and propelled to do what is best for their own firm and not what your company wants them to do.
Just as employees of a firm and customers for a brand, channel partners too are subject to emotions and drivers. Since they work for multiple brands they are likely to get distracted. They favor some brands over the rest. As a client, you would always want to be at the top of the list of their client list.
Having a disengaged channel partner to build engagement around your brand would be a bad decision.
If they are emotionally detached they will not prove their worth at driving demand for your products and increase revenue for your business.
In order to emotionally engage your channel partner, you need to dig deep to understand and know what keeps them motivated and what is required to be done to make them successful.
Did you know?
An independent survey carried out by Relayware states that less than one third channel managers track all the activities that lead to increased revenue. And about 25% of the channel managers track both depth of the online portfolio and the leads generated by partners.
Only 4% of all your channel partners’ sales professionals drive the vast majority of all your channel revenue.
According to CSO Insights 2016 Channel Sales Optimization Study, 36% of the respondents reported that their top-tier partners are generating more than 70% of all channel revenues.
According to CSO Insights, 63.5% of the companies stated that channel partners contributed to their annual revenue and that 24% of the surveyed organizations stated that it takes over a year for them to become fully productive.
While you pick on channel partners for your organization make sure you pick the ones who have the market knowledge, sales expertise, distribution channels and of course not to forget customer relationships to effectively and successfully deal with customers and manage to sell your products or services.
As an organization, you have identified the fact that the channel partner strategy is one of the best approaches to increase your company’s sales. You have even formed a network.
Now, what’s next?
Channel partner engagement is very important at all levels to develop a strong relationship to value what each party brings to your business. It’s important to develop a social engagement tool for them.
How Do Channel Partners Engagement Help?
- It provides a platform for new ways to engage and motivate your channel partner.
- Channel partners engagement offers innovative ways to differentiate and promote your brand.
- Offers ways to measure your channel partners performance and their potential.
- It also offers different ways to drive leads and grow your revenue.
Channel Partners Engagement:
Good channel partners are always in great demand because of their capacity to sell products and deliver revenue to the organizations. Manufacturers lure cthem by offering them Market Development Funds and lead programs to assist them to promote the manufacturer’s brand as well as sell the manufactures products.
In today’s economy almost everyone plays the MDF game trick, most of the channel managers end up being frustrated as they are not able to track the MDF program performance.
Good channel partners just do not want to consume the leads but they also want to learn how to drive those leads effectively.
Channel partners aren’t a cluster of sales representatives who keep the phones engaged with cold calling, but they are actually businesses working to benchmark themselves and their brands in the markets.
They have a team of resourceful marketers who are not only innovative, open to try out new techniques/strategies but also have the hunger and craving for success. Channelizing these socially engaged channel partners in a proper and synchronized way, helping them to build their brand, generate leads will also help you to generate some revenue that would definitely reap better results than the MDF programs that are costly.
Channel Partners Engagement Tools are:
Social engagement tools help channel partners to communicate and engage effectively with their prospects while vendors make sure that their sales and marketing information reaches a large audience.
Both vendors, as well as channel partners, use newsletter, blogs, social media as a mode to connect, communicate and foster relationships with clients and prospects thereby bringing in new leads.
So, let’s understand the tools for better channel partner engagement?
- Treat your Channel Partners as your Own Employees:
Would you ever commit a blunder to send your resource in an on-field job especially when he is a new hire and has no knowledge about your company, its services etc.?
Instead, you would have a plan in place for this new hire as in like having an induction done that would tell about your products, its features, the services you offer, technology resources, your sales methodology and a lot more.
Have you had such a plan in place for all your partners? Offer them the training and attention they deserve so that they can be efficient and successful enough to deliver results to you. Do keep in mind if you don’t train them they are individuals who will come up with their own methods.
- Offer Them Some Coaching Sessions:
Just as your sales team gets a coaching session to deal with issues like communication style, objection handling etc. Do your partners get this privilege? Involve them in your coaching plans so that they too can enhance their skills.
- Provide Them With Ready To Go Content:
Have experts appointed who will provide all the support and material required to educate and train them? Your content experts can prepare an editorial calendar and craft creative content that your channel partners can use as tweets, newsletter, blogpost or even Facebook updates.
- Business Intelligence Reports:
You need to measure the potentials and performance of your channel partners. Look out for tools that give you real-time reports that actually show you what they are doing as in which content they use the most and which content is famous amongst their customers.
- Offer Them Various Communication Mode Options:
Provide them with various communication modes that will keep your marketing team connected with them and in case of any doubts/issues/queries the matter can be attained and closed as fast as possible. Some modes of communication are as follows:
- Online chat:
This mode of communication opens up a quick line of communication for channel partners questions and feedback. It's more instant and builds the trust factor between corporate marketers as well as your partners.
Engage channel partners who have complex questions with forums like ‘Ask a Question’ within the distributed marketing platform. Forums are the best place to receive a varied range of opinions, experiences, insights and it incites discussions amongst the organization as well as its channel partners. It offers a platform for channel marketers to share their marketing insights with one another and discuss important issues within the group.
- Partner Surveys:
How well do corporate marketers understand the issues faced by their channel partners? Deploying surveys on the consistent basis allows marketers to know and understand the important issues and plan out effective strategies to overcome those issues.
- The Digital Partner Wallet:
Just as digital gift cards, distributed marketing platforms provide digital partner wallets. Partner wallets can be loaded up by corporates; so that channel partners can easily use the money on pre-approved marketing campaigns. Since most of the programs are pre-approved; partner wallets can be utilized to quickly streamline the money sanctioning process thereby helping them generate the demand faster, convert them into leads and drive the revenue.
- Getting More Fans And Followers:
Create content for social offers that would enact as a facilitator for getting people to like your channel partner’s Facebook page or like them on Twitter or even Instagram.
Encourage channel partner engagement through rewards. You can consider two types of award structures:
- Activity-based such as deal registration, joint calls, training is a few to name.
- Growth based such as achieving sales growth.
Compass is a platform that offers channel performance reward programs to its clients. We at Compass offer high-value and customized reward programs to award your top channel performers.
Our Channel Performance Reward Programs involve:
- High perceived value experiences and products on achieving their targets.
- Our platform includes point based engagement and loyalty features such as Announcements, special perks, experience and a gift voucher, surveys and referrals
- Our reward range could be anything from customized xoxo voucher to Enterprise portal or even Whitelisted page.
Encourage channel partner engagement with events like say webinars. Bring them together for a face-to-face event to develop, enhance and strengthen their relationships.
You can host an annual channel partner conference where they can connect, associate and engage with one and other and your brand as well.
- Simplify Marketing with a Distributed Marketing Platform:
A distributed channel marketing program lets you easily connect to your entire channel marketing network. Marketers use a variety of provider websites for digital marketing content.
Platforms like distributed marketing bring marketing content and vendors under one portal. It also streamlines the process of executing marketing campaigns using this content across all communication channels like email, social media, newsletters, blogs and even mobile.
Such portals let marketers create campaigns wherein their channel partners are easily able to access the information such as documents, sales materials, manuals and a lot more just by a few clicks.
Let’s consider an event marketing kit. As marketers, we all know that marketing events can serve as a powerful weapon to engage with local customers. On the other hand, we are also aware of the pain points and the complexities we face while creating or even participating in such events.
Planning for an event involves, determining and tracing the required items, then looking for vendors who can get those items delivered to you. However, it is both times consuming as well as pricey.
But if you offered them with a pre-approved event marketing toolkit that would provide your partners with everything required to participate or create an event. It would let your channel partners promote your brand, product, and services in an easier way.
- Praise Your Channel Partners Successes:
Brag about their success and let them shine off in various areas.
For instance: One month you can showcase any of your channel partners who have completed a training. On the month, throw the spotlight on one of them who has effectively made use of the MDF. The following month you could highlight the channel partner with a record of a number of leads.
Such praises can be announced in a newsletter article or an icon next to their name in you or on an online community.
- Celebrate Landmarks:
This could be your channel partners’ anniversary ever since he is engaged with your brand. It could also be those times when your partner wins an X number of leads.
Inspire loyalty and recognize the efforts put in. Let them share this milestone of theirs beyond the partner community as they can shout out their successes with you to the customers.
Gamification is a hot trend and is growing its popularity to help speed up engagement. It can also be used as an effective tool for getting channel partners to try out new programs.
All you need to make sure is that the game is tuned in a manner to encourage the behaviors you want. Basic gaming programs help in propelling basic behaviors such as sharing content, getting votes or likes on posts, and a lot more than only creating activity metrics that vaporizes once the game is finished.
Enhanced gaming approaches can leverage a channel partner’s shared interest in yielding marketing and sales results, rewarding results instead of only activities.
For example, the capacity and excellence of qualified leads, click through and conversion rates, sales revenue etc.
Channel partners are an amazing opportunity to expand a business’s reach and nurture the sales and distribution. In order to know about their maximum potentials, you need to provide them with the right fuel. Channel partner engagement is important in crafting their loyalty.
The most important aspect of channel partner engagement is not about propelling them frontward through engineered programs/platforms. It's about associating with them, in a way that lets you perceive, hear and understand what their challenges and needs are straightforward.
So that you can comprehend what hindrances you require to wipe out from their alley to help them succeed.
Engaging with channel partners and putting them in a situation where they can become subject matter experts on their supplier’s products, services and solutions will allow them to get into the market with confidence.
And also to construct and develop their sales funnel, enhance and generate the revenue streams and yield an overall amplified ROI.