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Partner / Channel Enablement


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Creating a Roadmap for Channel Partner Success with Better Content

Published in: Marketing, Business, Education

Partner / Channel Enablement

  1. 1. Creating a Roadmap for Channel Success with Better Content Channel Enablement 2013
  2. 2. Introduction 2013 may turn out to be the year that channel organizations realize the importance of integrating strategic enablement initiatives with tactical demand generation efforts. SiriusDecisions notes that as vendor channel organizations push more marketing responsibility to their channel partners, the need for greater solution and marketing enablement is more critical than ever before. Add to that the channel implications of cloud computing—new reseller profiles, compensation models and marketing challenges—and 2013 will truly shape up to be the year channel organizations recognize the need for better integration across their entire partner marketing and enablement landscape. Channel Enablement 2013 | 2 That integration can be driven by better content Great content is a vital ingredient to successful partner enablement. It’s crucial to helping partners achieve improved results and better alignment with your organization. This e-book is for you if: • Your company needs to get more out of its existing partners • Your company wants to grow its partner base • You’re looking for true differentiation to set your partner program apart from your competitors’
  3. 3. Integrated Content Strategies for Partner Enablement It’s been proven that, when you focus on consistent enablement content, you can position your company better than competitors with similar offerings. Moving a partner from a reseller model to “solution practice” puts them on a path to huge benefits, including: • Larger deal sizes from packaged solutions that focus on business outcomes • Greater differentiation from competitors that are still pushing products • A more sustainable business model driven by customers who view your partners as strategic advisors How can a more integrated approach to content development help enable partners for success? These three primary goals will lead your partners—and your channel organization—to increased revenues: Align partner business models and offerings with your initiatives and market leadership. Partners that understand your value to their business will align their practice and offerings to your solutions. That includes services and consulting offerings, as well as dedicated sales and technical resources to drive opportunities. Integrate your messages and value propositions into partner solutions and sales models. Developing better content for partner use helps them get beyond their own specific capabilities and position themselves as a leader in solution areas that drive opportunities for your offerings. Execute flawlessly on sales & marketing initiatives & programs. Better content drives better conversations—pure and simple. Sales enablement, thought leadership and collateral that combine your industry leadership with the partner’s local expertise is a win-win situation for all your joint sales and marketing initiatives. Channel Enablement 2013 | 3 Align Integrate Execute
  4. 4. Recruit Repeat Retain Value Messaging • Demonstrate value leadership • Demonstrate differentiation • Provide partner market vision Onboarding • Promote value and leadership • Partner profiling • Develop partner messaging Measure and Monitor • Analyze partner messaging • Identify custom enablement opportunities • Effectively allocate funds Marketing Enablement • Position partner as visionary • Integrate partner and solution value • Enable content-driven initiatives Sales Enablement • Develop solution–oriented assets • Create conversation tools • Integrate partner value message Here’s what the roadmap can look like—and how you can start building the road to success. Channel Enablement 2013 | 4 Read more about how integrated content development at each of these stops on the roadmap can drive greater success in your channel! Channel Content Checklist: Pushing Products or Enabling Success? How much are you enabling your partners? Ask yourself a few questions: • How am I providing the market vision and value leadership that will help partners develop their practices? • How am I looking beyond the next sale or the next quarter’s targets to build a sustainable, growing practice? • How am I helping partners align their business practice with our long-term initiatives?
  5. 5. Demonstrate Value Leadership While your company value starts with the excellence of your solution offerings, defining your customer value is a huge task. Do you have clear messages that define the business value and measurable improvements your solution can deliver? Demonstrate Differentiation Your solution needs very distinct competitive positioning—help partners get beyond a “Brand X vs. Brand Y” type of conversation, and give them messaging and assets that make the case quickly. Provide Partner Market Vision Are you setting the market and leading with the needs of tomorrow’s business? Or are you answering today’s needs in a better way? That “strategic vs. tactical” differentiation will help partners know how to position your solutions with their other offerings and how to build services and other solutions around them. Considerations for value messaging 1. 2. 3. Value Messaging Channel success starts with high-value messaging that feeds all elements of your channel relationships. Many channel program messages typically start with the strength of the product and how much customers love it. But is that the best way to get partners interested? Today’s resellers are mostly focused on how they can make money—at the least possible startup expense. That means showing the partner where the market—and the money—is going, related to new solutions, initiatives or trends (cloud computing, endpoint security and desktop virtualization are a few examples.) Questions to consider when developing new channel messaging include: • How can we add value to a partner’s business? • How can we position the partner as a leader? • How can we take the partner’s business into new areas that matter to customers? Channel Enablement 2013 | 5 Successes From the Roadmap Create Differentiation Through Solution Packaging One large Value-Added Distributor (VAD) needed to simplify the complexities associated with marketing cross-vendor offerings and make it easier for customers to buy solutions that address major IT concerns around security, cloud and mobility. Launch International organized the VAD’s cross-vendor offerings around major IT initiatives and produced playbooks that mapped customer needs to ideal solutions. By using the playbooks, partners could prove differentiation in the market segment and follow the fastest path to revenue.
  6. 6. Promote Value and Leadership Have you properly developed the vision and message for partner executives, so they understand the real payoffs for investing in your solution? Or, are your resources and assets focused on tactical sales and technical support? Partner Profiling Map your offerings to other services and solutions a partner may have, and create the high-level assets to help them connect the dots. Storage and networking solutions often go hand in hand, as do security and infrastructure consolidation. Your company doesn’t have to be an expert in the cross-sell, but you can point the way. Develop Partner Messaging The best way to help a partner move forward is to show it what good messaging looks like. Take the extra step to create messaging guides and positioning resources to help it identify the best messages and market segments to target. Considerations for value messaging 1. 2. 3. Onboarding The partner onboarding process is your first opportunity to raise expectations for your partner AND your channel organization about what can be achieved by building a practice around your solution. This is your opportunity to show your partner how a deeper relationship with your company can help deliver greater value, increased revenues, and the opportunity to develop complementary services. Great content assets—onboarding guides, whiteboard presentations, services overviews—are the perfect way to get a partner started down the path to success. Such assets need to communicate the value and payoffs by founding a practice related to your solution. Questions to consider when developing onboarding assets include: • Where does our solution fit into your partners’ business? • What other solutions can we help partners sell? • What does the partner need to do to be successful now and in the future? Channel Enablement 2013 | 6 Channel Content Checklist: Is your 30/60/90-day onboarding program one-sided? The biggest exposure of onboarding programs is creating an endless obstacle course partners must navigate over a 30/60/90-day period. Too often, the programs are focused only on partner tasks and responsibilities—with only a promise of future revenues as the payoff. A security solution vendor has consolidated many channel offerings and certifications to make them more partner-friendly. Launch International has created a series of onboarding guides and playbooks to illustrate the immediate benefits of specific onboarding tasks. The result has been faster time to revenue, and improved penetration into the sales, marketing and technical audiences within key partner accounts.
  7. 7. Develop Solution–Oriented Assets Are your selling and buying tools relevant to the customer situation? Ensure your content assets focus on audience role, company size, pain point and solution of interest. You can’t address all of the issues for all segments, so focus on only the most important factors. Create Conversation Tools Whiteboard selling tools are valuable and strategic enablement assets. Problem is, they’re popping up everywhere, and channel sellers are being inundated with new processes and techniques from multiple vendors. Be sure to stay high-level with your conversation tools and associated thought leadership assets. Focus on the topics and pains from a business perspective, and lead the customer to your solution. Integrate Partner Value Message Great partner enablement content is dynamic and flexible enough to support customization with the partner messages. It should be able to include services and other vendor offerings as an integrated solution to address customer challenges. Be sure to consider customization and cross-selling opportunities when creating your sales enablement assets. Considerations for value messaging 1. 2. 3. Sales Enablement Successful channel organizations truly understand what’s happening between indirect salespeople and their buyers. And, great sales content has to be created with an appreciation of how it will be used. At the center of that effort is a focused organization—including product managers, channel marketers, field account managers— driving toward the same goal: winning customers and keeping them for life. Considering that few solution providers have standardized or documented a specific selling methodology, it’s no small job to create tools that help sellers across an undocumented course. And, the importance of an integrated content approach is magnified when you include the potential cross-sell and services upsell scenarios. Questions to consider when developing sales enablement assets include: • Who are the target buyers, and what are their business challenges? • How have we aligned enablement assets for the entire sales cycle? • What does the partner need to do to be successful now and in the future? Channel Enablement 2013 | 7 Successes From the Roadmap Integrate Offerings with Partners’ Existing Solutions A leading storage infrastructure company needed to drive better partner adoption and cross-selling of its storage offerings with its partners’ existing data center, messaging and collaboration, virtualization and security solutions. Launch International created selling guides, battle cards, and other assets that showed partners the fastest path to revenue using the company’s storage solution within their services and offering portfolios.
  8. 8. Position Partner as Visionary True thought leadership comes from setting a direction and vision for a solution that is really unique in the marketplace. It’s critical to position a channel partner as able to deliver on a strategic solution that can make a significant impact on its customers’ businesses. Integrate Partner and Solution Value Campaigns, collateral and other communications simply must include the partner value proposition. How does the partner turn your offering into a solution to the customer challenges? Enable Value-Driven Initiatives The best way to show value is to show experience. Have you enabled your partner to validate its successes through case studies, industry briefs and other targeted proof points? Considerations for value messaging 1. 2. 3. Channel Enablement 2013 | 8 Marketing Enablement It is surprisingly common for channel marketing organizations to report that partner salespeople are simply unaware of the marketing initiatives taking place around them. Improved visibility and alignment could impact and enhance partner salespeople’s interactions with their customers and prospects. This disconnect is often related to the way partner marketing is funded: most marketing budgets come from a product or solution silo and the outbound initiatives often stop when the leads are delivered to the partner. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for partners to integrate their own value-added services or position themselves as leaders in the space. Questions to consider when developing marketing enablement assets include: • Are we helping the partner validate its value message to solve the customer challenge? • Have we provided assets and tools for the entire buying cycle, and not just the first outbound touch? • Is the partner driving the initiative? Or are we providing “air cover?” Channel Content Checklist: Align Marketing Assets with the Buying Cycle A large infrastructure provider needed our help to develop a series of marketing assets to help partners take prospects through the buying cycle faster. Launch created each marketing asset to move customers to the next buying decision—leading them from overall pains and value conversations through the consideration and preference phases and the final sale. The program has resulted in increased pipeline, improved close rates and a more energized channel.
  9. 9. Analyze Partner Messaging Conduct a clear messaging analysis of your strategic partners related to their company, offerings, sales strategy, targets competition and marketing capabilities. That’s how you’ll know if they’re able to take your solution to market successfully. Identify Custom Enablement Opportunities The partners with the right complementary portfolios should be considered for unique enablement resources and campaigns. Some vendors reward technical or infrastructure investments like in-house briefing or innovation centers with dedicated campaigns, whiteboards and other custom enablement. Effectively Allocate Funds Through measurement, you should be able to demonstrate ROI on channel investments and the effectiveness of your enablement efforts and identify which partners are able to maintain and grow revenues and market share. Considerations for value messaging 1. 2. 3. Ongoing Analysis Industry experts report that as much as 90% of marketing monies invested in the channel do not demonstrate any form of return. There are countless reports on how vendor-sponsored demand gen programs contribute only 6% toward top-line revenue. How can your company beat the odds and implement programs that pay? Now more than ever, channel organizations need proof of value from the enablement tools and assets they provide their partners. That’s not just to illustrate partner value—it’s likely important to your annual performance review as well! Questions to consider when developing measurement metrics: • How can we turn “B” performers into “A” performers? • What can we really expect from a partner in terms of their own ability to find, work and close a deal? • What do we really know about our partners’ marketing capabilities? Channel Enablement 2013 | 9 Channel Content Spotlight: Finding Your Bottom Line for Marketing Expectations Launch International developed a “bottom line” methodology to identify high- and medium- performing partners able to tell an integrated story about one software client’s solutions. We analyzed existing marketing messages and seller conversa- tions and ranked them (0-4) on their ability to sell and market vendor solutions. We also developed a custom path forward for the entire partner program—as well as key target partners we could help move from “B” performers to “A” performers.
  10. 10. !About the Author As VP of Channel Services, Eric mines his 15 years of experience at Launch International to deliver a best-practices approach to channel enablement and development, thought leadership and whiteboarding. He has supported many indirect sales and marketing organizations and intimately understands the unique challenges associated with marketing to and through an extended value network of partners and resellers. Eric can be reached at: Channel Enablement 2013 | 10 Consider Using a Third Party for Help Despite your best intentions, the usual barriers to change (e.g., history, pride of ownership, organizational silos) can get in the way of success. Working with an experienced and unbiased third party can help you clear obstacles and focus on the real goal: driving revenue and long-term practice enablement. 267-337-6255