Creating a Roadmap for Channel Success
with Better Content
Channel Enablement 2013
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.
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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
• Your company wants to
grow its partner base
• You’re looking for true
differentiation to set your
partner program apart
from your competitors’
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
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
Execute flawlessly on
sales & marketing initiatives
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
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Align Integrate Execute
• Demonstrate value leadership
• Demonstrate differentiation
• Provide partner market vision
• Promote value and leadership
• Partner profiling
• Develop partner messaging
Measure and Monitor
• Analyze partner messaging
• Identify custom enablement
• Effectively allocate funds
• Position partner as visionary
• Integrate partner and solution value
• Enable content-driven initiatives
• 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!
Pushing Products or
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
• How am I looking beyond the
next sale or the next quarter’s
targets to build
a sustainable, growing
• How am I helping partners
align their business practice
with our long-term
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
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
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
Create Differentiation Through
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
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.
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?
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
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?
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Is your 30/60/90-day
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
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
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
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?
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Integrate Offerings with Partners’
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
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.
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’
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
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
Considerations for value messaging
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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?”
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
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
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
Finding Your Bottom Line for
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”
!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.