One thing we have learned as businesses try to navigate a post-pandemic economy is that fortune favors those who are prepared. Here are some tips to motivate your channel partners in times of uncertainty and business nerves that are hard to manage. Many businesses are now learning how to navigate the post-pandemic environment. Many businesses are learning how to navigate the post-pandemic economy, including a (possible?) recession, supply-chain issues, the Great Resignation, as well as other issues. We have learned one thing over the years: fortune favors the prepared. ChannelCon 2022 was hosted by 360Insights. Akilah Murrrell and Heather K. Margolis, both from 360Insights, shared their top tips on how vendors can encourage channel partners to sell their solutions in times of uncertainty and “business nerves.”
Know and Assess Your Partners
It doesn’t matter if you have been in business together for years, or if this is your first time working together, it can be very productive to do a deep dive into who your partner really is and what their current pain points are. Your partners have likely experienced changes in the last few years. Roles and employees have been rearranged, budgets have been rearranged, and products or services are ready for breakout. Only by doing your research can you find solutions that work for your partner in this moment.
Murrell stated, “Right now it is important to really understand where your partner is coming from and cater to their immediate needs.” Building relationships with your partners is an important step in establishing your position as a trusted solution provider, given the amount of change and growth happening in IT channels. You don’t want your business to be lost to a competitor simply because you didn’t do enough research.
Educate Your Partners
After you have assessed the landscape for your partner it is time to align what you consider the most cost-effective, impactful solutions to their vision. This is not the time to remain in the status quo. Due to the uncertain economic climate, there are many megatrends that are transforming the technology market and channels. Things like pandemic experience, demographic shifts, customer expectations, sustainability, everything-as-a-service, and more have led to a huge impact on channel marketing, including:
Technology is changing the way that partners and sourcing are done.
New types of partners are entering the channel
The rebalanced economy requires that businesses evolve.
Experience and sales should be a priority over price.
MDFs are a great way to engage your partners
MDFs, or marketing distribution funds, are resources that vendors grant to their indirect sales channel partners to aid with sales and marketing programs. For example, a partner could be credited with MDF for X amount of engagement. This MDF can be used to purchase services, add-ons, or monetary rewards. It can be used to build your business. It is important to plan, coordinate with vendors, and follow through on MDF-backed programmes.
Margolis and Murrell agree that allowing your partners to wisely spend MDF is the best investment in their business.
Margolis stated, “If a company wants a digital marketing campaign to push customers to their website but their website is difficult to navigate, that’s not helpful for anyone.”
Instead, she suggests that you look at where the company is at the moment in its journey and determine where funds would make the most impact. “If you can give [MDF] back to partners who take initiative and use it in the right manner, that’s the goal. Margolis stated that you want partners who are able to see the benefits of smart spending money for the business.
Encourage the Right Things
The “Before Times” was the only trophy. It awarded the highest sales revenue. However, there are many other aspects that go into creating a positive customer experience. Other factors, such as customer engagement, active promotion on social media, and engaging content, are proven to make a marketing qualified lead a sales qualified leads (MQL). Companies and sales teams that emphasize quality over quantity will reap the benefits.
“People do business with people, and not brands.” Murrell stated that you want to encourage the behaviors that move the needle.
Your partners can help you encourage your staff to do their best without making it a condition. How? Margolis suggests that social engagement be included in channel account manager training. This allows for more people to drive an audience than they are.
Align Content with Your Partners
It’s like enjoying the whole cupcake and not just the cherry by providing the right content for your partners throughout the sales funnel.