In this Channel Chatter series, we’ll deliver highlights from our recent interview with Heather K. Margolis, CEO of Channel Maven Consulting. You may already be familiar with Heather K. Margolis from previous Channel Chatter guest blog posts – or her thought leadership within the channel landscape. We had the opportunity to interview Heather for our Channel Visions video series. Here are a few key points from the first part of our discussion:
Q: HOW HAS THE CHANNEL CHANGED?
A: Over the last few years, the channel has changed for a couple of different reasons. Partners are more business savvy. Small and mid-sized businesses have more resources – even CRM systems and marketing automation tools. So when you say to a partner, “Here’s a ‘campaign in a box’, go market it!” That’s not as smooth or impactful as it could be. Channel partners need to have the information that they see as beneficial and that they can disseminate to end users, who are bombarded by information. Partners need social posts and help with social media in general. They need to ensure that people are coming to their website, which requires Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and domain authority. There are a lot of different things that partners need today that they didn’t even know about five years ago.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME TRENDS IN THE VENDOR/PARTNER RELATIONSHIP?
A: Partners today have so many choices about who they can work with today. They gravitate toward vendors that will enable and empower them – as well as vendors whose products customers are asking for. If you have a strong product and a weak program, you might get some partnership. If you have a weak product and a weak program, you’re definitely not getting these partners. Another trend is that partners are becoming much more self-sufficient with sales and marketing. With all of the different resources out there, like marketing automation tools and social media, partners can market themselves and use social selling to better engage end customers. Partners are building more of a brand for themselves and it’s important for vendors to cater to that. If you have a marketing automation tool, make sure that it integrates with your partners’ tools. Partners don’t want to log into multiple systems and portals. It’s important that partners feel like everything is streamlined for them.
Q: HOW ARE YOUR CLIENTS BETTER ENABLING THEIR PARTNERS?
A: First is education – helping partners understand all of the ins and outs of a truly integrated marketing campaign plan that includes great content as well as social selling. That’s not just for the marketing team. That’s making sure that every single sales person understands how important it is to build ethos with your audience before you start picking up the phone and calling them.
Next is engaging partners. If you’re expecting partners to use social media to drive demand with end customers, you better be using social to engage partners.
Third is enablement. That means providing partners with the tools they need to be successful, whether that’s a marketing automation tool, webinar capabilities, support for events or something else. It also means helping them with those tools by providing things like copy blocks or a campaign-in-a-box that they can use to connect with the appropriate audience. Sometimes enablement includes handholding. With just a little bit of help, growth partners can be so much more successful. Provide them with a field marketing or third-party resource who can show them, for three to six months, clear steps to be more successful.
To learn more, watch Part 1 of our Channel Visions interview with Heather here.
About Heather Margolis, CEO, Channel Maven: Heather has led channel programs for companies like EMC, EqualLogic and Dell. She helps channel organizations build smarter channel programs, manage channel relationships to find added value, and engage their communities through social and traditional media.