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In today’s oversaturated channel environment, suppliers must enable partners collaboratively with both sales and marketing tactics to create true value. As a Senior Manager of Channel Engagement at Zift Solutions, I’ve had the advantage of working with many different channel programs over the years and have seen what does and doesn’t work. Simply signing up a channel partner then expecting their participation and success in promoting or selling your products won’t cut it.

Below are just a few steps that can help make your channel partner’s marketing more effective, boost overall program buy-in, and increase channel marketing generated pipeline.

Deliver the right content

Poll the partners Spend time creating content that partners will use. There’s simply no better way to gauge interest than to ask your partners what they’re trying to promote and sell. Doing this will allow for better alignment to partner sales and marketing goals.

Consider the buyer’s journey – Tailor campaign plays to target personas, and support their buyer’s journey.  Make these campaign plays pre-packaged and easily digestible for your partners. You are the marketing expert.

Prescribe and complement a partner marketing strategy Talk to partners about their marketing calendar. This will allow you to influence and prepare campaigns in advance for their upcoming initiatives while creating a more personal, productive partnership. Your campaigns should always be adding value to a partner’s business goals.

Promote the partner

Expand campaign customization – Lead strongly or only with partner branded campaigns. Heavy supplier branding results in a loss of partner identity, a confusing experience for buyers, and emails that look like an advertisement.  Give your partners a voice by letting them easily customize all campaign messaging and co-branded assets.

Align with partner go-to-market strategy  Most partners are focused on solution selling so it’s important to understand where your products fit within their sales cycle. By delivering content focused more around fixing a business problem, partners are better equipped and more likely to use your campaigns in their go-to market strategy.

Close the loop

Sales enablement – Educating a partner’s sales team is an invaluable and frequently forgotten step in executing a successful campaign. Include cheat sheets, campaign overviews, playbooks, call scripts, battle cards, PowerPoint presentations, whitepapers, case studies and data sheets in every campaign. If sales is knowledgeable on how to follow-up on campaign leads their lead conversion rate will be much higher.

Opportunity reporting – Associating actual partner dollars to a channel marketing campaign is the magic bullet. There are lots of great tools to get this information efficiently including connecting to a partner CRM or closed loop email workflows to get automatic updates. If you don’t have access to a tool to help, then a more manual partner check-in is still recommended to track pipeline. If you position tracking opportunity information as mutually beneficial, the information will be obtained easily.

Target the right partners for your program up front and put yourself in their shoes. Define your program goals and idea of successful participation, then make sure partners are aligned before any engagement. Picking the right partners up front and enabling them to be successful will give you the program KPIs you’re looking for, and alleviate a lot of future pain.