“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell
At SiriusDecisions Summit 2019, I introduced Kerstin Demko, North America Director of Partner Marketing, to a room packed with fellow channel leaders excited to learn how Sage’s world-class channel program prepares for success. For the 100+ attendees, she modeled leadership, showing how she is cultivating successful partners with intentional, layered marketing programs across North America for Sage.
As she discussed her journey leading partners through a digital transformation, she opened her presentation with this message:
‘Change is about action.
Transformation is about cultivating belief.’
Helping partners adopt funnel-filling best practices was clearly not easy. Many partner organizations first needed to understand Sage’s changing business model, transitioning to the cloud.
Working with partners on the changing model required intentional sales and marketing enablement. Referring to a 2018 PartnerPath State of the Partner survey, she reminded her peers that the cloud requires partners to adapt to new business models. Regardless, many partners are not adopting cloud fast enough, though the data clearly shows that the most progressive partners are diversifying and excelling in sales.
The Sage team had two imperatives: 1) Partners need to learn to market and sell solutions (not just products), and 2) Partners need to transform their business to the cloud. In light of the changing channel, Kerstin described the 4 intentional steps that helped shape the actions and beliefs of the partners within the Sage program.
Understand your Audience / Start with the Data: The data revealed that most channel partners, with the exception of the largest, have a limited digital presence and limited marketing expertise. Why? Most of the Sage resellers are SMBs that built their business on technology sales with Sage, not needing to focus on reaching new buyers for new solutions. They did not possess the digital marketing expertise required to create new demand for cloud solutions. In fact, 84% of the partners did not have a dedicated marketing resource. And finally, only 50% of their reselling partners had a plan to move to the cloud — with 42% of the partners admitting they didn’t know where to start. While the statistics were not pretty, they set the baseline for the sales and marketing enablement efforts.
Educate your Channel on the Buyer’s Journey: To start the change process, Kerstin’s team focused on teaching the channel partners to understand the buyer’s journey and the critical importance of creating awareness and interest. Partners learned to understand the funnel and understand how buyers evaluate solutions at specific stages in the selling journey. This literacy supported the next steps.
Deliver Content to Support the Buyer’s Journey: Kerstin’s team then focused on creating content for partners through a technology platform to support the marketing and selling efforts at each stage in the buyer’s journey with a range of tools and campaigns to help buyers understand challenges and to commit to the result.
The team supported the program with prepared campaigns, including prepackaged marketing plays, a campaign marketplace as the home for the campaigns, and Sage-sponsored concierge services. The campaigns included multi-touch marketing plays with content including top-of-funnel landing pages; eBooks and articles; social posts and banner ads; nurture emails and landing pages; and nurture content, such as guides and checklists. This type of content preparation and delivery requires a deep understanding of the buyers and a deep understanding of the partners.
Track Results: Finally, the evidence of the changing channel is revealed in the data. The layered approach of training, packaging campaigns and supporting transformation with a platform for delivering campaigns delivered significant results, including closed deals resulting from a lift in Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).
As a change agent at Sage, Kerstin continues to lead by aligning people, changing processes and providing further support with tools and solutions that simplify internally and externally. The results in her program are transformational.
About Kerstin Demko
Kerstin serves as the North America Director of Partner Marketing for Sage. With Sage for five years, she is responsible for driving innovation, demand generation, and setting strategic direction to enable partner success. Kerstin is recognized as an industry leader and was recently honored by The Channel Company as a 2019 Woman of the Channel for her commitment to partner success.