Posted: October 16th, 2013 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Channel Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: channel, channel chiefs, channel enablement, channel marketing, partners | No Comments »
It’s 2014 planning time for many channel organizations. Many of our channel clients are looking for insights and best practices that will help guide their 2014 sales enablement and marketing budgets. Here’s our thoughts on three “channel changers” that can help guide channel enablement spending in 2014.
1. Role-based enablement critical to deeper partner integration
Successful channel organizations will include enablement resources that span all roles across their partner base. That means marketing, services, finance and even executive roles will receive customized enablement tracks based on their roles in positioning, selling and support solutions.
We recently helped a large storage client develop role-based enablement resources to show partners how to build their cloud services offerings. We focused as much on shifting the financial practice, marketing messages and services alignment, as we did on the sales and technical implications of adding cloud services to their portfolio.
2. Marketing enablement elevates the message to the customers
Channel organizations that offer advanced marketing services are finding greater success in filling the pipeline and increasing deal close rates. Partner marketing and sales organizations should be educated on target profiles, market trends, and insights into the buying process before they even launch a specific campaign.
A Launch client that provides converged infrastructure solutions asked us to create a “campaign in a box” package that would help partners take their solution to market. Along with the outbound content and assets, we included an interactive marketing playbook that highlighted messages and questions for specific target buyers, as well as a playbook with resources and content aligned to typical buying stages.
3. Alliances enablement can make the difference
We are seeing many channel organizations getting better at positioning their solutions within their partners’ larger portfolio. That means providing the messages, tools and resources to position their offerings with their partners’ solutions—showing how to position their security solution with the partners’ cloud offerings, or explaining how a new service can add value to existing network business.
Launch strategists and writers spent much of our summer creating playbooks and battle cards that showed the best practices for integrating our leading storage supplier client’s offerings with integrator and services organizations offerings. These playbooks were used by resellers, as well as with the suppliers extended sales and channel teams.
Bonus point: CDMs are the Last Mile to Partner Enablement
All this integration across the partner business needs to be constantly reinforced and validated by the local feet-on-the-street. Local field support (by whatever name: CDM, CAM, CSM, etc) is absolutely critical to bringing the story home at the partner level.
We have several clients focusing resources and communications to helping CDMs lead and nurture partners through this integrated approach to partner enablement. These companies are creating CDM playbooks, emails, and even dedicated CDM portals to providing consistent, relevant information to channel sales managers.
Be sure to check out our channel enablement ebook, Creating a Roadmap for Channel Success with Better Content.
Posted: October 14th, 2013 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
I’ve noted an interesting shift in the sales enablement community over the past few months. We’ve always noted the importance of aligning content and sales assets with a company’s sales model. But that has mostly been a design point—we all know that the tools and resources salespeople use need to advance the customer through their buying cycle.
Not surprisingly, the stories I heard in 2011 and 2012 were still prevalent even in early 2013:
- Marketing is still creating product-focused content.
- Salespeople are still creating their own customer presentations.
- No one owns the integration of marketing assets with the buying cycle.
However, in the many sales conferences I’ve attended over the summer and fall of 2013, the breakout session topics and conversations around the hallways and exhibit centers have started focusing more and more on the execution of those strategies–especially as it relates to the sales model these companies are training salespeople on.
The furor and passion of integrating sales and marketing has finally gotten the sales and marketing communities to focus on the convergence of their company’s sales model with the messages they’re presenting our clients and the assets they’re providing customers and sellers for campaigns and conversations.
And regardless of the sales model or industry—insight is leading the way for this convergence.
Insight is about more than documenting market dynamics and purchase history; it’s about discovering and validating the reasons customer buy—or don’t buy.
Insight helps you determine the motivating factors and corporate justifications for how customers discover, qualify and decide on their investments. More often than not, it’s a complicated equation integrating budget needs, ROI and general company health. (Our friends at Alinean do some great analysis of buyer justifications in their Fight Frugalnomics story.)
Understanding those factors improves your situational relevance—the state marketers need to help sellers achieve by providing the conversation tools that leverage insight throughout the customer relationship.
We address some of these topics in our Thoughtful Selling ebook—and look for our joint webcast with Alinean on October 22, 2013 at 11am ET: Where Can You Get The Insights Needed for Provocative Selling?
Posted: October 10th, 2013 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
My channel clients know I’m a frequent and enthusiastic speaker about channel enablement topics! My goals in the channel are simple: to help channel organizations maximize their partners’ revenue opportunities through consistent, high-value enablement and marketing tools and assets.
I was fortunate to be interviewed by Alicia Fiorletta, Managing Editor of Channel Marketer Report, and got to talk about channel trends, recruiting, onboarding, sales enablement and marketing.
Take a look, and I’d love to hear your feedback!
Be sure to check out our channel enablement ebook, Creating a Roadmap for Channel Success with Better Content.
Posted: August 15th, 2013 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Channel Marketing, channel recruiting, Practice Enablement, Uncategorized | Tags: channel recruiting, channel strategy, partner recruiting, SAP channel | 1 Comment »
A recent CRN interview with SAP’s Kevin Gilroy highlighted changes in SAP’s partner recruiting strategy—with the company focusing on partners who invest in their forward-leaning solutions like cloud—as opposed to waiting for incoming revenues to invest.
That strategy is consistent with what we’ve been telling clients about strategic partner enablement—focus first on how this solution will make you money, and align resources to support long-term success.In our Channel Enablement ebook, we outlined a 5 step roadmap to helping drive greater success in your channel. The very first section focused on developing the value messaging that you’d take to the channel as part of your recruiting efforts.
Illustrating the vision and value you can deliver a partner is absolutely critical in developing a value-based channel—as opposed to depending on volume of partners who may actually cost you money to manage.
Posted: February 27th, 2013 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Launch International will once again be presenting at the Forrester Sales Enablement Forum coming up next week in Phoenix.
Along with debuting Thoughtful Selling (TM) model and our OnQ(TM) Value Conversation App, we’ll be speaking with channel enablement companies about their frameworks for partner enablement.
A more holistic, dynamic enablement strategy is needed to help partners drive services and solution revenues with your offerings at their foundation. Focusing on “practice enablement” is a way to differentiate your company from competitors with similar offerings. Moving a partner from a reseller model to “solution practice” is a huge win for your company, and can provide valuable benefits and profits for the partner.
Take a look at our Channel Enablement 2013 ebook (registration here, or email me for a copy). And we look forward to talking about partner enablement at the Forrester show!
Posted: November 30th, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
We just launched this ebook about ebooks – Always love a good Seinfeld reference.
Let’s face it–everyone has an ebook these days. To me, the challenge has always been about just throwing the name “ebook” on any old PDF, just to increase its relevance.
So this ebook about ebooks was a good way for us to take a more strategic approach to their creation–and provide a few specific paths to creating them. Instead of just rebranding a white paper or solution brief as an ebook–we put together a few ideas for compelling, interactive ebooks that start with a unique twist on content and data you may already have.
Take a look at Four Quick Routes to Cool Ebooks – I’d love to hear your feedback.
Posted: November 20th, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
We here at Launch are closing out the year with a few great ebooks over the next few weeks.
Our latest ebook–5 Tips to Bring Sales Conversations to Life—is a quick read, and is both prescriptive and actionable. It’s a great topic—and it’s even in the title of this Launch Content to Conversation blog!
And there’s no registration required…just download and read over your holiday weekend!
The idea is simple: regardless of your company’s sales model or methodology, the core of sale success is the conversations between salespeople and customers.
Whether you’re a Challenger, a Solution Seller—or even an order-taker!—you need the right content and messages to progress a customer through the buying cycle.
The 5 Tips to Bring Sales Conversations to Life ebook has ideas and best practices—along with a few examples — for how marketing, sales operations managers and sales enablement pros can create the tools and resources that help salespeople bring conversations to life.
We’d love to hear your feedback!
Posted: August 6th, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Have you ever felt desperate to “do some marketing” but unable to get it done?
Every year, 25 percent of the $1 billion in MDF available to the channel goes unclaimed and is added back to the bottom lines of vendors and distributors, according to estimates from CMP Media. How does that make you feel? If you’re frustrated but don’t know what to do it about it, you’re not alone.
Vendors and distributors don’t like wasting that money because it indicates that their programs are not as valuable or complementary as they should be. Certainly they need to know if you’re not finding value in their programs, but let’s leave that challenge for next year. Your immediate marching orders: Claim the MDF you have accrued this year and save it from reabsorption on Jan. 1.
My non-scientific survey of more than a dozen solution providers, vendors and distributors indicates that roughly 75 percent of VARs will squander some MDF this year, simply because they don’t know what they may have accrued. What an incredible waste!
I consulted for one leading VAR that successfully built a national event marketing strategy primarily on MDF. This company has a large in-house marketing team, however, and is able to dedicate staff to tracking MDF. Few partners can support the resources required to track MDF and create strategies to maximize the MDF use. That’s when you need to rely on automated tools and resources provided by your vendor or distributor. Or at the very least, lean on your regional channel manager to find out what funds are available.
MDF exists to help build channel revenue, so most vendors are only interested in supporting initiatives that can directly drive sales. That means brochures, Web sites and other broad messages aren’t likely to be covered. Vendors are more likely to fund programs with maximum revenue potential.
Through my experience with organizations on all sides of the channel, I’ve developed a list of marketing initiatives that you could execute this year to optimize your MDF opportunity.
- Awareness: Print, e-mail and telemarketing campaigns that target a specific market with a clear message are the best way to spend this year’s funds and deliver the greatest chance for reimbursement. The campaigns could help you kick off next year with a bang.
- Briefs: Reports showing executives the business-level benefits of a technology solution are valuable—and more likely to be read. Remember, be long on vision and short on spin. They can also be great payoffs to your demand gen campaigns—and the development will fit into your budget for next year’s delivery.
- Case studies: Customer successes are the perfect answer to prospects who say “prove it” to your claims. Providing an past success with a similar solution gives the perfect validation that you can do what you say you can do.
By the way, vendors and distributors seem perfectly willing to work with partners who still have MDF available and want to spend it this year. In the words of one availability management software channel manager, “I love to help our partners spend free money!”
Posted: June 22nd, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Channel Marketing, Content Development, Content Strategy, Practice Enablement, Sales Enablement | No Comments »
One of the greatest marketing/sales disconnects in direct organizations is how demand gen campaign activity integrates with sales process. It is surprisingly common for marketing organizations to report that salespeople are simply unaware of the campaigns taking place around them and how those efforts could impact and enhance interactions with their customers and prospects.
This disconnect is especially magnified in the channel fundamentally because of how campaigns are funded: Most campaign budgets come from a product or solution silo, and the monies support the campaign through the process of delivering leads to a partner. That partner is then left to carry each lead to a sale. That’s like running a relay where the first leg runs at top speed straight to the second leg, passes the baton, but the second leg is wearing blindfolds. Despite running at great speed, the second leg is never quite sure if he/she is headed in the right direction.
Campaigns without corresponding enablement are particularly great for “low-hanging fruit” deals. But in today’s economy where sales cycles are longer, marketers must employ multi-touch campaigns that recognize where buyer’s are in their journeys and include sellers in the process. In fact, aligning campaigns with buying/selling processes is a major imperative for channel organizations focused on enablement strategies, and it is forcing vendors and LOB managers to rethink budget allocations. Here are five easy-to-include works that extend campaigns into usable tools for sellers:
- Campaign Value Briefs provide partners with an overview of the campaign, key campaign messages, and a map of sales process and assets across the entire campaign lifecycle. It also identifies available tools and resources for partners to leverage at every step of the buyer and seller journey.
- Correspondence Packs provide sellers with a series of communications that can be personalized for emails or letters to their target audiences. These “Very Important Top Officer” (VITO) assets leverage great solution information and reach prospects in a way that is continuous, relevant and prompts an increased sense of urgency for them to act.
- Conversation Guides help sellers recognize what kinds of conversations belong at various points of the sales cycle, based on what their prospect is saying. For example, introductory scripts can help partners zero in on specific business challenges customers may be experiencing. White board conversations often provide the venue for a more interactive discussion where visuals reinforce key points.
- Customizable One-Pagers help sellers leverage campaign-specific thought leadership and collateral assets in more digestible format. They serve two great benefits: Sellers have a reason to stay in touch with the prospect over time, and prospects have immediate access to information they can share across their organizations when a seller isn’t present. Remember, prospect organizations have more decision influencers than ever…sellers cannot be everywhere.
- Proof Templates help partners create their own examples of success that can be weaved into their selling process. By showing partners how to turn their own case studies into simple statements that can be used as part of a larger conversation, partners have “at your fingertips” validation for campaign messages/offers.
Considering that 40% of solution providers have not standardized or documented a specific selling methodology, it’s no small job to create tools that help sellers across an undocumented course. We’ve spent countless hours hosting workshops for partners on various topics from messaging and sales process alignment to teaching partners how to whiteboard, and these are some of the things they tell us they need:
- A reason to stay in touch, flyers and one-pagers
- Business-focused conversation starters and diagnostic questions
- Case studies
- Email content
- Proposal language
- Objection handling
If your campaigns are being measured on closed deals, perhaps it’s time to enable your partners with a targeted mix of assets and resources aligned with the sales process.
Posted: June 21st, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Channel Marketing, Content Development, Content Strategy, Practice Enablement, Sales Enablement | No Comments »
The concept of “practice enablement” has started to get some attention at channel events I’m attending (if only because I’m encouraging the conversations)!
Getting above traditional onboarding and training—and encouraging a more holistic, dynamic enablement strategy to help partners drive services and solution revenues with your offerings at their foundation—is attractive to the channel organizations I’m speaking to.
Focusing on practice enablement is a way to differentiate your company from competitors with similar offerings. Moving a partner from a reseller model to “solution practice” is a huge win for your company, and can provide valuable benefits and profits for the partner.
I typically talk about these topics from a content perspective; how are you providing the market vision and value leadership that will help partners develop their practices? How are you looking beyond the next sale or the next quarter’s targets to build a sustainable, growing practice?
Many channel organizations make the mistake of taking the product to market first, and not putting the partner in the forefront. Your company has likely already done the work to position the product in the marketplace (market need, value prop, etc). It’s the channel organization’s job to make it relevant to the partner and illustrate the overall value message to the partner, and encourage the investment required to really succeed with your solutions.
We put together this graphic as the baseline for our upcoming ebook, Content Strategies for the Channel Landscape. We’ll dive deeper into each section, and provide some actionable information around how channel organizations can achieve these goals.
Looking forward to further discussion and development around practice enablement and channel enablement overall.