Channel partners have become more diverse than ever, making it hard to rely on one or two profiles to build an effective support and coverage model. This diversity only grows as you move further down the list of channel partners until you reach the bottom tier, where most vendors see the mix of high diversity and low revenue potential as a reason to write off any support beyond a portal or website. If you want to capture significant long tail revenue, you need to avoid generic messaging and give partners effective communication that fits their specific needs.
Appropriately building and driving diverse outbound communication will drive inbound actions. These smaller profiled partners are often relegated to exclusively on-line support from the vendor’s partner portal or inbound Help Desk support. For this to work, the partner has to inherently know what they need, where to get it, and be self-sufficient in navigating the vendor’s content and programs.
Often the strategy becomes: don’t give rep-level support to smaller or inactive partners because they’re not growing. Partners get relegated to self-serve support and therefore don’t get the support they need to incubate their business. So, they don’t grow. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As with end-user lead nurturing, a smart balance of field, phone, and digital communication methods provides the most effective profiling and partner prospect development process. This balance, fed by highly targeted inbound marketing content, creates a winning combination, as long as you consider two important points;
- These communication vehicles must be fed by a centralized partner profiling system
- The content should be tailored to look like the messages are personalized
Email messages, reports, research content and even product information (when the time is right) can be formatted and personalized as if they are coming from the vendor’s sales rep. This goes a long way toward creating the personal dialog necessary to get a partner to engage and begin a real relationship with your company.
All relationships begin with some level of attraction or interest. In today’s information-on-demand world, partners can (and do) conduct a lot of research on potential suppliers and their products or services well before any direct outreach is attempted. This means vendors must serve up the right information at the right time with the right engagement offer when addressing their target solution providers. You can do this through several vehicles including:
- Blog Posts
- Social Messaging
- Personalized E-mails (Delivered via an automated marketing platform)
- Website / Portal Downloads (Whitepapers, eBooks, Spec Sheets, etc.)
An enormous amount of decision making is being made on-line, and that same web-based delivery method provides the most cost effective delivery vehicle for your content. However, when forging a long-term business relationship based on mutual trust and investment, people need to identify and talk to people. Vendors who provide regular communication, are proactive, stay involved in the relationship, and meet often are considered by partners to be invested in their success and more deserving of their business.
Ultimately, partners want a vendor who is involved and supports them at multiple levels, and values their commitment as much as the partner values the vendor, and you can’t do that if you don’t communicate with them in a way that they understand and expect.