Channel Maven Consulting
Channel Maven Consulting

Who is Channel Maven Consulting?

Call us crazy. We’ll admit, we’re a little off our rocker with passion for making channel marketing teams succeed. That’s just what happens when you get a team of strategic channel experts working to understand individual client’s channel marketing and communications goals. What we really want is for you to see what happens when we help drive more effective relationships “to” and “through” your partners. LEARN MORE »

From Our Blog

Engaging Partners You Want to Recruit & Managing Those You Have

by Channel Maven on July 14, 2014

Alright, so you’ve got your highly targeted and profiled list of 1,000 partners using the “Channel Partner Recruiting Model,” we talked about in our last blog post. Now, how do you make sure that you engage them in order to recruit them?  How will you manage those recruited partners that warrant such attention?

Engaging Channel Partners

What do you need to do to convince an ideal channel partner to choose your company or product over all the other alternatives? This will be based on a variety of things, among them: the size and types of partners, your value proposition, partner program details, financial modeling, third-party validation and channel partner proposition, etc.

Ask yourself this: what do you have that you can bring to the table? Remember that you need to SELL potential partners on working with you.  Why should they take time out of the field to train on your solutions, to learn your value proposition, to navigate your resources?  If there isn’t a longer term benefit, they won’t.

Let’s talk about managing partners in order to build successful business relationships.

Managing Channel Partners

How can we determine which partners to focus on? We asked Carlos Blanco, of Pigs on the Roof, for a little insight. “Managing partners is extremely important; it builds a systematic trust and cooperation in order to successfully drive revenue. This is reliant on the type of partner and the relative importance of that partner to you. The best way we can do this is break it down into 4 tiers to better evaluate:”

Tier 1 This is the primary focus tier; contact with partners in this tier would be at an average frequency of two times per month. 

Characteristics of these partners:

      • You have a high ability to influence
      • Expected high ROI
      • Their business model mirrors your ideal partner profile

Tier 2- This is the secondary focus tier; contact with these partners would be at an average frequency of one time per month.

Characteristics of these partners:

      • Have some limiting factors that may include: size, credit capacity, etc.
      • There is potential for long-term ROI
      • Their immediate impact and influence and significantly less that Tier 1 accounts

Tier 3- This is the tertiary tier; possible contact with these partners would be at an average frequency of one time per quarter, mainly via e-contact.

Characteristics of these partners:

      • Their business models are not complimentary to yours
      • They will have little impact on your sales

Putting it into Play

1.  Ask, understand and adjust: take a good look at partners, competitor partners and customers, and see what changes can be made and where. Here are some examples of main criteria to consider when selecting a network supplier:

      1. Price
      2. Quality and reliability of products
      3. Pre and post-sales support
      4. Customer service

2. Field vs. Inside Sales: How do you decide if you should visit or call? This depends on the number and types of partners. Let’s take a look at this broken down into 4 tiers based off of revenue producing partners:

The critical decision is to determine how best to manage partners and what resources to use in order to maximize results vs. potential.

Before doing anything, begin with the data.  Intelligent, data-driven channel  management is about making smart decisions about what you are already spending or planning to spend, rather than spending more. Take a serious look at the numbers and see what you can adjust without adjusting your budget.

With data in hand, the first step is determining the type of management to be provided:  Field vs. Inside Sales.  This decision depends on the number and types of partners.  Let’s take a look at this, broken down into 4 tiers according to revenue producing partners.

3. Insource vs. Outsource: When deciding whether to insource or outsource, it is important to first review the business needs that will drive the final choice.

  • Some of the benefits of Insourcing are the product knowledge only your team can attain.  They also know how and where to get answers to questions partners may have and how to navigate your proprietary knowledge like pricing, discounts, and procedures.  There’s also more control over the brand, your internal people have the same loyalty to your brand, and can “sell the kool-aid,” so to speak.  Your internal team has a vested interest in making sure the relationship with the partner is solid and that the benefits of partnering, specifically with you, are measurable.
  • If Outsourcing is the way to go, you want to be sure you choose a contractor or agency with specific knowledge of the channel that is quick to learn your value propositions for your program and your solutions.  While sometimes it may seem silly to outsource something so important, keep in mind, the people you’re outsourcing to know nothing better than recruiting and enabling partners.  In the long run it can also be more cost effective to outsource so you’re not bringing on an entire team to manage something that may only be necessary for a short time.  Also think about what should be outsourced: data analytics, targeting, engagement, management, field sales, inside sales

Key Takeaways

In today’s highly competitive IT environment, it is important to have a well thought-out and executed channel strategy. By focusing on and analyzing the data, using the budget and resources you already have, paying attention to your partners and your competitors, and combining insourced and outsourced resources; you can engage and manage partners in the most effective and intelligent way best promote your channel.

Thank you again to Carlos Blanco for walking us through recruiting, engaging and managing partners.

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Linkedin Premium- Is this Upgrade Worth the Cost

by channelmaven on July 10, 2014

In this technology driven world, it seems like there is a new social media tool or upgrade out every month! If you work in the business or marketing world, keeping on top of these tools and how they can make your company and everyday work life easier, is very important. One example of these beneficial and popular social media tools, is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn also has an upgrade, “LinkedIn Premium,” that we get asked about all the time.  Premium adds a monthly fee and some extra tools in your toolbox. The cost of this ranges from $19.95 – $49.95 a month, from the least expensive tier to the top Job Seeker Premium account. This leaves us with the question- Is this upgrade really worth the monthly fee when you can still access LinkedIn, (less these extra additions), for free?

First, you need to think about a few things: Am I looking for prospects or clients? Am I looking to fill an open position? Do I outsource this search to a recruiter?

LinkedIn Premium Pic

Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros of this upgrade and how they relate to your everyday tasks and long-term goals.

Pros for People Looking to Connect with Prospects or Customers/Clients:

  • Send personalized inMail message to anyone, allowing hiring managers to directly contact prospective employees, regardless of if connections are established.
    • InMail reaches as much as 44% of contacts, surpassing typical email efforts.
    • InMail is a very proactive and quick way to contact leads and establish an introduction rather than waiting to be connected.
  • See more detailed profile data for everyone in the extended network, regardless of connections, including: past employment, contact information and full names.
  • For some companies, this more detailed search tool can cut out the middle-man recruiting position.

One thing to remember, is that it is possible to grow your reach and connections organically. By being active on LinkedIn, joining different groups that share your interests, and liking companies you are interested in or would like to work for, all can also expand your reach on LinkedIn. LinkedIn Premium, in a way, offers a short cut to doing this, so you don’t have to have formed all these connections before being able to establish contact or send an InMail message. However, without the upgrade, this type of contact is still possible and just takes some good old time and a little effort.

Pros for People looking to Fill a Position:

  • Send personalized inMail message to anyone on LinkedIn, regardless if you share connections or not, including prospective employees who may be in a similar position.
  • View all information on anyone who has viewed your profile in the last 90 days, including how they found you. This can be a great way to determine who to contact that is interested in you or your company.
  • Access to beneficial data including: other jobs by salary range and individual job details.

In short, LinkedIn Premium allows you to break out of the confines of waiting for mutual connections to be contacted, or to get in contact, which could make all the difference in the world. If you are a company or hiring manager looking for prospective clients or employees, LinkedIn Premium can cut out some of intermediary research work with the detail search tool and increased mail contact rate with InMail.

Keep in mind some people may feel InMail is another route to spam, and so may be less interested in connecting if that’s your first contact.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the LinkedIn Premium cost is worth or outweighs the benefits? Comment below and let us know!

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Channel Partner Recruitment Challenged? Learn from the Experts How to Recruit Partners for the Longterm

by Channel Maven on June 24, 2014

Looking to recruit partners for the long term? How can you make sure your channel partner recruitment strategy is working? How do you know if you will be a good fit for one another? With mobility, technology and access to recruitment resources, answering these questions is easier than ever. So why are you still having trouble narrowing your list of potential recruits or finding great fits? We weren’t sure either, so we asked the partner recruitment expert.

Carlos Blanco, Managing Director of Pigs on the Roof, introduces us to a recruitment strategy that will help you narrow that list of potential recruits to a short quality list, rather than just one big mess. “Cleaning up lists of potential partners can be time consuming. It’s not that these partners are bad ones necessarily, but rather that they aren’t a good fit for your program or you are missing something and aren’t connecting with them in the right way. But you might be missing out if they are selling millions of a competitor’s product.”

Capability Calculations:

 Let’s start by looking at a capacity calculation. This is a fundamental activity that should be done before any recruitment activity takes place. The purpose of this activity is to determine the number of partners actually needed. There are other factors to account for too, such as produce lines, customer buying preferences, geography, types of partners, and understanding that not all partners are equal; but let’s begin with this basic “Capacity Calculation” to get you started:

Capacity Calculation

Remember that this calculation is just numerical, only showing how many partners you need and does not say anything about the “right” partners needed.

Got your number of partners needed? Great! Now we can start the funneling process to target potential partners.

Here’s What You Need to Do:

Target: Define the types and number of partners you need

Engage: This is critical! Pick up the phone and reach out to the right people, contact those partners that are the best fit – sell value proposition: your company, solutions and programs

Manage: Maximize the value. Actively work with and support those partners that can yield great results for you.

Targeting Process

Finding the right partners begins with taking input like your products, customer targets and markets you want to enter, among other variables.  Historically, this process yields roughly 5%, in terms of a prioritized list of partners that match your ideal partner profile—i.e., those you want in your program.   Let’s start!

1.    Create a list:

Start with roughly 20,000 records that you rent, buy, build, or any combination of these.

Your list is probably pretty long now- let’s get it down from ~20,000 to about 1,000 prioritized partners for engagement, with a goal of 100 partners to end up recruiting.

2.    Review this list:

Check any quality issues with the list and delete any bad records i.e. duplicates, no company name, etc.

3.    Profile:

Start to collect basic and profile data via the web. You can also add specific project data.

4.    Target:

The best and most complete entries of those partners profiled.

5.    Prioritize:

This is the final target list according to projects, engagements, etc. and also servers as input for the engagement phase. Let’s look into this in more detail:

Determining Partner Quality

These are the how’s and what’s, and will allow you to see if these potential partners are in line with those qualifications and qualities you want.  After this step, these are the contacts that will meet all criteria and are ready to be contacted.

What they sell:

-  Custom software or hardware products, cloud services, components and accessories? This is their business model; push capabilities versus pull requirements.

How they sell:

-  Is it outbound or inbound?

-  Field sales?

-  Store front?

Who they sell to:

- Enterprise, vertical, specialty, SMB.

Where they sell:

-  Are they selling locally? Regional? Single or multi-country? Globally?

Their relative size:

-  How big are they as a whole? How big are they for you versus your competitors? How big are they in the market for the product or segments of interest?

RESULTS

So what do we get out of this funneling process? Historically, there will be 1,000 or fewer ideal contacts at the end of this process. Sounds much better than the 20,000 random or so that you started with, huh? Great!

Interested in better engaging and managing your new partners? Check out next week’s blog post!

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Relax! 5 Suggestions for Making Your Video More Authentic by Being Yourself

by Channel Maven on June 18, 2014

We all have that friend, client or partner who is the life of the party but put a camera in front of them and it’s ummmmmmmm….  Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s your CEO? And it’s totally fine, but here are 5 suggestions for making your video more authentic by being yourself:

  1. Change the focus:  One thing we love doing is offsetting the camera with an interviewer, like this example with Shelley White, Director of Technology and Attendee Services of The Performance GroupIf the subject is looking to the left or right of the camera at an interviewer they are comfortable with, they will be more at ease.  This creates more of a conversation with the other person and takes off some of the pressure of the camera.
  2. Jump Around. Jump! Jump!  Don’t worry I won’t start rapping. Get out of your seat and jump up and down, or do the running man, or downward facing dog.  Whatever gets your blood flowing and makes you feel a little silly.  Getting blood flow releases endorphins which improves your mood and makes you relax (previous statement not approved by a doctor, but it works for me!) Being silly will also help you loosen up a bit.
  3. Take it down a notch:  Related to the first suggestion but taking it yet another level, make the video more casual itself.  Instead of lights and a script, make it a truly authentic back and forth conversation.  Have speaking notes but don’t follow them to the word.  Don’t worry as much about the output. This is great practice for working up to full on professional videos.  Laugh, joke, have fun with it! The occasional stutter or pause to think is natural and will make you seem more authentic on camera.
  4. Take a Chill Pill:  No I’m not prescribing drugs, but there are natural ways you can calm your nerves a bit.  L-Theanine is an amino acid used for its antioxidant and relaxant effects, and can be found in chamomile tea and these chocolates. If there’s something else that works for you like green tea or warm milk, make sure you have it on hand before recording.
  5. Watch and Learn:  Along the way, listen to your recording.  I know we all hate listening to our own voice but it’s important to hear how you’re coming off.  Are you too stoic or sound like you’re reading?  Better to figure it out a few minutes in then to have recorded the entire thing.  If you realize you aren’t coming off as authentic go back to steps 1-4.

What else can you do to relax on camera? We’d love to hear your feedback.

Disclaimer: Chocolate company mentioned above is founded by a family member of the Channel Maven Consulting team.

 

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“Our partners are more engaged and doing measurable demand generation…the marketing guidance that the Channel Maven team has provided our partners is priceless.” Read more>>
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