Within the new Channel paradigm where Vendors compete for Partner mindshare while Partners work only with Vendors who “show them the love,” we constantly address one of the most pressing questions for Vendors:
How can Vendors Improve Partner Relationships?
Each year we work with Vendors and thousands of their Channel Partners. In doing so we help build successful Channels, mentor and educate Partners on marketing best practices, and assist Channel Managers and other Channel professionals on how to effectively market to and through Partners. Our expertise spans the gamut from Channel sales and strategy to marketing communication plan execution to social media engagement best practices and everything in-between.
For Vendors grappling with this question, we asked our team for input:
Q: Based on Channel Maven Vendor projects, what one thing can Vendors do to improve Channel Partner relationships or help Partners with marketing tactics and strategy?
Time is key
I know this isn’t the answer you want - but - there is not just “one thing.” Every Vendor and every Channel Partner is different. So, the answer is: Vendors must remember there are no cookie cutter shortcuts with Partners. They have to invest time into each Partner, learn their capabilities regardless of tier and understand their resources and strategy, even if only at a high level.
We interview Partners when we begin working with them to determine where they are in their marketing strategy. It’s part of what we do and do well. However, we find when the Vendor has already addressed this before we get involved, there is a better and tighter Vendor-Partner relationship and Partners feel more supported.
In other words; Vendors who have taken a true vested interest in their Partner's investment and their business plan by learning about their organization at a deeper level are better equipped to get the most out of custom marketing engagements.
MDF and co-op strategy
Vendors offer co-op or MDF funds for co-marketing with Partners. Often, they go unused because Partners don't have resources, time, or knowledge of what to do and where to begin. The challenge comes in how effective the Partners are in utilizing these funds and it’s the Vendors who meet with Partners virtually, customize MDF opportunities based on what works best for the Partner’s company, and develop strategies and tactics to enable them to achieve their goals who are earning Partner mindshare.
We’ve learned; Partners who want to use MDF to put on a golf event aren’t filling the funnel whereas Partners who want to drive demand via social selling, execute an integrated marketing plan or improve online engagement need a little more hand holding. Make sure there’s a mix of offering and that Partners get the support they need, not just the funds.
Education and mentoring
Vendors often have software, portals and other means to support their Partners in executing marketing tactics and strategy. However, in many cases, the Vendor may be bombarding Partners with emails so the information about resources and tools gets lost, leaving Partners feeling left in the dark without the time necessary to fiddle around and figure out one more platform.
When Vendors have a required onboarding process that is available on-demand with videos and tools to teach Partners how to capitalize on available resources and enforce education as part of the onboarding process, Partners engage more with their tools. In absence of that, Vendors that have staff walk Partners through the resources once a year save time and increase Partner enablement.
Also, a recurring issue for Partners is not being able to staff a marketing person fulltime so, having step-by-step, bite size video guides in addition to a mandatory onboarding course, helps them build effective sales and marketing strategy with the resources they have on hand. From the Partner point of view, access to education to build their awareness on Vendor provided marketing resources gives them freedom to self-serve marketing tactics and boosts their marketing confidence.
Looking for more information about how to better engage your Channel Partners, contact us, we're happy to help!