In this blog post we’re looking at partner enablement, and particularly at through partner demand generation. This is the final part of our four-part series on partner recruitment and sales activation.
In the previous three blogs we looked at how to target opportunity partners, how to engage partners to generate intent, and how to nurture partners to get to commitment. We said that for every $1 that a vendor spends on targeting and engagement, they must plan on spending $1.25 on nurture. If you don’t invest the $1.25 in nurture then in effect you’re throwing away a good deal of the $1 you invested in the list build and outreach phase. The same applies to marketing enablement. At bChannels we estimate that the same amount of investment is required in partner marketing enablement as is required in nurture, another $1.25. In other words, for every $1 spent on list build and outreach, spend $1.25 on nurture, and spend another $1.25 on partner marketing enablement.
Why Partner Enablement?
Finding the right in-profile partner and getting them to commit to working with you is not the end of the process. The partner needs your support as a vendor to ‘kick start’ their demand generation process and grow business for your brand.
For some sales executives this can seem counter intuitive. Don’t we recruit partners so that they can find business for us and grow our reach to new customers? Why would we do it for them?
The answer to this, quite simply, is in the word ‘partnership’. It’s give and take, and involves collaboration. The old idea of ‘dealers’ who are licensed to sell a vendor’s brand and who are then left to develop business for themselves is ineffective and outdated. Forrester in their Blog Are You Prepared For the Future of B2B Buying In the Channel has noted changes to B2B buying that, whilst different to consumer, are affecting the expectations in B2B. Future B2B buyers will expect vendors and partners to be better connected to shared goals. Vendors and partners must work together to satisfy buyer needs.
It’s the vendor’s responsibility to educate partners, providing resources and tools that enable a partner to succeed when it comes to end customer demand generation. As we’ve said above, if the vendor doesn’t invest in this, then they are throwing away some of their investment in finding partners and in gaining the partner’s commitment.
What is Partner Enablement?
Partners will benefit from vendor support at every stage in the new business process. That can be help to target and identify end customer targets, help with content to generate leads, and presales support to design solutions and close sales.
The partner will always own the process. The vendor is providing support and enablement resources to make it easy for the partner to succeed. Let’s look at some examples.
Customer Targeting: To help partners target and identify customers a vendor might offer learnings on end customer personas, and access to tools to assess market opportunity. The vendor might provide support to build a sales and marketing strategy.
Partner Marketing: To help generate leads a vendor might offer packaged marketing content around specific solutions and buyers, which can be customised by the partner. The vendor might provide tools or resources to set up landing sites, or social media content.
Influencing and Closing Sales: To help design solutions and close sales a vendor might provide sales training, and access to content libraries with sales tools for partner sales teams to use with customers. They might also work alongside partners to build proof of concept solutions.
All of the above and more fall into the category of partner enablement.
Partner Marketing: Segmentation, Funding and Delivery
At bChannels we focus our clients on three key aspects of partner marketing enablement, which together provide a roadmap for driving end customer leads through partners:
SEGMENTATION Segment the partner audience based on their digital marketing capability. An assessment of the partner’s marketing capabilities is important, for example, before support for lead generation campaigns is offered. Partners with strong marketing capability might need only content and templates. Partners with less capability might need hands on guidance and training.
FUNDING Validate the funding model for the proposed activities to be offered to partners. Are activities to be funded through MDF? If so, are there ways to streamline the MDF claim process to minimise process friction and therefore to maximise partner take up? What types of activity will be funded and what measures of success will be required in order to assess ROI?
DELIVERY Some companies offer a portfolio of partner enablement resources through a ‘Marketplace’, an online catalogue of resources and tools. Many companies overlay ‘Concierge’ programs, with marketing specialists calling out to partners to promote digital marketing activities and to support execution. Generally, the uptake of marketing activities by partners will be low if concierge resources are not in place.
bChannels supports our clients in these areas through our Digital Partners service. This enables vendors to analyse their current partner base, and quickly identify the partners that are already digitally capable. Vendors can quickly discover which partners are ready to incorporate and amplify their brand, and can be targeted with packaged marketing content and trackable lead generation tactics that are quick and simple to deploy.