There was a time, not too long ago, when we thought we could automate almost everything in the partner marketing world. AI-driven campaigns could be rolled out and deliver meaningful, measurable results at the touch of a button or two. It’s fair to say expectations for marketing automation got a little ahead of reality.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve learned a lot about the possibilities and limitations of automation – and recognized the importance of the human connection in all we do.
The vendor–partner relationship is vital to the success of any through-channel marketing effort. A healthy relationship is built on trust and understanding of each other’s needs and ways of working.
Automation takes very good care of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of this relationship, but can never replace the human connection that really helps through-channel campaigns sing.
This issue was highlighted by recent research conducted by The Next Gen Sales Academy, which found that some 60% of channel salespeople among VARs, resellers and MSPs are finding virtual selling a challenge. The study also found that 40% of channel sales teams have reported a negative impact on sales since the pandemic started.
So how do we build and nurture a human connection when traditional business relationship-building activities are off the table and we rely on more virtual interactions? What does a successful vendor–channel relationship look like in this increasingly digital world?
Successful vendors, like Oracle, put themselves in their customers’ shoes and understand their pain-points to engage with them at a human level. How can we apply the expertise and knowledge gained from handling the customer journey successfully to the vendor–channel relationship?
• start by prioritizing partners based on their capabilities and commitment to the brand, based on a combination of existing partner data and an external assessment. The resulting partner capability matrix can be used to both drive quick wins and improve the long-term business relationship.
• provide multi-level, multifaceted connections to partners, along with a consultative, advisory approach where needed – partners need to feel valued.
• ensure partners are well supported in delivering effective digital programs, with customizable, customer-focused content, and account-based marketing.
A key way bChannels supports our clients in this area is 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.