‘Through Partner’marketing has been established for some years as a key pillar in a successful vendor-partner relationship. The vendor supports the partner to run demand generation campaigns and create leads for the vendor’s offer. It’s usually a combination of financial support – in the form of Market Development Funds – plus content and resources to run campaigns. Most vendors do this.
‘To Partner’ is less discussed but is in fact just as important as Through Partner. To Partner is about mutual interest and mindshare. It’s about how the vendor persuades the partner to buy and keep buying their products. In fact, without effective To Partner activity, vendors will fail to maximise ROI on Through Partner investments.
What does it take to run successful To Partner activity, and how does it contribute to the growth of channel partner revenue?.
Mutual Interest and Mindshare are the two key focus areas for To Partner activity. Mindshare is impossible without Mutual Interest, so Mutual Interest comes first. Mutual Interest is about who and why.
Imagine you’ve been asked to build a cross-functional team of five people in your business to undertake a project, perhaps to look at staff retention. You’re going to need some time from various member of staff from around the business. There will be regular meetings and tasks to undertake.
You’re likely to do two things. First, you’ll think about who exactly needs to be involved and why. Second, you’ll pull together some thoughts on the importance of the project, to convince them to give their time. They have plenty of other things to do. You are deciding on the who and why.
It would of course make no sense at all to immediately call up five random people and try to recruit them to your project. You are unlikely to convince them to be part of it, and even if you did, they are probably not the right people. Nobody would do it that way.
Yet many vendors do in fact do it that way when it comes to channel partnerships. They jump immediately to mindshare activities, calling partners, offering incentives, measuring results.
Mutual interest is found by identifying the right partners, and by having the right offer. At bChannels we refer to this as data intelligence (who) and competitive intelligence (why). Vendors must understand the profile and capabilityof potential partner targets, and they must understand how their proposition stacks up against the competition. These are basic steps, and bChannels can help with both. Without these steps mindshare will be impossible.
Let’s say you’ve identified five people for the project and they have agreed to contribute. You have talked with them and agreed what they need to do. Do you now sit back and wait for the results? Unlikely. More likely you check in with them regularly, you provide them with advice and support, and you track their progress towards goals. If you don’t do this then they won’t give your project the time it needs. They have other things to do.
Mindshare is about presence (regularity of contact), training, incentives and ease of doing business. Your project team is most likely to succeed for you if you talk to them regularly and if you provide them support and incentives. They are less likely to succeed if you are never around when they need you to help.
Generating and retaining mindshare with hundreds or thousands of channel partners is clearly more challenging than with a project team of five. So measurement and dashboards become important. In our mindshare blogwe explain that many people believe mindshare is a ‘soft metric’ (like brand awareness) but in fact mindshare is very measurable. And mindshare has a direct impact on revenue.
bChannels can not only help with dashboards and measurement, we can also help with presence, training and incentives, using our Virtual Partner Account Manager Team (VPAM).
‘TO PARTNER’ Drives revenue
Partners who have passed the mutual interest test, and where the vendor is achieving mindshare, generate more revenue. It’s a fact. Additionally, these partners will commit more to through partner marketing activity and will generate more new business leads.
To Partner activity must be viewed as a package made up of mutual interest (data intelligence plus competitive intelligence) and mindshare (VPAM). Run effectively, this package drives partner commitment and creates new revenue streams.