Welcome to another installment of Confessions of a Channel Marketer where we explore what works and whatshould get fixed in channel sales and marketing. If this is your first exposure to the series, make sure you check out the inaugural post with Allbound’s Director of Customer Success. As it turns out, there is not shortage of ‘confessions’ and opinions among indirect channel professionals. The challenges of the channel seem to be common and familiar to most everyone who is trying to help their company grow through indirect sales partners.
Today’s confession is from Meg Benjamin, an independent channel marketing consultant who has worked with the likes of Avnet, Riverbed, Arrow Electronics and Webroot among others. Meg has focused on the channel for over 12 years and certainly sees the opportunities to improve and streamline interactions between suppliers and partners.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the channel? My favorite thing is working with the partners and resellers that are part of the go-to-market strategies I’ve developed and managed for channel-focused organizations. It’s very gratifying to help them get their solutions into the marketplace, distribute leads to them and ultimately help them increase their sales in the end.
Indirect sales channels represent unique opportunities for marketers and sales professionals. I work with partners of all different types and sizes. It could be 1 or 2 individuals in a small office, and up to larger enterprise partners and suppliers. This variety allows for a lot of creativity on the types of campaigns you can execute. What works for one group doesn’t always work for the other. Developing strategies that are effective regardless of size and market focus can be a lot of fun.
The need to reduce complexity and streamline interactions between stakeholders is key to overcoming historical channel sales and marketing challenges.
What would you say is the biggest challenge in channel sales and marketing? One of the biggest challenges is getting creative with small budgets while still generating and progressing a sales pipeline. Also, campaign execution usually requires working with a lot of different agencies, each of which is responsible for executing a portion of a program. For example I might work with one telemarketing agency, another agency to develop emails, a third to complete channel SEO and SEM marketing campaigns, and then work with a completely different firm to develop creative for direct mail and other elements of the campaign. Bringing that all together to deliver a complete campaign can be a challenge.
Tell me one tool, mobile app or magic potion you wish you had in the channel. With everything going on in mobile, and everyone using their phones and tablets, the challenges I described above only seem to get magnified. it would be great to have a tool where you could overcome those challenges, centralize the process and allow you to simply click buttons to access, share and consume what you need to sell and market in the channel.
Add on top of that reporting that is simple and easy, and the value would be tremendous. Currently, you’ve got partners registering deals, there are direct reps, and it’s always been difficult to get the partner to report back to the manufacturer. Plus, everyone seems to report differently. To get any kind of view of success, you’ve got to aggregate data, consolidate spreadsheets and try and turn them into one report. The workload is huge. The two best channel sales and marketing tools have always been Excel and email. It’s time that has changed. Technology has evolved too much to have those limitations, and our channel sales and marketing tools need to evolve too.
What’s the future or “the next big thing” for channel sales and marketing? Everything needs to start coming together centrally and become more concise. Being able to initiate marketing and partner interactions from one place is something the channel has long needed. It’s definitely time to move beyond the dispersed approach that has become the status quo. If that centralization manifests itself in the cloud so that programs are easy to facilitate and administer, the channel would be much more efficient and effective.
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