Allbound loves inviting guest authors to contribute to our Partner Sales Acceleration conversation, and today’s blog post is from Mike Weir, Vertical Director - Technology Industry at LinkedIn.
In today’s marketplace, VARs have the opportunity, and requirement, to create a brand and reputation that stands out and shows the promised “value.” VARs need to be backing their efforts up with a vision & mission that guides culture and sets the direction for a marketing strategy and a partner identity showcasing true differentiation to the market. Just stating "I'm the best local storage integrator!" is no longer going to cut it to persuade ever-savvier clients, or instill confidence from OEM partners looking for the best investment.
The great news is many VARs have already transformed their strategies from simply carrying out product marketing campaigns to truly driving their own point of view in the marketplace with OEMs as a key asset in the story and they’re showing the returns.
Get on Board with Relevant Market Insight
One of the ways that VARs can add value is to be part of the conversation that’s shaping and rapidly changing the technology landscape. And what many VARs don’t realize is that this includes open, weekly interaction and engagement with the industry they serve and their customers.
New developments in various verticals like Banking, key industry regulations, and the growth in Internet of Things are all examples of impactful trends that VARs need to stay on top of. Keeping up with current industry and technology trends is key, as well as connecting the dots and seeing the interaction between different products that a VAR may sell. For example, if I'm a VAR and I'm selling virtualization, I should also interject opinions on how that intersects and interacts with various networking or storage hardware options, which in turn feeds into conversations about the cloud. This interjection of opinion happens in 1:1 VAR to client discussions but ask yourself if you’re sharing your POV at scale via marketing or social selling? It’s all about staying current and crafting a larger overall conversation about the industry that brings clients to you thanks to the value of your opinions.
Focus on More than Just the Product
A big part of this is getting into the right mindset. This means shifting marketing strategy from, "Hey, look at this amazing router that this OEM has, it's the best thing out there!" to "We’re seeing a lot of changes in the networking industry, and we believe you’ll need to adjust your approach to your infrastructure to leverage new technology that creates efficiency & cost savings. We have sophisticated products and services that help tackle these changes. Specifically, there's a great new product coming out from this OEM that can help with this.” Thought leadership pieces and insightful comments from smart employees are going to move VARs from product to solution marketing and position them as a beneficial partner, rather than just a pure product seller.
Leverage Marketing & Social Selling to Differentiate
Do you want to grow and become a leading voice amongst VARs? Here are a few tips to get you started:
Scale your POV. Build value-based content that shares your POV, features your Subject Matter Experts & client success stories. Engaging in thoughtful, meaningful content marketing across all social platforms is good way to be sought after in the marketplace.
Get on board with social selling. Sales should leverage your content marketing to deepen their client rapport. Those sales people who connect to their prospective customers in light-touch ways increase credibility and take the conversation further. Even a simple, "Here's a great article for you, since I know you're thinking about security right now” is going to go much farther than constantly reaching out with a hard-sell email.
Involve your partners and clients. By integrating key members of your industry you’ll spark collaboration and new idea generation. Start by hosting client discussions in your key markets, whether digitally or in person, and get the conversation going.
Participate as an industry speaker. There are a wealth of great opportunities to get your message and your views out there, such as industry events and trade shows. Get out there and help drive the conversation!
More and more, VARs will be creating an identity for themselves, engaging very differently in the marketplace, building their trusted voice back to the OEMs and advocating for the trends they’re seeing in order to close that perfect loop of communication. It’s time for VARs to answer the question: Who are you and what do you have to say?
At LinkedIn, Mike Weir leads the business unit supporting technology companies. He and his team work closely with marketing leaders at technology companies to build their brands and generate demand with the 430M+ members on LinkedIn. Increasingly, Mike is working with OEM Channel Leaders to help them build strategies to support their Channel Partners in activating on LinkedIn. Prior to LinkedIn, Mike ran marketing for the commercial business unit at CDW helping grow their revenue from $3 billion to over $6 billion.