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Executive Summary

The majority of channel professionals disclose that, as of early 2021, their company’s partner programs did not fulfill their full potential; nearly a third of those surveyed reported that less than 25% of the company’s total sales revenue came from partner sales.

By no coincidence, 78% of survey participants have yet to automate more than a quarter of their channel functions, essentially capping the number of partners they can manage without substantial internal hiring.

However, this is all about to change.

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Automation helps you marry engagement and scale – two factors that are always at odds. Automation helps you maintain a sophisticated level of engagement, allowing you to offer a consistent experience to partners from Japan to Finland, offering personalization at scale.

     – Meshach Amuah-Fuster
     – Managing Director EMEA, Allbound

Yesterdays’ Unfulfilled Promise vs. an Optimistic Tomorrow

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NEARLY A THIRD OF SURVEY PARTICIPANTS REPORT THAT LESS THAN 10% OF TOTAL SALES REVENUE COMES FROM PARTNERS.

65% of respondents answered that their partners contribute less than a quarter of their companies’ total sales.

However, a significant majority of 84% report confidence that 2021 will mark a positive turning point for their partner program.

Comparatively, when projecting ahead within this year, the 29% of those who attributed less than 10% of sales to partners shrinks down to 2.5%

In fact, the most popular answer amongst surveyed participants was the anticipated attribution of 26-50% in 2021, compared to 11-25% in 2020.

This optimism doesn’t necessarily reflect changes within the general marketplace or consumer behavior. After all, if partners spawn an increased percentage of the total profits, this implies that Direct Sales plays a reduced role. Rather, survey data suggests that the expected partner program improvements relate to enhanced technology utilization.

Automation, to me, is less about building better relationships and is instead about scalability. It allows us to reach all of our partners. We spend 90% of our day speaking to our most valuable partners – and automation allows us to ensure our message and content reaches everyone. In turn, this allows us to focus our personal efforts on the key accounts.

              – Dan Ganancial
              – Head of Global Partner Marketing Contentful

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STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

Early 2021, 78% of those surveyed reported that less than a quarter of their partner journey was automated.

75% of survey participants reported that Channel Sales is a priority for their companies in the upcoming years. Data suggests this increased emphasis leads to new technology integrations intended to support long-term growth. We can assume that they heavily relied upon manual fulfillment of partner needs, restricting the number of program participants without requiring substantial in-house staffing.

In turn, 75% of participants intend to invest in partner relationship management (PRM),

software designed to automate a large portion of key functions. Such tools play active roles in both the recruitment and management of increased partners, building a foundation for future growth while maximizing efficiency.

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THE SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF NEW PRM-USERS IN 2021 CORRELATES WITH THE INCREASE IN PROJECTED PARTNER REVENUE.

How this impacts your Channel Sales strategy: The field of competition for attracting partners will become increasingly cutthroat as a growing number of companies lay the groundwork for growth and invest in the program experience.

What is Driving the Rapid Embracing of PRM Technology

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THE CHANNEL SALES GROWING EMBRACE OF CHANNEL SOFTWARE IS PART OF A GREATER TREND THAT PREDATES THE EVENTS OF 2020.

However, as is true for many elements of business operations, the abrupt shift to at-home work environments expedited the adoption of technology to stay connected.

There’s definitely more focus on the global perspective. We could bring partners together from around the world in a way we couldn’t – or rather didn’t – previously do. We feel more comfortable in providing the right content and training to partners wherever they are. The personal interaction will surely come back – but we rely on it much less than we used to.

     – Adrianna Wisniewska
     – Partner Enablement Manager, Contentful

I used to fly thirty times a year – I had onboarded over three hundred partners in the last 3 years of the ‘old world’. Now we’ve adapted. To do this we had to make sure our content was informative and engaging – covering every base with our collateral on the portal so our partners could sell effectively.

     – Josh Ayres
     – CEO, IstTek

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WHILE MANY COMPANIES TEMPORARILY LOST THE BENEFIT OF FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTIONS, THEY WITNESSED GAINS FROM INCREASED UTILIZATION OF STRATEGIC SOFTWARE.

01 Companies could service customers and partners on a different continent as well as they could those next door.

02 They could invest in quality content to share hundreds of times with the right support, offering greater efficiency than one-on-one interactions.

03 Management tools consolidated and integrated with one another, bridging knowledge gaps between processes and performance insights that were otherwise siloed. Comprehensive data helps companies strategize, predict revenue trends, share wins with leadership, and accurately measure ROI.

The partners who go through the portal tend to be the most engaged. We can see who is embracing the ecosystem and actively learning more. Assessing metrics like content viewed/downloaded/engaged allows us to tailor our content strategy to fit our partners’ needs. Don’t focus on what you want to make, focus on what resonates with your partners.

     – Katelyn Gillet
     – Channel Partner Manager, Garland Technology

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Ali Spiric
Marketing Specialist at Allbound

Ali Spiric leads Allbound’s content marketing to cultivate awareness for the ultimate PRM solution. Ali is a digital marketer that thrives in the B2B space.

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