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How Channel Partners Can Help Your Company Weather Inflation in EMEA Markets

Turn on the news, and you are bound to repeatedly encounter one word: inflation

In July 2022, UK inflation reached 10.1% with many other European nations facing similarly distressing numbers. While the impact on individual households is far too obvious, rising costs also create ripple effects felt by your company, channel partners, and the business world in less noticeable ways. As a result, organisations naturally look to reduce spending, borrow less, and overall reduce costs to weather the storm. 

However, with rapid change comes new opportunities to shift sales strategies in kind. This article will explore potential solutions in light of new realities to help your company thrive in economically volatile times.

Shifts in Hiring Practices & Technology Needs Lead to New Partnership Opportunities

2020 forced workplaces to hurriedly adopt new cloud-based solutions for digitally-based operations, collaborations, and sales interactions. While some elements of pre-pandemic practices have since “returned to normal,” other remnants became mainstream, embraced as part of a “new normal.” In turn, companies now need different types of talent than before to help manage cloud-based systems. 

Further exasperating this need is the unprecedented challenge of hiring new employees, a problem felt particularly by UK businesses. This is caused by an aggregate of factors, from older workers retiring early to millennials leaving traditional roles to start their own ventures. 

In response to the shift towards technological dependence and labour shortages, increasing numbers of companies seek third-party solutions. For a company selling SaaS-based products or services, there is no time like the present to bolster both your partner base and channel ecosystem to satisfy the market’s needs. SaaS-based companies should be quick to remember that in general, companies that leverage the channel most effectively tend to also weather such storms more effectively, as opposed to relying purely on one direct sales function. Sales partners are uniquely qualified to help you: 

  • Differentiate your value proposition from those of competitors – By offering joint solutions, you can stand out from competitors with similar solution profiles. Moreover, establishing built-in integrations with partners leads to smoother set-up and data sharing, cultivating a better user experience.
  • Scale swiftly in response to increasing demand – For a real-world example of this concept, look no further than Zoom. When workplaces suddenly became remote-based in Spring 2020, they used channel partners to seize the moment and become nearly everyone’s video conferencing provider. As outlined in their blog, they achieved this feat by immediately launching their Master Agent Referral Partner Program, updating their ISV program, and soon expanding their referral program into new regions, all within a few months. The results? Partner sales bookings increased over 7x fiscal year-over-year, driving 20% of total international sales.

The key takeaway we can all learn from Zoom? When supported by the proper foundation and technology, a channel partner program can galvanize growth to take advantage of fleeting windows of opportunity. 

  • Get ahead of a growing trend Channel sales is a growing practice, whether or not you choose to participate. More companies both start their own programs and participate in others, meaning they may eventually promote a competitor’s products over your own. 

Revisiting the accumulating number of millennial-led one-man-shops, many of these turn to reselling rather than developing their own intellectual property, further boosting the popularity of channel sales. 

Why Partner Programs Are Highly Adaptable to Unpredictable Economies

While channel partner programs bring exciting opportunities, they also help minimise financial risk while building new revenue streams. This is because partners are not salaried, only receiving compensation when they close a deal. Comparatively, hiring internal sales personnel requires a greater upfront investment including understanding the governing laws associated with new regions, paying them during initial onboarding, and committing to paying them, to some degree, irrespective of performance. 

Additionally, you can share marketing expenses with your partners by partially funding their promotion of your products. This can free your team to experiment with new strategies and gain valuable data with less financial risk. 

Lastly, as mentioned above, channel partners enable you to scale and break into new markets much more rapidly than if deploying Direct Sales. You can expand internationally to diversify your risk amongst multiple economies rather than concentrating on selling to a single audience. 

How to Attract and Retain Partners in an Increasingly Competitive Landscape 

Most likely, your channel partners will juggle seven to 15 vendors, all with their own portals, materials, and complementary products. Naturally, some will fall to the wayside, so how do you ensure you’re not amongst those tossed in the discard pile? 

 First and foremost, you must deploy all relevant resources with a singular, intuitively-organised portal available 24/7 so partners can find the desired assets with minimal work or delay. Better yet is if you find one with behavior-based automation (like Allbound) that points users towards applicable content or activities based on past actions. 

However, your centralised hub is only as good as the content it provides. Your onboarding and sales enablement resources are the building blocks of your partner experience. Create training, playbooks, and sales enablement materials specific to your partner groups and the audiences they serve. More importantly, audit content based on partner engagement levels and its role in closing leads; such KPIs illuminate which strategies are worth extra investment and those that are failing to deliver on expected ROI. 

While you will want to equip partners with the information and features necessary for promoting your products, you should also provide materials that enrich their professional lives. Perhaps it is a template that makes a menial task easier, a study that sheds light on their peers’ strategies, or a free eBook about leveraging new technologies within their marketing. By offering exclusive early access to valuable resources, partners have reason to return to your portal again and again, keeping you in the forefront of their minds. 

 

Channel Partners – A Viable Strategy No Matter the State of the Economy

Inflation is not the only world event that shapes how EMEA-based businesses operate. However, with a comprehensive channel partner infrastructure in place, your company is positioned to swiftly respond and evolve to shifting circumstances, come what may. 

To get started, we recommend reading How to Build a Channel Partner Program in which our CEO, Daniel Graff-Radford, details the initial decisions you must make to create a foolproof plan. 

Alternatively, request a demo to learn firsthand how the Allbound portal technology can support channel management at scale while improving the partner experience on the whole. 

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Meshach Amuah-Fuster