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Lately, we’ve been looking at the role collaboration plays in the channel. It’s easy to view such a relationship from the top down as a supplier. However, innovation thrives on diversity. Having more voices at the table can often help you avoid the echo chamber and adopt new and more successful marketing strategies.
Channel Advisory Boards bring together suppliers and partners to drive improvements in your channel marketing efforts, often in ways that would be impossible without input from both parties.
The Role of Channel Advisory Boards
You can gauge how well your channel marketing efforts are doing by looking at facts and figures. How are revenues this quarter? How are end users responding to your new product line? These will be reflected in partner sales data.
More important is the why. Namely, why your strategies are or aren’t working, and whether your channel marketing efforts are paying off. Your partners will have access to unique insights into sales, and will no doubt have their own opinions on how well the channel is structured.
When B2C companies want to know how their products are perceived, they run focus groups. Think of CABs as focus groups for your channel marketing efforts, with your partners as the group participants.
Except in the case of CABs, you’re not simply grilling them for more information, but actively courting their feedback and suggestions. After all, they form a significant component of your sales funnel, and just as you’d collaborate with your in-house sales teams to improve the sales process, you should work tirelessly to set your partners up for success.
Creating and Running CABs
Here are a few key considerations when setting up a channel advisory board:
- Ensure that your relevant executives are present: Having your important playmakers present provides a gesture of goodwill and shows your partners that you’re invested in improving the channel.
- Keep it manageable: Choose up to 10 partners to be represented, and ensure they span a range of experiences (duration of partnership, position/role in partner company, etc).
- Rotate membership: Bring in a new set of reps every 12 to 18 months to ensure fresh perspectives.
- Meet regularly: It’ll be easiest to meet three to four times a year via Webinar, but meeting in person around industry events can deepen collaboration and fit into everyone’s schedules.
- Keep meetings focused: By keeping meetings on track and discussing a single topic, the channel improvement process will be much more efficient.
Channel Advisory Boards not only offer the opportunity to improve your channel marketing process, they earn you the trust and admiration of your partners. If CABs aren’t already an essential component of your channel marketing process, it’s high time you began collaborating.