< Back to resources

Is direct dead?

Okay... maybe it isn't dead, but it is critically wounded. Traditional inbound marketing and outbound sales techniques aren't as effective as they once were. It's time to prioritize partnership for maximal results. Here's how.
Download Pdf

Ready for the content?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pa

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Download Pdf

Well, it’s maybe not dead, but palliative care is most definitely being administered.

Direct go-to-market strategies are proving increasingly ineffective. Why? Because everyone is doing the same thing. The market is oversaturated. 

It’s time for another approach. An approach that has been around for a long time. An approach that is ingrained in human psychology. An approach founded on relationships.

A hard year for tech

To say it’s not been a great year for tech would be an understatement. 

A culmination of inflation, oversaturation, and overpromises led us to a lot of layoffs, caution, and backtracking. If the industry was a movie, it’d be an over-18 horror with lots of blood – and a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes. 

With quotas down, it’s fair to say many businesses are struggling. The running total of layoffs for tech in 2023 currently stands at 224,503 according to layoffs.fyi.

This impact trickles down to the remaining employees who are faced with unattainable targets in a saturated market. It’s no wonder firing off an email campaign now has the same impact as a damp firework. 

Let’s take a look at why direct selling has fallen off a cliff.

Why direct selling is ineffective

First off, there’s been no change to direct channels since 2016. 

Lead generation used to be pretty formulaic. If you sent X number of emails or spent Y on paid ads, you’d average Z number of leads. Now, you can have all the letters of the alphabet and still not be able to make sense of your sales funnel.

There’s no rhyme or reason to what works anymore. Traditional tactics still work to a certain extent, but every B2B SaaS company is doing the same thing. 

And, as always, buyers give cold emails and cold callers a frosty reception: 75% of cold-outreach emails aren’t even seen by real people.

Furthermore, the rise of AI and bots have left users wondering who is real anymore. Big tech hasn’t fixed AI’s misinformation problem, and it feels like the industry has gotten lazy when it comes to creating value-driven content. Needless to say, trust has been eroded between brands and consumers. 

So, how do you make yourself stand out in this mess?

Partner-led growth

A differentiator in these challenging times has been partnership ecosystems. Brands such as AWS and Hubspot have risen above the massacre and managed to see considerable growth.

By fostering partnerships with marketing agencies, developers, consultants, and more, HubSpot has extended its reach and impact across the industry. Partners integrate their expertise and solutions with HubSpot's platform, enabling customers to access a broader range of services. 

As HubSpot's partner ecosystem thrives, so does its revenue. They prove that by focusing on a growing market, brands can forge a positive future for themselves. 

So why has partner-led growth soared while direct has struggled? 

Why partner-led works

Trust has always been a huge factor in decision-making. 

Do you trust the car salesperson when they say you’re getting a great deal? Are you going to be driving happily around for years to come, or sitting on the highway 10 minutes later with a broken down car, crying into your hands?

Sometimes, you just have to take a gamble. Other times, you should listen to what those you trust have to say. It’s human nature to be cautious and copy others, hence why review sites like Peerspot are so popular. 

While you don’t trust the random salesperson, you do trust your friends, family, social network, and colleagues (hopefully). 

That’s why partnership selling has always been strong. It’s part of who we are.

This B2B SaaS survey shows that 34% of respondents pointed to word-of-mouth referrals as the most popular channel for generating new business, followed by paid search (18%), and partnerships (14%.)

They supported this data by stating that “SaaS tools can be complex and time-consuming, requiring a good level of trust before companies are willing to move forward.”

However, word-of-mouth really falls into partnership selling, so this data only solidifies the argument that partner-led growth is where the future of B2B SaaS is at. It’s also highly cost-effective too. 

After all, the main objective of partnership selling is to create a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties can leverage one another’s strengths, resources, and expertise to achieve common goals and drive growth. 

Straight away, there’s a reason for both parties to be invested. Couple this with a direct introduction from someone you trust, and you’ve got a golden combination. 

As a result, partnership KPIs are typically much better than direct. Businesses report that by moving to an ecosystem model of trading, they typically see:

  • 65% increased efficiency and reduced cost
  • 56% improved new customer acquisition
  • 47% accelerated product-to-market

Creating a partner-led sales motion

To create a robust partner-led motion, you need the right strategy and tools behind you. Just making any old partnership program isn’t the way to drive success. 

You have to treat a partnership as a long-term relationship rather than a quick fling. This means working at it no matter how long it's been going for and not taking each other for granted.

First, identify the partners you’d like to do business with. This could be as simple as finding businesses that sell to the same cohort as you. From there, it’s about how you cultivate, nurture, and scale those relationships to create mutual value (yes, you’ll be helping the partner identify opportunities from your cohorts, too). 

At Allbound, we’ve labeled this key stage of the relationship cycle ‘co-keep.’ Co-keep focuses on retaining and nurturing relationships by providing high-quality partner experiences. Most PRM technologies have evolved in the vendor-partner model, with a heavy focus on the vendor. 

Allbound PRM has been built with co-keep in mind, providing high partner engagement and tangible insights into relationship signals (such as partner activity, deal frequency, velocity and value, engagement indicators, and user behavior) that correlate to the most mutual value. This data can then be used to identify other ideal partners, and so the ecosystem grows.

If you’d like to learn more about how to create a strong partner ecosystem, you can read about the crucial role of PRM in the ecosystem here. 

Meet the Speakers

Speaker One
Speaker One
Allbound Speaker
Speaker Two
Speaker Two
Allbound Speaker
Speaker Three
Speaker Three
Allbound Speaker
Speaker Four
Speaker Four
Allbound Speaker