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Actionable advice for supporting channel partners through tough times

Channel partners. Few tech firms can exist – or grow – without them. In fact it’s estimated that they contribute around 50% of total yearly revenues for their ‘host’ businesses. They’re also vital links when it comes to building out end-to-end capabilities.

Actionable advice for supporting channel partner marketing

In other words, you’ll miss them once they’re gone. Like panda bears or Justin Bieber.

Which is precisely why technology firms need to be reimagining the support they offer partners, in terms of time, money and expertise. Why? Because the ride ahead looks like it’s going to get rather bumpy.

Size matters

What PCW (post crisis world) looks like is hard to tell right now. But what we do know is that the large tech giants out there will most likely survive any downturn or recession with limited casualties.

Sure, profits might go down for a few quarters, and growth could take years to recover. But the ‘big boys’ will still be there, innovating, selling, and supporting. So will their larger channel partners. The multi-national consultancies, ISVs, and cloud service providers etc. who also have the scale to ride out all but the most biblical of storms.

But what about the ‘smaller’ partners? Those who already have limited marketing resources available to help maintain sales pipelines and win new business? How will they weather a potential ‘demandageddon’?

Managing change

Smaller partners (size, not stature) may be vital to many technology firms’ service or product portfolios, but most channel ecosystems already exist in a state of permanent (if gradual) evolution:

  • Top partners – those that help form the 20/80 rule, where 20% of partners generate 80% of all channel revenues – are most tightly integrated due to the share of marketing funds and sales support on offer

  • Of the rest, it’s estimated that 1 in 4 of partners drop out of a typical B2B network each year

  • Getting new partners up-to-speed takes time, with around 50% needing 10 months or more to reach desired levels of activity

Losing a significant portion of your partner network is therefore going to be bad news, with few short-term ‘fixes’ available to plug the gaps.

A perfect storm for channel partners

The situation is not helped by the current lockdown, which is creating an almost ‘perfect storm’ for partners to navigate:

  • Actual business demand and investment is inevitably going to drop in the short-term at least

  • Those companies actively buying are likely to increase the scrutiny into proposed solutions – thereby lengthening sales cycles

  • With face-to-face meetings and events cancelled, partners (especially those with small to non-existent marketing teams) have lost a major route to market

  • Marketing, at least for now, has gone purely digital – demanding partners to quickly ‘up-skill’ on a range of capabilities or risk missing out

The last point is critical because it’s the only one where the channel has a sense of control, and can be proactive in seeking a solution. They’re going to need to move fast as well – most will be living off pipeline opportunities generated before the crisis began.

Getting in survival mode

So what can businesses be doing to help their partner ecosystems survive 2020? Well, that’s obviously a big question, and the answer alone deserves its own blog post. But to summarise the 5 main recommendations we’re making to our clients right now:

  1. Extend your technology capabilities – any help you can provide in terms of collaboration and networking tools etc. is going to be much appreciated. This could be done by extending your own licenses to partners (internal/third party), or simply recommending the best tools open to them

  2. Extend your expertise – with support for running digital campaigns, events, webinars etc. Better still, turning this support into ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions (invites, landing pages, web banners for an event etc.), is also going to dramatically cut the lag time for getting new activity off the ground

  3. Help with data and audience generation – to expand your partners’ marketable universe and provide insights into specific segments to inspire more personalised and tailored approaches

  4. Get creative – with digital channels seeing a marked increase in marketing activity, now is the time to ‘go large’ on your creative outputs. It’s here that you can introduce partners to available creative resources, while also helping them utilise existing content to start up digital conversations

  5. Get social – last but by no means least, social channels are where a lot of action is happening right now. Better still, you can be helping partners by bringing them into conversations, endorsing their views, and generally putting the ecosystem to work in building a more collaborative interactive network

In summary

Partners bring a wide array of capabilities, proficiencies, and revenue streams to the table. But now more than ever they require support to be on hand where and when they need it.

At Quantum Marketing we have a ton of experience in supporting partner ecosystems. In fact, we regularly work with partners to help dial up their demand generation and brand marketing, to inspire both short-term opportunities and long-term growth.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more.


Maximising partner engagement

"Maximising channel partner engagement" is an essential ebook for improving sales through effective partner engagement. It offers practical tips and strategies for building strong partnerships, with real-world examples and case studies.

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