The ONE RFP You MUST do to Power Your Channel

#RFP Fodder

Vendor proliferation is something that every company works to manage. In today’s credit-card swipe technology buying environment, it’s easy to end up with too many solutions that don’t integrate well and result in siloed data.

The opposite is true as well. With big vendors like Salesforce, which serves as the CRM platform for the large majority of corporations, the temptation from IT is to insist business-unit buyers use other affiliated technologies from Salesforce. It seems easy because they are “already an approved vendor,” and another solution is just a box check.

When it comes to PRM – Partner Relationship Management – this is one technology where channel managers need to push back. CRM solutions are built for direct, one-to-one sales, and not multi-touch channel sales.

It may sound tempting on the surface to not go through the effort of vetting other solutions in the market and go with Salesforce Communities (Salesforce’s PRM solution). We’ve found company after company are doing RFPs and turning to Impartner PRM, the best-selling, most award-winning pure-play PRM in the world.

Besides being born for the complexities of the indirect channel, here are three key reasons why you should choose Impartner:

  1. Impartner PRM does NOT require a 3rd party implementer – because Impartner does all the work
  2. Our PRM deploys in as few as 14 days, vs an average of 9 to 12 months with other companies
  3. Impartner charges by partner, not partner member, costing about 8 times less than Salesforce per year
    • Don’t let those “free” license years fool you, you’ll end up paying the price after 12 months

Xerox, Fortinet, Sophos and other leading corporations have turned to Impartner PRM to power their channel for those reasons and more. We are so sure we’ll be your first choice after you take a second look, we’ll help you with your RFP:

  • Click here if you want us to help fill out your RFP.
  • If you’re just getting started, click here for an RFP form for you to collect your information.

Impartner: #RFPFodder at the start, the choice of world-leading corporations in the end.

What You Missed at SiriusDecisions 2018

Another year, another SiriusDecisions Summit in the books.

More than 3,200 B2B leaders descended upon Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas to take in new innovations across the industry and draw insights from data-driven research. While the three-day conference may be over, its impact will be felt throughout 2018 and beyond.

From modernizing to segmenting, the annual gathering focused on a number of ways in which attendees can make the most of their channel programs – and it’s not too difficult to see why. Increasing demand for such sessions helped spark meaningful discussion around the growing importance of the channel.

If you couldn’t attend the conference or just want to refresh your memory, check out some of this year’s highlights.

Bringing things up to date

During the second day of the event, SiriusDecisions Channel Strategist Kathy Contreras offered her advice on rejuvenating outdated channel programs. Among the most effective tools for modernization is partner relationship management technology (PRM).

Put simply, PRM solutions have changed the way businesses work. Instead of losing track of where potential customers are along the partner journey (PX), businesses can leverage a modern PRM solution to provide a top-notch customer experience every step of the way. The result? Improved channel program performance and ultimately increased revenue. In fact, Impartner PRM customers report a 31 percent increase in revenue along with a 23 percent decrease in administrative costs. Best of all, significant change can be delivered to your PX in as few as 14 days.

Reaching the right audience

What better way to start the day than with a little conversation around channel sales and marketing? On Thursday, May 10, attendees flocked to a SiriusNetwork breakfast session to connect with colleagues over a wide range of topics – including channel sales enablement as well as through-channel marketing solutions.

Too often, indirect sales teams don’t have access to the same resources as direct teams. Tools like Impartner Content promise to change that. By automatically putting the right content in the right hands, Impartner Content stands to increase the profitability of partner companies by 56 percent. Rather than struggling to track down the most relevant files and folders, individuals at partner companies can get what they need, when they need it.

By attracting new customers and keeping brand consistency intact, through-channel marketing solutions may prove just as valuable. With Impartner, brands have the luxury of selecting specific messaging while also limiting partner collateral to the content they provide. This ease and automation not only opens the door for greater reach, but also reduces the risk of off-brand messaging.

Segmenting your channel

It’s no wonder why channel segmentation is a hot topic among businesses. Tight margins coupled with growing expectations can elevate the importance of partner efficiency. During a SiriusLab session on Thursday, May 10, conference attendees sought to discuss a few tips for carrying out channel segmentation more effectively.

One of the first steps businesses can take is placing less emphasis on tiered structures. While different tiers like gold and platinum may seem helpful, such demarcations stand to discourage partners who may be lower on the totem pole. Companies that leverage tools to customize the experience each channel partner has with their program can pave the way for improved segmentation and eventually higher profits.

If the sessions at the 2018 SiriusDecisions Summit are any indication, the golden age of the channel is upon us. From channel sales and marketing to the need for segmentation, there was no shortage of discussion about the channel. Mark your calendar for next year’s conference to ensure you don’t miss out on any more insights that might help multiply channel revenue.

5 Things You Need to Prepare Before Your Next Channel Event

You consider your partners to be your most strategic asset, which means you put a great amount of effort into meeting their expectations.

Channel events are not only a great way to network, but a prime opportunity to show your partners how much you care about them. There are several components to consider when planning and promoting an important event such as this. We have put together a few guidelines and strategies to ensure your next channel event is executed successfully and your attendees are satisfied.

  1. Do Your Homework – Clearly identify what you think your partners want. Analyze your past successful events and if this is your first event, evaluate past events you have attended. Narrow in on the aspects you liked and disliked and what you thought was beneficial. Determine the most important takeaways you want your attendees to leave with. Stay informed about upcoming trends and be sure to implement these into your event program.

  2. Set Goals and Budget – Keep in mind your overall event budget includes your marketing plan. Be sure to set goals that pertain to your budget and stay on track. Whether you are looking to obtain tangible or intangible goals, staying within budget is a key component to planning a successful event. Setting limits and staying within your means will ensure you are trustworthy and give you the opportunity to offer your expertise for events in the future.

  3. Prepare Your Team – while planning and prepping yourself is important, preparing your team is the key to a successful event. Create several documents outlining the specifics of your event. Include things like attire, agenda, duties, and any other information you think the team might need to know. We cannot stress the importance of a well-informed team enough. So many events fail or look poorly planned when the entire team isn’t up-to-date. Preparing your team makes the organization look successful, which will ultimately benefit partner relationships, and result in satisfied customers.

  4. Promote to the Right People in the Right Places – The number of people that attend your event ultimately defines the success of your event. First, we suggest identifying your target market, then establish which platforms the best fit. This circles back to doing your homework. Once you have established your audience, you can begin to create marketing content to promote your event. Email campaigns are a great place to start your marketing. We suggest including content from previous events and even using teasers to increase your attendance rates.

  5. Plan Your Follow Up – As important as getting people to the event is, following up with them is what ensures a long-lasting partnership. Thank you emails and surveys are a great way to keep your contacts engaged. We like to include personalized details from the event, this reinforces a solid foundation with your event attendees and gives them the incentive to register for your next event.

Planning an event takes a great deal of time and planning. These steps will ensure you have the right tools to take your next channel event to new heights.

Don't Miss Impartner at SiriusDecisions 2018!

This year’s SiriusDecisions Summit is full of sessions and vendors you don’t want to miss! If you’re headed to Las Vegas next week, Impartner will be in attendance with several of our channel experts. The selection of content and speakers lined up will be nothing short of impactful and we cannot wait to meet all of you.

Here’s what you can expect from Impartner at the show:

  • In between sessions, stop by booth #150 – to meet the team and get a live demo to see how we transform the channel performance of top companies everywhere!
  • Attend a live case study to learn how Impartner customer, Ingersoll Rand used our PRM to exceed pipeline goals by 200%.
    Tuesday, May 8th at 10:15 a.m. – Room Surf A
  • Hear from top SiriusDecisions Channel Strategist, Kathy Contreras, on the best ways to modernize your channel program.
    Wednesday, May 9th at 1:50 p.m.
  • Grab a seat and network with your peers at a SiriusNetworking Breakfast Session to discuss solutions to better manage your channel sales and marketing solutions.
    Thursday, May 10th from 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Accenture estimates that more than 75% of revenue flows thru the channel in most corporations. Don’t miss this opportunity to supercharge your channel and find out how Impartner PRM can help!

Do You Have the Right Tools to Segment Your Channel?

Why is segmentation important?

The pressure to move faster and produce growth within your business is the key to scaling at a higher rate and your ultimate success. If your company has been experiencing the pressures of tight margins, hiring shortages, and growth targets – it’s time to think about the many ways there are to utilize your indirect channel.

The previous methods for segmenting partners was limiting and involved very little customization. Through witnessing trends first-hand and extensive research we have been able to identify four major components to segmenting your channel in the smartest way possible.

  1. Ensure a balanced strategy
  2. Instead of bucketing partners into categories from a mechanical level, we recommend analyzing a few components. Study your partners' performance to gain insight into their potential. Be sure to determine which stage of the lifecycle the partner is in, within your company, are they new to your company? Are they still engaging? This will help you design groups around several different stages of the lifecycle. Include basic taxonomy into your strategy and do not forget to base a portion of your strategy on both the company and individual level.

  3. Ditch the tiers and level up with a plan
  4. Traditional gold, silver, and platinum can devalue and demotivate partners unless it is based on an individualized plan. Don’t make the mistake of focusing only on your high tier partners, when your smaller tier partners could potentially be turning out a higher ROI per dollar invested.

  5. Be dynamic
  6. Launching a partner program without being able to dynamical adjust gives you little room for error and course correction. In today’s hypercompetitive channel environment, it is important to determine what a good partner looks like to your company. Once you have measured and analyzed your ideal partners, it’s time to optimize and monitor your actual results and continue to adjust accordingly.

  7. Tool up and drive a segmented experience
  8. Tools are the critical component to the success of segmentation. You are now able to determine the best way to use your new tools to customize the experience each partner has with your program.

As your company expands and develops relationships with several types of channel partners, strategizing a segmentation process will allow your company to reach results that will balance and focus your partner programs for a more profitable future.

This content originally appeared as part of Impartner's 'Build a Better Channel' series. To watch the full webinar click here.

New Partner Mantra: 'Show Me (How I Make) the Money'

It's surprising how many channel people we talk to that do not have a clear understanding of how their partners make money selling their products. If they do, they quite often don’t incorporate all the factors affecting partner profitability into their programs.

When we talk with our clients about the importance of a strong economic value proposition to support their recruiting and re-recruiting efforts, they report many of the same challenges:

  • Why aren’t they more engaged? 
  • Why aren’t they pushing my new product line? 
  • Why does it seem we are doing all their work? 
  • Are we recruiting for the right profile with our partners?     

I’ve been there! Right after, “where are the sales?”, more cumbersome questions arise: Was it really worth it? Why are only a few resellers bringing in new business? What is wrong with them?

What’s in it for me?

Communicating a compelling economic value proposition to partner owners and execs in simple terms that show how they're going to make money with your product line has never been more important than it is today. The complexity of total offers--products plus services to deliver complete solutions--makes such messaging critical to get mindshare and wallet share from those partners. More than just messaging to partners at the deal level, you must paint a picture of how they are going to be successful in the short term and over the long haul, which is often the next 2-3 years in today’s changing world.

It’s not just about discounts, rebates, and incentives!

We have often been asked to benchmark companies' total rewards packages against a market basket of industry companies. This starts with a look at discounts, rebates, special incentives, deal registration incentives, and market development funds compared to best practices and industry norms.

We found that business owners and the partner execs seemed not to care about the up-front factors as much as they should. Of course, discounts, rebates, and incentives are important, but over time they all tend to settle to a competitive norm, so there isn't a lot of differentiation between vendors. What partner owners really cared about was what their business risk and the bottom line looked like--how much they had to invest to get into the business, how much it took to ramp up to be in the business, and their operational costs to make it a sustaining and growing part of their company. In other words, what they really cared about was what they kept, not just the top line or gross margins.

This led us to additional research into the fundamental economics around the partner relationship, across a number of different markets. We found examples where the deal-level economics were really strong; the top-line revenue was there, and margins were good, but the vendors didn't have a solid program or ability to execute, which made it very difficult to do business with those companies. We found that partners of those firms would tend to sit back, let the vendor do all the work, and be happy with the more modest margins that came from merely ‘fulfilling.’

It’s all about ‘Transaction Velocity!'

Vendors can have great products, great technologies, customers that love them, and partners that say all the right things. Customer pull-through can mask a lot of issues, so vendors must address two key areas to do more deals, faster:

  • Total readiness/enablement focused on marketing and sales motions. 
  • Ease of doing business through automation of key processes, such as: 
  1. Market development fund management (MDF)
  2. Lead distribution
  3. Configure/price/quote (CPQ). 
  4. Order management.

Effectiveness in these two related areas will combine to drive more opportunities, get to yes (or no) faster, and allow the partner to do more overall transactions at an effective cost of sales, which when it comes down to it, is what partners want out of their vendors.

Build Partner Programs Based on Economic Value Outward – Show Them The Money!

Vendor program elements and investments need to be designed to support the economic value proposition for targeted high-potential partners. To build effective programs you must:

  • Understand how the best partners make money with your products. 
  • Understand how top partners are structuring their businesses to maximize efficiency. 
  • Invest and execute in three primary aspects of ‘Transaction Velocity’:
  1. Through-partner marketing programs: assets, campaigns, and resources. 
  2. Field resources and sell-with expertise that can be added to match the buyer's journey. 
  3. Partner automation technology for ease of doing business throughout the entire program.

Craft a consistent ROI-based message for current and potential partner execs

Through these steps, vendors can show current underperforming and high-potential new partners how their investment in and commitment to the vendor will yield increasing revenue and profits. Vendors who adopt the ‘Show Them the Money’ approach attract and retain more top partners and will actively outperform their competition.

(This content was originally presented by Kevin Rhone, Practice Director and Senior Strategic Consultant at Enterprise Strategy Group, as part of a Lightning Round presentation on the “Top 9 Things Channel Chiefs Must Do in 2018 to Transcend the Performance of Their Channel.” To watch the entire presentation featuring a host of top channel strategists, CLICK HERE. This blog post originally appeared on ESG Blogs, March 7, 2018)

3 Trends to Revolutionize Your Manufacturing Business

It’s no surprise the manufacturing industry has one of the most complex selling models. With a rapidly changing sales environment, keeping up with the times in the current market can make it difficult to maintain a competitive edge.

As more manufacturers shift from their legacy selling models, which were based on in-depth product knowledge and relationship development, they are finding the importance of to-partner marketing, sales development, and so much more.

We’ve discovered a few trends to revolutionize your manufacturing sales and increase revenue growth:

  • Update Your Selling Model –  Get on track with industry trends by paying attention to your own analytics and benchmarks. The best way to analyze your future ROI is to look at your past. You must learn the industries best practices for portfolio expansion, spending on sales metrics, and revenue ratios to optimize your investments. Gain the greatest amount of leverage by unlocking your company’s maximum customer revenue potential.

  • Investigate Best Practices – Forward-thinking manufacturers no longer rely solely on the quality of their products to win deals. You must become empowered with the latest technology to set your sales and service teams up for the greatest success. This means expanding the use of platforms beyond CRM. Implementing the latest PRM and Marketing Automation platforms can give your company the competitive edge it needs to surpass expectations.

  • Optimize Your Data – When it comes to partner data, it is vital to know your partners inside out. Find out who is performing best and what systems they prefer, then optimize your marketing programs to align with your partners selling solutions. Next, look at your customer data and find out which campaigns they prefer from your partners. Compare analytics and determine why certain content resonated deeper than others, and use the data to create a deeper connection with customers.

For more information about modernizing manufacturing, watch ARO, Ingersoll Rand’s Customer Case Study with Impartner and find out how the implementation of our PRM transformed their partner experiences and helped bring their manufacturing company into the 21st century.

Five Things Channel Vendors Need to Know to Prepare for the GDPR

Today, one in four US companies don’t know if they’re prepared to meet GDPR compliance standards, which are set to take effect in May of this year. These new security rules affect any business that stores data on EU citizens, even if the company is based in the US.

Those that fail to comply will be fined up to $20 million or 4 percent of global annual turnover for the preceding financial year, whichever is greater. These penalties are so severe that they could put a company out of business in the EU.

Worried? You should be. But, it isn’t too late to prepare. Here’s what channel vendors need to know to get ready for the May 25th deadline:

  1. Data collection will become more transparent
  2. The GDPR was designed to ensure that there will be more transparency between the organizations who collect the data (the ‘Data Controllers’) and the individuals whose personal data is being collected (the ‘Data Subjects’). This means vendors will need to secure consent before collecting data from their partners or their partner’s customers.

  3. Excessive data collection will be forbidden
  4. Vendors that collect data from partners will be limited to only what is relevant and clearly disclosed to the individual. Data stored by a vendor which is deemed excessive such as personal contact information or social media handles could be considered non-compliant.

  5. Securing data will become imperative
  6. Vendors will need to ensure data is stored in accordance with the security provisions of the GDPR. This means vendors are required to use “appropriate technical and organizational security measures” to safeguard personal data. Depending on what data is being collected and how it is being used, companies should consider encryption and use anonymization or pseudonymization methods to protect it within their systems.

  7. Data accuracy will need to be maintained
  8. Partners will have the legal right to request a vendor update their data if the information is no longer accurate. If the partner requests at any time that their data should be deleted, the vendor has to comply with that request and confirm the deletion, not only from their own systems but from any downward systems who were processing that data on behalf of the vendor.

  9. Retaining old, unused data will be prohibited
  10. Vendors can only hold on to a partner’s data for as long as is necessary to fulfill the intended purpose of collection, and to comply with any other regulatory commitments. This means, if a partner leaves a vendor’s program, they will need to ensure they have a data retention policy that specifies how long they will retain the partner’s data for and the justification for holding on to the data for the said period.

    Given the immense amount of partner data vendors manage – it’s critical that they follow these new regulations closely. If you’re still using a spreadsheet or homegrown solution to manage your partner data, now is the time to make a change.

    With Impartner PRM, vendors can establish the level of transparency required to ensure compliance with the GDPR. The contemporary partner portal makes it easy to maintain partner data while achieving a heightened level of security through pseudonymization.

    Worried your current PRM solution isn’t compliant? Don’t worry — Impartner can have you up-and-running with Impartner PRM in less than two weeks, so you can be ready for the May 25th deadline.

Stop Bribing Your Partners with MDF

The status quo is no more. We are in a state of revolution regarding partner programs, pivoting away from transactional and incentive-led to a new era of loyalty and trust. Traditional programs are struggling to find and stay relevant. The time is now to reimagine programs, embrace new personas and breathe loyalty and trust into our partner relationships. If you are still stuck on bribing your partners with Marketing Development Funds (MDF), we are here to tell you, there is a better way!

MDF and other like investments are guaranteed to be around for the foreseeable future – but there will be a pivot. We will start to see MDF as a mutual investment that the vendor and partner make together. This investment could be anything that makes sense – like a marketing program to drive leads – but it could also be an external certification that the partner needs to serve your mutual customers. The investments could range from digital marketing classes, sales methodology training, or a funded headcount for a partner to expand into a new area.

We have found programmatic MDF – whether accrued or granted – and are using funds to run marketing programs that don’t take the end user in mind, provides zero value. According to Jay McBain, Forrester Analyst, customers are looking for hyper-specialized partners and one of the 35M potential customer solutions that could be offered. There is no off the shelf program that could possibly address that. The better option is to consider investments that are focused on the end user and offer a return on the investment with mutual benefits. This type of paradigm shift breeds loyalty and trust.

The concept customer lifetime value has been around for a long time and smart businesses use this metric to measure loyalty and understand a customer’s worth to a business. It is important to ask yourself why you are loyal and if the products and services you are providing live up to expectations and deserve the same loyalty in return.

Partner-Centric-Management is the foundation partner relationships are built on, which includes, cooperation, mutual success, trust, and loyalty. We know from research that customer trends dictate the buying decisions to solve a business outcome. This makes it even more important that the vendor and partner work together to provide solutions within a trusted, mutually beneficial relationship, that also builds loyalty.

Consider what the specific characteristics you would want in a long-term partner. Determine what makes the perfect partner for your organization. Once you narrow down these traits, you can figure out how you will engage with the perfect partners. A long-term relationship will require intent to provide an excellent partner experience, with collaboration and mutual benefit – and an excellent PRM solution.

As for MDF, you’ll begin to think about it in terms of investing in mutual priorities with ROI.

This content was originally presented by Jessica Baker, Chief Program Officer at Achieve Unite, as part of a Lightning Round presentation on the “Top 9 Things Channel Chiefs Must Do in 2018 to Transcend the Performance of Their Channel.” To watch the entire presentation featuring a host of top channel strategists, CLICK HERE.

Why Content Marketing Through Blogs is Essential to Your Channel Partners Success

Marketing is the key component to the success and growth of your company, more specifically content marketing. Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. It is no wonder we have seen a rise in businesses with active blogs, which, on average see 126% more lead growth than those without.

The conversions content marketing rakes in rates as much as six times higher than other methods and businesses publishing 16-plus posts per month get almost three and a half more traffic than those publishing zero to four articles.

If your content marketing is lacking, it’s not too late. Here are a few tips to improve the quality and quantity of your content right now.

  1. Create a way for your partners to easily share your posts via social media and even on their own website. You can easily implement share buttons for all your content and use your platform to encourage users to spread the word. If you are creating compelling content your followers and partners will be more inclined to share your content on their own.

  2. Give your partners access to your editorial calendars and invite them to blog on the same topics you are at the same time. This gives you both a chance to cross reference subjects and increase engagement for both parties. Blog swaps and guest authors are a great way to reach a wider audience, but be sure to stay within your industry reach.

  3. Encourage your partners to like, retweet and comment on your social posts regarding your blog and do the same for them in return. You can make this easy to do by sending emails with easy to find links to all of your recent posts.

  4. Lastly follow the 80/20 rule, 80% should be industry wide relevant advice and insight, 20% should be about your specific offering. Remember, both can turn visitors into leads, just be creative with how you word your content. Stay on topic and follow industry leaders opinions leads on current and relevant subjects.