Out With The Old: Moving Beyond Outdated Channel Marketing

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on Oct 20, 2016 11:10:00 AM

As channel marketing evolves at an increasingly rapid pace, one underlying truth remains:  The sales organizations that remain agile and stay on top of shifts in marketing are going to reap the most rewards.  Those who are unable to adapt, and continue using 20th Century methods, are going to find themselves falling further behind.  This is every bit as true for SMB as it is for global enterprises.

There has never been a more dynamic time in the history of marketing, with more opportunities for companies to adapt and stand out from the competition.

One of the key factors, therefore, is just being able to recognize when older methods are no longer working as they should.  In the next few blogs, we're going to look at some of these changes, and what steps your organization can take to adapt in time and embrace the future.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Channel Marketing Strategy, channel marketing

Fine-Tuning Data for a Sales-Focused PRM Program

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on Oct 18, 2016 10:10:00 AM

For a company selling through an indirect sales channel, a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform can be one of the most valuable tools for channel success. However, like any technology, it's only useful when setup and managed properly.  

When we're helping our customers with their PRM implementation, the initial setup is usually based on a few near-term priorities.  As we've discussed before, getting started with PRM is easy.  Often, it's the mid-long term objectives that require more in-depth planning and an understanding of channel strategy that impacts both the vendor and its selling partners. This is where the importance of data management comes to the surface: gaining an understanding of what's working and what's not in order to make informed decisions for moving forward.

Today, we wanted to talk about a few data-driven issues that crop up later on, and defining a path to continuously improve data management within your PRM program.

Topics: channel sales, prm strategy

What is Smarketing? Bridging the Sales and Marketing Gap

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on Oct 13, 2016 1:35:00 PM

For years, one of the biggest pain points in the sales process for both companies and their buyers has been the fundamental disconnect that too many organizations have between their sales and marketing departments.  Both are usually treated as separate entities, with separate budgets, and often with mis-aligned - or worse, competing - goals.  Combined with a general lack of communication, it creates a situation leaving both sides equally dissatisfied.

The internal conflicts that result are hard to resolve.  Sales staff often feel that the leads being sent to them by marketing weren't well qualified (often due to conflicting messaging), or that marketing was taking a “quantity over quality” approach to lead-generation.  This, of course, can often be counterproductive, making it difficult for sales to prioritize the best leads, or spending too much time chasing poorly-qualified leads.

In an indirect sale channel, these problems are amplified.  Mismatches between the marketing initiatives of the vendor, and the ground-level sales activities by partners, can create even more miscues.

That's why it's vital for a flexible, inbound-focused indirect sales organization to begin practicing smarketing.  This term, first coined by HubSpot, refers to the smart alignment of sales and marketing to ensure the best possible experience for customers, and the highest possible conversion rates from leads to sales.

Topics: Sales Productivity, Increase Channel Sales, channel sales, channel marketing

Challenges and Solutions In Today's Indirect Sales Environment

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on Oct 11, 2016 8:35:00 AM

If you haven't seen it already, the latest edition of HubSpot's seminal State Of Inbound Marketing Report has been released, and - as always - it's packed full of fascinating facts and insights into both inbound marketing and the overall state of B2B sales and marketing today.  We've been going over the report, and in the weeks to come, we'll be talking about some of its findings while discussing solutions to a number of the challenges it highlights.

One of the key sections of the report covers the most common challenges facing today's sales and marketing executives. As we review several of the key findings from this report, we'll relate some of the best practices we've learned through our years of channel strategy and ways that a PRM-driven technology approach can address these issues.

Topics: prm, Inbound Marketing, prm systems, prm strategy

Where To Begin With PRM in 4 Easy Steps

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on Oct 6, 2016 10:35:00 AM

So, you've invested - or are about to invest - in a new Partner Relationship Management platform. A good PRM system will provide a lot of functionality to support your channel program, which means there are some complicated decisions to be made about implementation.

Trying to start using PRM without a plan for how you're going to use it will end up creating a lot of unnecessary challenges down the road. Likewise, simply throwing open the floodgates and trying to implement everything at once will almost inevitably lead to confusion.

While every business's needs will be different, we have some suggestions for how to get started, and which aspects of a PRM solution to focus on early.

Topics: Build Your Channel, prm implementation, prm strategy

Picking The Right Carrots: How to Effectively Incentivize Your Channel Partners

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on Oct 4, 2016 10:25:00 AM

When it comes to inspiring better performance among your sales partners, one of the most reliable options is the incentive program. Whether you're fighting to increase mindshare among sales reps pushing many competing brands, or simply looking to boost sales among dedicated franchisees or VARs, incentive programs have been shown to be highly effective.

But of course, there are a lot of possibilities for incentive programs out there, and not all of them are as effective as others. Some can even end up being money pits, if they cost more to implement than they bring in via increased sales.

Topics: Scale Your Channel, channel incentives

Is the Sales Process Really 70% Over Before They Call You?

Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Sep 27, 2016 10:20:00 AM

Last week I visited a client  that sells large tube processing equipment to attend their open house with customers from all over the country. They had just launched a new laser cutting line and were showing it off to existing customers and prospects.

A guy walked up to the owner and said 'we looked at a bunch of laser manufacturers and have narrowed it down to 2 companies, you and another. We eliminated 3 others based on features, price and reputation after doing our research. Can we talk about a proposal?'

Topics: best practices, Inbound Marketing, changes in buying behavior

Waste and Inefficiencies in B2B Sales and Industrial Marketing

Posted by Ed Marsh on Sep 22, 2016 8:15:00 AM


3 Counterproductive Obsessions

The inbound marketing movement has led to lots of interesting discussion around sales approaches. That's understandable - after all, as buyers have more tools at their disposal to self serve and avoid sales people, it's reasonable that more than marketing needs to change. Foresightful companies are creating a continuum of prospect experience with an inside sales person as the quarterback.

Traditional silos of PR, marketing, field sales & customer service will be melded together into one complimentary revenue growth team. (For more background check out this 10 minute narrated picture book and this presentation on a prospect buying continuum.)

That's a tall order though. Org chart changes have to be CEO driven - and most of the work I see underway in companies is intra vs. inter departmental. In other words, the marketing department recognizes they have to adapt to digital and undertakes to do so. But the sales department, with a different perspective, leadership, and priorities continues down their narrowing path.

That's creating lots of waste and inefficiency - and companies can ill afford either.

While I see many examples of waste, three pervasive obsessions exist. These include:

  • Pipeline
  • Process
  • Checklist 

Topics: Inbound Marketing, b2b, smb

6 Key Questions to Ask to Improve Deal Registration and Lead Management

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on Sep 20, 2016 10:40:00 AM

While it was previously a task left largely to sales partners, today's vendors that sell through an indirect channel should be taking a much more active role in lead generation and management. It's one of those "everybody wins" scenarios. You are more in charge of increasing sales, while your partners get the one thing they value most: more qualified leads!

Of course, major changes to lead management strategies can be a serious challenge to any company which had previously been relying on their partners, especially established firms who've been in business for awhile. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that changes in buying behavior are impacting the traditional roles of vendor and channel partner.

No matter how you currently manage leads, understanding your strategy for lead generation is the first big step towards optimizing your processes. These six questions will help you assess your current state, while illustrating new opportunities for improvement.

Topics: Scale Your Channel, lead management, deal registration

Key Strategies For Building A Solid Partner Marketing Campaign

Posted by Seth Jacobsen on Sep 15, 2016 4:40:00 PM

Between the rise of inbound marketing, and the rapid changes in buyer behavior in the past few years, online marketing is a whole new world. For the adventurous channel manager and marketing team, this can be an exciting prospect. New methods for acquiring leads are being discovered all the time, while also finding ways to reduce overall spends for improved marketing ROI.

This is vital for indirect sales organizations, because it opens up entirely new avenues for lead-gathering. It's no longer a good idea to leave sales and marketing solely up to partners. Vendors must now be active participants in the online marketing process, discovering and curating leads which are then passed on to the right sales partner in a timely manner.

Topics: Scale Your Channel, channel marketing

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