Every time I read some article, blog or white paper dealing with channel partner relationship management, the term “mindshare” always pops up. All the experts in the field tell us that “it is important to capture the mindshare of your channel partners.” But what is meant by the term mindshare?
According to Merriam-Webster, mindshare is “a controlling or predominant hold of one's attention that is gained especially by marketing ploys.” The key part of this definition is a “hold of one’s attention.”
Now let’s think about this in terms of channel partners. Your channel partners are focused on selling multiple products and services from many companies. Some of these companies might even be your direct competitors. In order to be successful, you must find a way to engage your partners frequently and effectively. Engagement equates to attachment and business alignment, which equates to more sales.
Numerous phone calls and emails are not an effective strategy for improving engagement. A framework for successful engagement is based on the following core elements:
- Collaboration – sales people work best in an environment that is supportive and collegial.
- Marketing/Communication – people like to feel connected, which can be accomplished by having information readily available.
- Training and Certification – sales people need to be educated on the key elements (market position, value proposition, etc.) of the products and services they are selling.
- Performance Management – employees need feedback to know where they stand within the organization and what they need to do to improve.
At first glance, this framework appears complex and potentially expensive to implement. You may be asking yourself how important is a highly engaged partner channel to the success of your business? In a nut shell – VERY important. In a Towers and Watson study (Towers and Watson Study – Employee Engagement Underpins Business Transformation Sept. 2009), which looked at more than 50 global companies, those companies that achieved high levels of employee engagement experienced a 19% operating income improvement over a 12 month period. On the other hand, companies with low levels of engagement had a 33% decline in operating income over a 12 month period. Clearly, engagement, or mindshare, is something that you need to be very concerned with as it relates to your partner channel.
Ok, so the core components of successful partner channel engagement have been identified, but how do you execute? Is there a tool, or set of tools, out there that will assist in these areas resulting in increased mindshare? Yes, there are software solutions, referred to as partner relationship management (PRM) systems, that can increase engagement and mindshare. At its core, a PRM system is a portal through which channel partners are able to access all of the resources they need to be effective at their job – selling your products and services.
For you Star Trek fans, it would be great to have the Spock of your company perform the Vulcan mind meld on all your channel partners, ensuring that you can anticipate all their needs and desires. While there is only one Leonard Nimoy, the implementation of the right PRM solution will increase mindshare with your channel partners, ensuring that all parties will “live long and prosper.”