Creating a ‘To Partner’ and ‘Through Partner’ Marketing Program for Today’s New Normal
Learn More About:
1. Sal - your clients include MSP's? Can you name a few? Do you deal with the more traditional telecom channel with players like Master Agent/Agent Seller and Supplier relationships....example: Intelisys/ScanSource as the Master and the supplier would be say CenturyLink.

Sal Patalano:
Our client portfolio includes both MSPs and Vendors. The ratio is approximately60/40 in favor of MSPs. We deal primarily with traditional MSPs. However, over the last 3 years the number of Agent Sellers has increased noticeably. I would attribute this to the flexibility of our platform. Intelisys and Scansource are both clients. We would be pleased to provide additional detail during a conversation. Please advise if you would like to arrange to speak. spatalano@mindmatrix.net

2. What about Partner Retention marketing programs: For the partners once they close a deal, and for companies that manage PRM - any ideas and recommendations welcome

Mike Moore:
I would model any partner campaign after your customer retention programs. Consider how partners derive value from the relationship and offer content and experiences that help build connection and trust to advance your partnership goals.

Sal Patalano:
As founder and CEO of a former IBM Business Partner, and VP SW Group Channels at IBM, retention of your Partners and Partner retention of customers always boils down to the “experience.” Assuming the product line is competitive, a big reason partners stay with a vendor is the degree to which it is easy to do business with that vendor (in addition to the ability to make money). The same is true for a customer. The CUX is infinitely more important now than it has ever been in our industry.

Dan Overgaag:
Your partner marketing retention efforts should focus on likely reasons a partner may leave your program. The marketing needs to be relevant to them. For instance, don’t focus your efforts on solution expansion when a partner is struggling getting traction with initial sales. You should keep focusing them on how to develop as a partner.

3. What have you found to be the most effective channel partner recruitment methods? Has COVID impacted how you approach this?

Mike Moore:
Using a model that shows your prospective partners the path to their first deal and subsequent deals is key. Partners don’t have the resources to invest in a new partnership without a clear understanding of how long it will take to monetize their investment.

Sal Patalano:
First and foremost, I recommend having a dedicated team focused on recruitment, on-boarding, training, demand gen and closing the initial deal. The BusDev team responsible for recruitment needs to be on a sales plan… and make it creative. Retention is 5 times as important as recruitment. Candidly, COVID has not impacted how we recruit or retain. Business is still business for partners. But again, I emphasize creating a Partner User Experience that makes it easy to do business with your company. Make sure your CAMs are “business consultants” who understand the partner’s business model versus administrative agents or co-sellers. They need to understand the numbers – how a partner makes money

Dan Overgaag:
• We’ve identified 5 key elements that make up a successful channel recruitment game plan
• Target the right partners. Know your target partner sets and know your unique value prop. Partners care about relationships, product momentum and partnering economics. So focus on your strengths in relation to those.
• Give partners a plan. Show your prospective partners the path to their first deal and subsequent deals is key.
• Pitch your business prop. Demonstrate the value a partner gets from partnering with you.
• Offer competitive programs. Use compete programs and focus on lead sharing, joing selling, monetary incentives
• Provide the right content. Which means different things for different partners. So know who your audience is and be targeted

Heather Margolis:
COVID has impacted people's attention focus so right now we don't see them looking for new vendor programs UNLESS they speak to a remote workforce specifically. We suggest an inbound recruitment campaign the includes a relevant piece of content about the partners business and how the vendor's solution will help them build/grow/enhance their business then ABM and Retargeting campaigns to specific Partners that have already been identified.

4. If content is the key how do you provide enough meaningful content – without partners rejecting it as making them the same as everyone else?

Mike Moore:
Offer a mix of content: a third from you, a third curated from industry sources, and a third from channel partners that they create with help and guidance from you.

Sal Patalano:
Deploy a PRM solution that can provide 100s if not 1,000s of options with respect to content. Identify the content that reaches your desk and ask yourself why it captured your attention. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Being original is always great but remember that this is all about “outcome.” The end does justify the means, so go with what works. Try taking the “Vuja de” approach (opposite of Déjà vu – look it up). Create content that is a bit provocative. People are bored hearing the same old same old. Give them something to think about. It’s a bit risky, but when it works, it really works! Nothing to create is going to be appealing to 100% of your audience – shoot for 10% - 15% and you’ll exceed your targets.

Heather Margolis:
Instead of letting the Partners co-brand and try to fool their prospects into thinking they created the content, simply have them endorse your relevant content. They're being honest that they work with you and getting that much more exposure for your already great content. This even works for MSPs if you're talking about video/webinar content if, when you build it, you're focused on business outcomes, not just promoting your solution.

Dan Overgaag:
Content is a tricky one. It has to come from many places. Your content, industry content, co-branded, partner generated. The content needs to be relevant, timely, actionable and insightful.  Secondly, be different by mixing up platforms and content type. The same piece of content and be pushed across different forums. 

5. Can your brand host something with partners as participants?

Mike Moore:
Of course. You can and should have regular calls and webcasts with partners. Keep them informed, share exciting news, pump them up, etc.

Sal Patalano:
Yes. We do this all the time. As a PRM company, we can sponsor any number of activities on behalf of our clients designed to retain or attract new partner accounts.

Heather Margolis:
Yes, a panel like the one we just did is great. It is then only relevant to the few partners and their audiences. If you can record a webinar then allow the partners to introduce you before sending out, they look like they're emcee'ing.

Dan Overgaag:
You definitely should. It’s a good way to be both authentic and credible with other partners

6. What is the easiest and most effective digital activity a channel partner can do themselves to generate leads?

Mike Moore:
There is no single, easy activity. It takes a mix of tactics to attract and develop interest. Consider video and podcasting since they’re quick and easy to create with everyday tools.

Sal Patalano:
Talk about an easy question 😊. There is no single activity that solves this equation. There are myriad variables that impact the answer to this question. I’m pleased to have this conversation in greater detail.

Heather Margolis:
Thanks for joining! I would say start creating short informative videos on their smartphone and posting them to LinkedIn. Super simple, they show their expertise, and it takes about 3 minutes!

Dan Overgaag:
I don’t think there is a single activity I would point to. But, I’d defer to the solutions sellers as to what they’ve seen drive success within their platforms. (Sal, Heather, Mike)

7. What are some of the main recommendation to a startup company, that delivers a low code integration platform, should have to attract partners to the ecosystem?

Mike Moore:
Focus on the solutions your partners will build for customers, not the tools or platform they used to build it. Customers don’t care what’s inside, with rare exceptions like the “Intel Inside” campaign.

Sal Patalano:
Step one is letting your target audience know you understand their business model. Next is making certain your CAMs (or whoever is making initial contact) understand the partner’s business model. They need to be more consultants than coverage reps. Let partners know that you will be with them from recruitment through onboarding, training, demand gen and close of their first deal. Next, create a very simple “money” slide. Explain in exceedingly simple terms how they make money with you and support that with your value prop. Finally, seed the market with a few partners to whom you offer a deal they can’t refuse. Treat them as loss leaders and do whatever it takes to get them on board, even if it means losses for the first 6 months. Get them to agree to act as references. If they are well known in your target demographic, even better.

Heather Margolis:
Testimonials! Get some current Partners to talk about why they enjoy working with you and what it's done to benefit their businesses. If they can do on video, all the better.

Dan Overgaag:
Step 1 – build a parter value prop. As mentioned earlier, partners look at relationships, momentum and economics when determining who to partner with. You wont be the best at all three, but focus on your strengths as an attraction lever and understand your weaknesses. For instance if you technology is cutting edge and top of the line – then focus on that. Remember though, focus your message on what that is good for partners (don’t get trapped into a customer centric view)

8. What are the top 3 areas where you can bring value to partners right now?

Mike Moore:
i. Help them meet prospective buyers
ii. Equip them with snack-size content that can be used to attract and nurture prospects

Sal Patalano:
By deploying a single platform PRM solution that delivers Channel Operations, Marketing Automation and Sales Enablement. Partners are asking for more and more these days, and that will only amplify over time. The more they feel as though they are a “high touch” account, the more they will support your products and solutions.

Heather Margolis:
1. Educate them on actionable ways they can drive demand. Make it simple and easily digestible. 
2. Communicate to them when/where they want to be communicated with. That may mean giving the content you're sending via email to your CAMs to get them to push out. Make it simple. 
3. Provide Partners with the type of content they will use and can send out in 3 easy steps...not that make them must launch a full blown 17-piece marketing campaign.

Dan Overgaag:
• Keep your training and content portals free and open. Partners are still struggling, and this is an easy win
• Support their demand gen. Remote selling is difficult
• Communicate relevant information – share best practices and things that you are seeing around your partner ecosystem.

9. How do you build strong relationships with partners digitally?

Mike Moore:
By being human… put a face to your company, allow time for creating connections, telling stories, talking about your kids or pets. You’ll have time to get to the work content but use this opportunity to make things personal and check-in with people.

Sal Patalano:
By practicing what you preach. Demonstrate your savvy in all things digital and support those practices with a bit of school methodology. For example, as inquiries are received, follow up with physical contact of some type. Personally, I still believe “tactile” (hands on) connections are the best. This will demonstrate to the partner that a) you know how to swim in the digital sea, and b) you know how to leverage opportunities resulting from digital campaigns.

Heather Margolis:
Get your multiple channel leaders to engage with Partners on LinkedIn. Hire an intern or agency to connect with all partner executives relevant to your business then start posting though leadership content in addition to your comms and interact with partners by liking, reposting, and commenting.

10. How do you target Technical Personas? They don't like Marketing Comms, they don't like newsletters, but they are important! Seems like traditional and digital channels won't reach them?

Dan Overgaag:
Be authentic. Be available for partners, ensure you are connecting with partners in a meaningful way. Then, be sure partners see and understand the steps you are taking to support them.  Being authentic, without support will lose its sway quickly. 

Mike Moore:
Agreed, this is the Reddit crew. They want to have a destination they can reach to read/watch content that pertains to their needs.

Sal Patalano:
I respectfully disagree. My experiences at IBM, CA Technologies and Lenovo would support just the opposite. I found that my tech personnel – ranging from support through QA and development – were constantly swimming in the digital world. The difference is that they are exceedingly selective in terms of what they choose to follow up on. White papers are very 90s and tend to not work. However, technical webinars and various type of free training have been successful. To be clear, we are not talking about tech training on your product! Consider offering tech training in some area that is on their radar – Microsoft, cybersecurity, disaster and backup recovery, etc. Techs love “free,” and they particularly love it when it adds to their resume or educates them in a critical area.

Heather Margolis: Reddit

Dan Overgaag:
Chances are they don’t like Marketing Comms because its not relevant to them. Re-examine your personas to ensure you know their care-abouts and communication preference. Then push comms through whatever engine is best aligned to their persona – and as always make sure the content is relevant.

11. For partners that are still tied to face to face events to create pipeline, do you think this will be a blip before return to normal, and how do you correct this view that a more digital focus is here to stay?

Mike Moore:
Not a blip. They must diversify their tactics. They cannot afford not to.

Sal Patalano:
Personally, I do believe this is a blip. That being said, the only thing that will correct the view is time and actual events. The moment people begin to meet in person and it’s doesn’t result in cluster outbreaks, there will be an upward trend in terms of returning back to normal. One channel company has started offering invitation only face-to-face events that are being limited to 20 participants (with full precautions in place). My understanding is that they are having zero difficulty in getting participants to commit (I am one of them). Human beings are tactile creatures! We are driven to connect, both personally and in our jobs. Nothing – not even a deadly virus – is going to change that. I’ll concede that it will take time, but not as long as the pundits are telling us. Keep in mind that good news is defined as bad news. No one is interested in reporting how a small trade event was held with zero problems.

Heather Margolis:
I think it will be a long time before we feel comfortable going to an event where someone is just trying to sell to us and over the past 5 months we've proven we can do it remotely. We need to help Partners drive demand today through social selling/targeting, inbound campaigns, and virtual events.

Dan Overgaag:
I think a more digital focus is here to stay. There is always going to be a place for face to face events, don’t get me wrong. But, partners and vendors have seen that it’s not necessary – look at some of the earnings this year. As a result, the reliance on expense events is likely to decrease and good vendors and partners will be diversifying their approach and focus to include digital/remote/online.

12. How can you recruit partners right now with marketing?

Mike Moore:
Using a model that shows your prospective partners the path to their first deal and subsequent deals is key. Partners don’t have the resources to invest in a new partnership without a clear understanding of how long it will take to monetize their investment.

Sal Patalano:
By practicing what you preach. Demonstrate your savvy in all things digital and support those practices with a bit of school methodology. For example, as inquiries are received, follow up with physical contact of some type. Personally, I still believe “tactile” (hands on) connections are the best. This will demonstrate to the partner that a) you know how to swim in the digital sea, and b) you know how to leverage opportunities resulting from digital campaigns.

13. How to become relevant to the System Integrators among a huge list of vendors and competitors?

Mike Moore:
Focus on being the easiest to do business with and the most helpful when it comes to attracting new customers.

Sal Patalano:
Step one is letting your target audience know you understand their business model. Next is making certain your CAMs (or whoever is making initial contact) understand the partner’s business model. They need to be more consultants than coverage reps. Let partners know that you will be with them from recruitment through onboarding, training, demand gen and close of their first deal. Next, create a very simple “money” slide. Explain in exceedingly simple terms how they make money with you and support that with your value prop. Finally, seed the market with a few partners to whom you offer a deal they can’t refuse. Treat them as loss leaders and do whatever it takes to get them on board, even if it means losses for the first 6 months. Get them to agree to act as references. If they are well known in your target demographic, even better.

Heather Margolis:
Partners are going to do business with the company that A) has a solution they can sell and is reliable, B) understands their business and isn't going to make them jump through a million hoops if it doesn't directly benefit them, and C) Provides them with easy to use, impactful content/resources they can use right away.

Dan Overgaag:
Like mentioned in other questions – focus on your partner value prop. You need to uncover your particular value to partners in order to stand out. Could be ease of doing business, could be incentives, could be your solution market momentum.

14. Any input on Latin America Partners ecosystem?

Mike Moore:
The most basic requirement is offering content to them and for their use in Spanish and Portuguese, which may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many companies don’t do this. Other than that, consider how you can localize content with case studies from the region so that prospects can identify with the examples given. This also may seem obvious, but brands miss this all the time. It’s even true for the US and EMEA. US customers are much less likely to consider a case study for a European company. Strange, but true.

Sal Patalano:
Having done business in Latin America for 20 years out of Miami, this is always an interesting topic. Rule number one, LA is not one region. Every country does business differently and they expect you to understand that. Second, LA partners do business with local organizations. It is extremely difficult to get attention, or business, if you are operating out of the US and do not have boots on the ground. LA businesses establish long-standing, trusted relationships with their vendors and their customers. And while I’m sure things have changed a bit in the last 5 years, do not expect a mass shift in this business model. If you cannot create a physical presence in-country, I suggest teaming up with a well-respected distributor. It will cost you some margin, but it’s much more cost efficient if you are expanding on a limited budget. And finally, deals happen slowly. I have personally been in involved in dozens and dozens of medium-to-large deals in LA, and typically it’s 2 days of socializing and 2 hours of business. Oh yeah… make sure your team speaks the language. While everyone in the major LA cities speaks English, nothing will kill a deal faster.

Heather Margolis:
Over the years we have found that LatAm partners need a bit more hand holding and that their prospects need things localized. Video is super easy to localize with subtitles and the Partners own video. Like this.

Dan Overgaag:
Make sure you have an engine/process to drive localization.

LINKS:

Questions & Tips: