Capture Attention in the Channel: The Power of Partner Simplification

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Partner sellers are inundated with options as multiple vendors vie for their attention. If your business fails to stand out, it risks being overshadowed by competitors and could result in your offerings going unnoticed or underrepresented in market. Yet capturing the focus of your channel partners goes beyond delivering superior technology and services; it’s also about making it easy to do business with you. By removing friction for partner sellers, you can amplify their efforts and drive higher sales and conversion rates, while keeping your solutions top of mind. In this blog, we uncover simple steps you can take to simplify your channel go-to-market strategy—enabling partners to prioritize your products, advocate for your brand, and invest in long-term partnerships.

Simplicity is king

The channel is an irreplaceable element of modern sales strategies. And for good reason! With partner-delivered IT technologies and services exceeding US$3.4 trillion in 2023 alone, the channel accounts for over 70% of the global total addressable IT market.1 The challenge? It’s getting crowded, as hundreds of thousands of vendors rely on channel partners to place, promote, and even retain business.1

In today’s oversaturated market, experts suggest that ease of doing business is your friend and a key differentiator in capturing attention in the channel. In fact, a recent industry report cited ease of doing business as the topmost attribute when partnering—ahead of potential financial rewards.2 By promoting simplicity and removing common complexities that hold sellers back, you can foster deeper relationships and much-needed mindshare that accelerates bottom-line results at partner accounts.

Enhance your channel program

Chances are, you’re already putting a considerable amount of time, money, and energy into the channel. You may have even stood up a dedicated channel partner program to improve knowledge sharing and collaboration between your business and your critical partner resellers. Unfortunately, despite significant investment, organizations are still struggling to identify where to invest or how to maximize the value of new and existing channel partners.3 With seemingly countless areas of focus, getting back to the basics could be the missing piece you need to simplify engagements and motivate channel partners with your offerings.

    Streamline processes
    From managing multiple vendors and solutions to navigating sales engagement and order entry processes, each vendor has its own, unique way of doing business. It’s often an overlooked pain point for partner sellers. Instead of forcing partners to fit your model, best practices suggest tailoring your approach to meet the channel’s needs.4 It includes simplifying order submission and deal reg workflows for sales reps, automating co-sell efforts, and expediting approvals on terms and exceptions. This can remove hassle and extra steps from a seller’s day-to-day engagement, improve sales cycles, and entice them to engage with your brand—instead of cumbersome competitors.

    Tailor resources
    One-size-fits-all doesn’t always work. As channel partners move away from generalized IT and into use case-driven selling, sellers need a cohesive message and readily available resources that directly align with their customer needs. By crafting joint messaging and co-branded marketing materials, you can equip partners with purpose-built and channel-friendly messaging. This can also help ensure that both businesses have a synergy and market and that product positioning aligns with larger sales motions and initiatives.

    Improve access
    Where partners go for resources also matters as critical assets can be buried, hard to find, or live in a multitude of locations. Partner portals can deliver information and assets to partners faster—and with less effort.5 However, out-of-date and difficult-to-navigate repositories dissuade sellers and create more inbound requests for your team to manage. Whether using your own partner portal or directly integrating with a partner’s internal repository, ensuring easy discoverability and access to marketing and sales materials reduces seller heartburn and equips partners with the resources they need, in the right place at the right time.

    Increase knowledge share
    Partner sellers can be an extension of your brand. Without proper training and support, they may lack what they need to effectively position or place products. By providing channel partners with the same level of service and support as your in-house reps, you build a more knowledgeable channel while improving sales cycles.6 This includes establishing partner accreditation programs, regular and routine communication touchpoints, and dedicated support and escalation paths. Training and resources should also be made available across regions and localized when needed, to help ensure consistent knowledge share across geographically dispersed sales organizations.

    Incentivize with a purpose
    While Market Development Funds (MDF) have long been a staple in channel marketing programs, 60% are not used on a quarterly basis.7 Why so? Partners have a lot of competing priorities, some don’t have the needed marketing resources, or lead times simply don’t allow for proper execution in market. For those offering MDF funds, experts suggest reducing the partner load to increase activity and participation. This includes aligning MDF campaigns with strategic and shared business priorities, providing channel marketing automation assistance and concierge services to lighten the lift on partners, and giving ample ramp-up time for program execution.8

In short, having a superior offering sometimes isn’t enough. Making it easy for partners to do business with you is a crucial element to differentiate your business in the channel, stand out from the crowd, and keep your solutions top of mind. By streamlining your go-to-market strategy, you can eliminate common friction points that dissuade partner sellers and stall business deals—unlocking more potential for your solutions.

  1. Canalys, Channel partners will drive more than 70% of IT spending in 2023, Aug 2023
  2. Channelomics, Ease of Doing Business: A High-Value Influencer, Oct 2023
  3. Medium, Saying You Have Channel Partners Doesn’t Mean You Have a Partner Program, Mar 2024
  4. Liferay, 11 Building Blocks for a High-Performing Supplier Portal, Jan 2024
  5. BigTinCan, The six biggest obstacles for channel partner sales programs and how to overcome them, Oct 2023
  6. WahooLearning, The Challenges of Channel Partner Training (And How to Solve Them), Sep 2023
  7. Zinif, Why Channel Partners Don’t Use Market Development Funds (MDF), May 2023
  8. Impartner, 5 Market Development Funds Best Practices to Maximize ROI, Jun 2023