In the latest episode of Changing Channels, Larry Walsh gives us the details of cloud adoption in the channel. Over the last few years, the cloud has been the transformative force in the channel. It’s made vendors and partners change the kinds of solutions they sell and how they sell. This episode gives us the results of a 5-year study conducted by Ingram Mirco Cloud and Channelnomics.
Here’s what we learned
$1 out of every $5 of partner revenue comes from the cloud
Emerging tech such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables are growing and becoming a larger share of partner revenue
80% of partners want to expand their cloud offerings
63% of partners don’t have a general business plan. Partners are not prepared for the dynamic cloud market.
We highly recommend watching the video instead of just listening to the podcast as it contains graphs and other visuals that make sense of the data. Watch it here.
Most businesses that work with channel partners enter the relationship to grow revenue. The desire is that each partner will generate leads and deals from their current clients and connections. The hope is that partners will actively market to grow the number of deals beyond their current connections. In reality, not every partner is able to achieve these expectations. In fact, only 20% of partners generate 80% of channel revenue.
There’s a reason for this — The Pareto Principle. It says 80% of results come from 20% of the effort. This rule applies to partnerships, too.
Most companies will sit back and accept this as their reality. In our experience, we see underlying problems that keep partnerships from breaking through this barrier.
Most partners lack a clear sales process to be able to sell your product or service.
Your product or service needs to fit into the partner’s marketing capabilities.
You have limited bandwidth to support partners equally.
What makes a successful partnership
Partnerships are successful when they align with both companies’ goals. In most businesses, success is measured by revenue. When you’re looking to create successful partnerships, consider these factors:
Trust levels: First, you must trust the business with which you’re partnering to do the right thing for you and themselves.
Willingness to communicate: Partnerships require easy, consistent communication to keep teams apprised of the latest company developments and direction. Treating partners as an extension of your team is a great way to think about the level of communication needed.
Follow-through: Any company can say they’ll do what you need. Look for those who can demonstrate their effectiveness at coming through for their partners. Partners will focus on the companies that are giving them mind share.
That seems easy. Why can’t more than 20% of partners contribute more revenue again?
If you follow the success factors from the previous section, then every partnership can be successful. If your company is small with a handful of partners, then you can easily manage. If you have hundreds or thousands of partners, on the other hand, execution is really hard.
As mentioned earlier, companies with partner or channel marketing and sales teams have more requests from partners than they can ideally manage. You end up focusing on the top-performing partners and making sure they have a clear understanding of sales and market development processes.
Partners do not sell your product or service exclusively. They tend to focus on what is easiest to sell. If they don’t get the right information or collateral at the right time, they will move on to the next company.
Partners need to know how to sell to their current customers, and they also need help to fill their pipeline. The companies that can fill their pipeline become invaluable because it helps them grow. This can be challenging.
How do we overcome this and engage all our partners?
To overcome the Pareto Principle and engage more than 20% of your partners the right way, you need to make sales enablement and marketing programs scalable across all partners. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you develop or revamp your partner program:
Make life simple for partners. Use a PRM to communicate and share information. Ideally, choose one that uses automation to co-brand marketing collateral and make things easy for them to share.
Fill your partner’s pipeline. Provide complete lead generation marketing programs they can implement easily. Provide funding to support their marketing programs.
Help them close. Share leads so they feel you have a vested interest in their success and enable their sales team to close deals and sales efforts. Measure everything: Data will give you insights on which partners need more help. It also shows you which marketing collateral and campaigns are working and which need addressing. Get attribution to make sure you reward partners correctly for generating leads and deals.
Make it easy for yourself. Use a platform to scale these items for each partner. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the 80/20 rule.
xAmplify replaces friction with automation to help partnerships scale marketing automation and sales enablement across all your partners — not just 20% of the most active. To see how xAmplify can improve and amplify all your partner relationships, request a demo.
In the world of partnerships, challenges show up frequently for those looking to expand their programs and keep up with the changing ecosystem. Partner relationship management (PRM) systems help you do that in a way that boosts sales while streamlining the processes that make your channels work. The key is understanding which platform meets both the current and future needs of your organization and helps maintain sales growth throughout the process.
What is a PRM?
At its core, partner relationship management is software that facilitates the management of partnerships. It also helps with streamlining marketing and selling products across partnerships. These systems give channel sales managers and marketers the tools they need to connect and automate their current processes. A PRM combines all the essential strategies, methodologies, and steps for your partnership in one location, and helps all interested parties build, oversee and manage the relationship more effectively. PRM systems range from simple options that assist with the management of partnerships to those that automate essential tasks and provide clear data on the overall business relationship.
It is important to understand that a PRM differs from a customer relationship management (CRM) system. While they both help you grow your partnership, they do so in different ways and are not interchangeable.
Differences between CRM and PRM
Both CRM and PRM are relationship management tools, but they work in unique ways. A CRM collects and shares data in the direct-selling environment. It manages the sales sequence from lead generation through the purchase and afterward for increased visibility into the sales process.
A PRM manages the internal processes of partner organizations and their channel relationships. These tools combine the layers of a partnership for process alignment, improved workflow across channels, and clear goal-oriented strategies. PRMs incorporate communication, learning management, performance, and real-time progress into a single tool that facilitates reseller and manufacturer relationships.
Typical features in a PRM
PRM tools vary based on the size and needs of the organization, and the specific options they offer. However, most systems include basic functionality, such as
Automated partner recruiting and onboarding processes
Centralized online management portals
Simplified lead and deal registrations
Shared sales and educational resources
Quick commission payments
Forecasted channel sales and partner effectiveness
Assigned leads that prevent channel conflicts
Additional options and add-ons help partnerships tailor each tool to their specific needs.
When choosing a partner relationship management tool, companies bombard you with all the features that make them better than other options. However, there are important automation options that drastically alter the usability of a PRM – and how long each step takes for setup.
What PRM companies won’t tell you
There are several aspects of PRM implementation and streamlining that take considerable time and effort. When handling these tasks on your own, the processes often require days of emails, meetings, and approvals that take time away from more important aspects of running your business. The following are just some ways that xAmplify makes the entire partnership management process easier.
Co-branding across partnerships requires all parties to agree on specific details. With built-in logo merging, all it takes is the click of a button to use side-by-side branding that reflects both organizations. You can even create locked templates that prevent changes so your identity remains intact across content.
Integration between Salesforce and other tech stacks takes time, and they aren’t simple processes. xAmplify provides an automated Salesforce integration process that lets you focus more on strengthening and developing your channel relationships.
Onboarding requires an understanding of the individual partners and how they align with the overall goals of the company. With proper alignment and incentivization, onboarding partners becomes quicker and easier. Streamlining this process helps new partners redistribute your message, drive sales, and increase your reach faster. xAmplify’s platform is built for the onboarding process and makes it simple for partners to redistribute marketing campaigns.
xAmplify Goes Beyond the Typical PRM
xAmplify provides PRM solutions that help you grow your partnerships. With a truly automated system that prioritizes channel partners, we help your distribution channels achieve better results and higher sales. We simplify omnichannel, multi-touch campaigns and provide sales enablement for multiple partners, all with a single tool that automates processes for faster results. We help you save your time and resources so you and your partners focus on closing deals and seeing more revenue growth.
If you’re ready to choose a PRM that includes the power of through-channel marketing automation, schedule an xAmplify demo today to learn more.
If your company uses a partner program, chances are you’ve also instituted some sort of partner relationship management (PRM) system to keep track of partnerships. You probably are also looking for ways to leverage those partnerships for increased revenue, which is where partner revenue enablement comes into play.
Partner Relationship Management v. Enabling Partners
Partner relationship management is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the management of the mutual arrangement you have with partner companies. It’s a method for tracking the goals and standards you’ve set with your partners. Training and workflow are often pieces of the relationship management framework as well.
Partnership revenue enablement, on the other hand, is all about empowering your partners with the information, tools, and training they need to sell your product and increase your revenue. It’s an engagement approach that extends past just giving resources to your partners and expecting them to follow through. It invites their sales teams to join in your brand’s vision and gives them a playbook that shows them where they fit into your strategic plan so they can generate and close the right deals on your behalf.
Both concepts are integral to the success of your company’s through-channel marketing strategy. Technology makes them easier to execute, so long as you choose the right software for each.
PRM Software is not the Same as Partner Revenue Enablement Software
Most of the popular PRM software options out there provide tracking of the partner relationship. They let you share processes, training, sessions and other resources with your partners. The top PRM solutions are suitably robust and allow you to manage partnerships across the board.
Unfortunately, that robustness can work against your bottom line without the proper engagement and enablement to represent your brand as completely as your own teams do. When partners don’t have a playbook that’s easy to follow or a process to sell your product for you, they’re more likely to ignore your offering and find one that’s easier for them to sell. Those partners end up leaning toward other partnerships or miss key opportunities to impact your revenue because they don’t know the right information to make the connection on your behalf.
In contrast, partner revenue enablement software specifically addresses this issue and simplifies the sales process for partners. The best of breed for this type of software solution is full of time-saving features that make conversions easier for your partners. This includes giving your partners access to co-branded, multichannel campaigns and landing pages to full-tilt, scalable marketing across emerging and social media platforms. The top options also plan around compliance requirements and offer tracking and performance metrics so you can see how partnerships lead to revenue for your company.
The right partner revenue enablement software should be a scalable solution so you have increased capacity for more partnerships. Features like automated campaign tracking and partner engagement metrics, free up your staff to develop more relationships and further your company’s revenue potential.
When revenue from partner relationships matters, partner revenue enablement is crucial. Offer your trusted partners the right software to manage campaigns and produce leads for you.
Channel software tech solutions are used by companies to engage and grow partnerships as well as enable them to generate revenue. This tech stack helps companies attract, onboard, develop, enable, incent, co-sell with, manage, and measure partners. Forrester has released its Channel Software Tech Stack for 2021, and the message is clear: channel solutions are evolving rapidly.
As Forrester noted, the worldwide health crisis of 2020 inspired innovation in nearly every part of doing business, including how channel marketing works in a distributed, high-touch environment. Forrester’s research can be found here. Gone are the days when spreadsheets and person-to-person knowledge transfer were sound practices. Many tech companies capitalized on this digital transformation.
xAmplify’s suite of products already fits this model using “through-channel marketing automation” (TCMA). However, TCMA is just one way xAmplify works for you.
Channel marketers can enjoy the benefits of xAmplify for any aspect of their partner channel:
Partner Relationship Management
Partner Sales Enablement and Demand Generation
Tech Alliance and Ecosystem Marketing
xAmplify Purposely Designed
xAmplify’s solution is purposely designed to take the friction out of how companies and partners work together. With decades of experience as channel partners and value-added resellers, we bring unique insights into the problems experienced with many PRMs and partner portals. xAmplify was built from the ground up to eliminate common co-marketing challenges and facilitate the main goal for both companies and partners, revenue growth.
xAmplify Cloud & API Based Integration
xAmplify’s cloud and API-based integrated solution is what drives customer success. We focus on adding value for both businesses and partners. Faster setup with native integrations for channel programs means easier, scalable solutions. From the native Salesforce deal registration to 3-click campaign launch for partners, here are just a few ways xAmplify continues to stand out among the growing marketplace:
Fast setup: xAmplify gets your account and integrations set up in a matter of hours instead of weeks.
Native integrations: Deal registration connects to Salesforce without any custom development.
3-click campaign launch with automatic co-branding: Partners easily launch co-branded campaigns without much effort.
Integrated SPAM, GDPR, and CCPA Compliance: xAmplify maintains the latest privacy and data handling compliance as well as SPAM check to ensure your brand reputation is maintained.
Even with a growing ecosystem, a fundamental aspect of successful partnerships is providing an excellent experience with companies. xAmplify was designed with this in mind. xAmplify lets you provide your partners with access to a host of digital campaign marketing tools all in one place. From emails to videos, landing pages to online events – partners can co-brand and redistribute campaigns with a mere 3 clicks.
Build Your Ecosystem Today
Ready to take your partner channel to the next level? Consider a consultation with our growth experts so we can understand the current state of your channel program. Let us show you how you can customize the xAmplify platform to fit your unique channel needs and deliver the best partner experience to grow revenue.
The Channel Software Tech Stack for 2020 was published this week by Forrester Analyst, Jay McBain. We thought it would be a good time to explain our positioning in the market due to the sheer number of channel software tech solutions out there. xAmplify is pleased to be included in the TCMA category. Through-channel marketing automation is our primary technology classification; however, our platform accomplishes many different things for channel programs.
Channel marketers can enjoy the benefits of many solutions in one platform with xAmplify:
-Through-Channel Marketing Automation
-Partner Relationship Management
-Partner Enablement & Demand Gen
-Distribution of Co-branded Assets
-Tech Alliance and Ecosystem Marketing
-Launchpad to connect your learning modules, channel incentive programs, and more.
xAmplify Deployment and Integration
Our deployment and integration strategies are what drive our success. As shown in the Forrester report, we are the youngest SaaS provider in the TCMA space. Because we have the latest in technology development, our deployment and integration capabilities leapfrog that of our competitors.
Quicker deployment for Channel Programs
-Provision an account for immediate use in less than an hour
-Leverage single sign-on for streamlined access
-Easily integrated with your CRM to accomplish lead and deal registration
-Add partners in seconds for faster go-to-market
-Partners quickly launch campaigns in a few clicks
All of the accelerated deployment and integration process rolls up into our Rapid G2M solution. The idea is to provide a simple, yet powerful interface that doesn’t require additional enablement from internal headcount or outside agencies. All partners can quickly launch a vendor campaign without assistance. That allows channel teams to be more strategic and remove many repetitive tasks from their daily workload. More partners executing at one time results in faster growth quarter over quarter.
Integration for all of your Channel Needs, Not Just CRM
Many channel leaders look for solutions that can quickly and easily integrate with CRM, but our integration efforts go far beyond that. Integration with CRM makes your deal reg simple. In our standard solution, your current deal reg form will immediately be available in xAmplify. Along with that, you can repurpose your content from your other existing marketing platforms. Your partners will not need to locate branding guidelines because you have brand governance by partner type over all of your assets.
We would like you to consider a consultation with our growth experts so we can understand the successes and challenges of your channel program. We can show you how to customize the platform around your unique channel needs and deliver automation for many different workflows with your partners. Our automation will help ease demand, enable more partners, and drive revenue to new levels.
I’ll tell you the answer straight away: channel marketing creates a revenue opportunity three times larger than whatever you’re doing now. When you think of sales, channel marketing probably doesn’t enter the logic tree in your mind. You probably think any given Company has a Product or Service that they market directly to their Customers. Their Customers buy from said Company and use their Product or Service.
And it looks something like this:
What’s shocking is that this type of sales (direct sales) accounts for only 25% of global commerce, as estimated by the World Trade Organization. The whopping majority — 75% — of sales happen an entirely different way.
What is Channel Sales?
This 75% share of the global marketplace is selling to customers indirectly, in what’s called channel sales. This means they sell through channel partners, such as resellers, value-added resellers, distributors, referral partners, independent software vendors, and a few other types. Generally, these partners have a large, established customer base and a trust relationship with end-users that a manufacturer can leverage to their advantage. And it’s a two-way street for resellers—the retailer needs the product because otherwise they’d have nothing to sell!
For instance, a manufacturer like Honda doesn’t sell cars directly to consumers. Instead, independent dealerships open up shop and ship in Hondas from Tokyo to sell to the end customer. In another example, a company like TOMS shoes uses both direct and indirect sales to get their product into consumers’ hands (and onto their feet). You can find TOMS at several retailers and department stores along with a variety of other indirect offerings. But you can also go to the TOMS flagship store in Venice Beach California, and other TOMS stores, to buy directly from the maker.
Not all companies are oriented to channel sales and thus are not in need of channel marketing. For instance, a nail salon, a restaurant, or a tattoo shop wouldn’t sell through channel partners. These types of companies will always sell directly to the consumer.
However, many companies that can sell indirectly just aren’t doing it. They may not understand that channel sales opens up an entirely new revenue stream with far more potential customers than can be reached through direct sales.
And that looks something like this:
Channel marketing is to indirect sales as marketing is to direct sales
I repeat, channel marketing is to indirect sales as marketing is to direct sales. Think about that. In today’s inundated marketplace, no company can reach its customer base without a solid marketing effort.
And when it comes to direct sales (again, only 25% of the worldwide sales pie), there are billions of marketing dollars allocated, and thousands of software solutions adopted, agencies hired, and advertisements placed. There are CMOs and SVPs and DOMs running huge teams of marketers, from your content managers to your email experts, plus your social media leads, an array of copywriters for long-form and short-form content, not to mention the team of designers responsible for your visual brand identity. And this doesn’t even include the people working at those software companies and agencies who help run this well-oiled direct marketing machine.
When it comes to indirect sales (again, the far larger 75% majority), most companies don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps this is why so many companies that can sell indirectly aren’t doing it. They don’t have the bandwidth or the knowledge base.
There’s not nearly the breadth of agencies and software solutions available for indirect sales as for direct, and advertising through channel partners is a mystery. Thus, companies allocate far fewer resources and money to channel; it’s like a can of worms most brands are afraid to open. Instead, they try a half-baked, low-risk, manual approach bound for failure or just stick to what they know: direct sales. Rather than really trying to understand channel marketing, rather than devoting some R&D budget to figuring it out, they mostly avoid it…and they continue missing out on that 75% of the marketplace.
Channel marketing software versus direct marketing software
Reflecting the comparable ease of direct sales is the high number of resources the industry has produced to generate direct sales leads, automate direct communications, and track that customer data. There are hundreds of thriving CRMS and marketing automation tools to serve this purpose. Why is this so? Because data is the key to selling and automation is the key to delivery at scale. We can follow this same logic for channel marketing, and just add ease of use as the key to getting partners to participate in a co-marketing effort with your brand.
Fortunately, there are through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) solutions on the rise to fulfill these keys to success, but not all are created equal. If you’re ready to dive into channel sales, it’s important to know what you should be looking for when choosing a TCMA platform. Take the time to watch a number of demos and make sure you ask the right questions during those meetings.
If adopting a software solution still sounds overwhelming, try checking out a full service offering like xAmplify Sail. With this offering, we at xAmplify leverage our cutting edge software to act as your full service channel marketing team. So if you don’t find a product that’s right for your company, perhaps try a service to do it all for you. In any case, with the right resources in place, channel sales is likely to be a massive revenue driver for your brand.
A surprising number of indirect sales companies still function manually when it comes to co-marketing with their resellers, and have yet to adopt a TCMA platform (through-channel marketing automation platform). This seems to be most common among SMB and mid-levels unable to allocate budget to a solution and not quite foreseeing how a solution will actually enable them to rapidly scale. Lack of knowledge about evolving tech creates a huge missed opportunity.
These companies are blind as to:
The “who” (who needs TCMA?)
The “when” (is it time for my company to adopt a solution?)
The “why” (why do I really need this?)
And the “which” (which platform do I choose?)
Sound familiar? Then let’s fill in those blanks with an overview of the who, when, why, and which of channel marketing tools.
Who needs a channel marketing automation solution?
If you sell through indirect channels via resellers, distributors, ISVs, or VARs, you fit the “who” profile of a company in need of channel marketing automation. Doesn’t matter if you’re an SMB, mid-level, or enterprise. You fit the profile because these solutions are designed to help companies like yours scale your channel sales program, increase partner participation, extend your reach, and bring in more revenue via indirect pipelines.
When not executed through a TCMA platform, channel sales is an excruciating, overwhelming endeavor. If this overwhelm also sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, many SMB and mid-level companies don’t have a structured partner program in place because they’re limited by time and headcount. Things operate on a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, day-to-day basis dealing with partners, and long term growth hasn’t made it into the business plan yet.
For companies that live on both direct and indirect sales, many of them just say “forget it” to channel strategy altogether. It’s too labor-intensive and tedious to build. So they focus on direct sales instead.
When should I adopt a TCMA platform?
For those who are trying to maintain a partner program, but have yet to adopt a technology solution, channel sales is a daily struggle, with looming pressure to close deals fast rather than nurture the pipeline, and a scramble to put out fires as they constantly catch. If this—yet again—is familiar, if channel sales is a cumbersome process you’re thinking about giving up on, then your answer to “when” is NOW.
The pain and struggle you’re suffering is totally avoidable and a solution would be incredibly low cost compared to the return on investment. Let’s put it this way… A day in the life of a channel sales organization that hasn’t yet embraced through-channel marketing automation might go something like this:
You blast an email with a new asset to every partner. You don’t have analytics in place to see who opened it, much less who’s leveraging it for redistribution. You cross your fingers and hope a sale comes in through a partner. When few or none do, you reach out over the phone… One. Partner. At a time… to find out how it’s going. Did you get my email? Did you download the asset? Did your designers add your logo? Our designer left a whitespace for your logo. Are you going to redistribute the asset? The sale ends Friday, so we need you to redistribute no later than tomorrow. How many prospects will you send it to—is there any way you can track opens and report back to me?
Gasp! (Coming up for air).
Talk about exhausting. No wonder most SMBs and mid-levels have given up! Imagine having that conversation twenty times a day. Your partners would start avoiding your calls, stoking a whole new bunch of fires.
Besides being an exhausting and off-putting channel marketing strategy, the manual way is inefficient. Hours of time have been wasted in this instance, and likely with little yield. A TCMA platform would have deployed that initial asset, had the metrics to track it to and through partners to show who’s redistributing and to reveal the desired open rate downstream. And it would have taken a fraction of the time for both the vendor and the partner.
If a day in this life sounds like a day in your life… it’s time to stop struggling.
Why do I need automation for channel sales?
If you’re in channel sales and don’t have a through-channel marketing automation tool in place, why you need one should be implicit by now. But if you’re still not convinced, let’s look at some numbers.
75% of global sales are made through indirect channels. Your marketplace opportunity is massive. But…
That means 80% of channel partners aren’t doing much, because they need more than a phone call from you hounding them about redistribution. They need more than an email with a single asset and a whitespace for their logo. They need their hands held.
If you hold their hands, or use the right automation tool to hold their hands for you, you tap into that inactive 80% of partners. Get those guys and gals pushing your message to their customers, and your sales will start to skyrocket.
Ultimately, a new TCMA platform in the marketing tech stack will not only pay for itself, it will save you time, scale your partner program, and drive revenue. That’s why.
…But only if you nail the “which” part….
Which solution does TCMA the best?
There are a dozen or more platforms out there claiming to be TCMA tools. Many of them are portals and/or PRMs (partner relationship managers) that have been around for several years, and have retrofitted their platforms to “automate” co-branded messaging.
If your main need is real automation, through and through, then be extremely judicious when you come across companies like this. Until very recently the standard channel marketing practice was to hire one of these portals or PRMs as a common ground for vendors to store content—from whitepapers, to logos, to price sheets, to design assets. These platforms would deploy an email to partners letting them know when the vendor added something new, so partners were aware they could come collect.
And that was about as far as the automation went. From there, it was up to partners to log in to the portal (a single space shared with the vendor and other partners), download the content, add their own logos, upload and configure the campaign in whatever emailing software they were using, and redistribute.
There was still a ton of work required on the part of the partner. And there were still no metrics for the vendor. Not entirely helpful.
As this problem became more and more evident and technology evolved, new solutions started to emerge. Some are cohesive tools with end-to-end content storage, automatic co-branding, same-platform email functionality, and metrics included. This type of platform provides each partner with their own individual user instance, login, and dashboard so that list uploading and segmentation are secure and unlimited—which renders metrics and redistribution more accessible than they’ve ever been.
However, for PRMs and portals that existed previously and have now retro-fitted outbound automation (the email delivery and metrics aspect of co-marketing) the fact that they still simultaneously function in their old capacities makes them largely faulty; partner list uploading and same-platform email deployment are not compulsory, meaning metrics are non-comprehensive and unreliable.
If simple, end-to-end automation is what you’re looking for, schedule a demo with xAmplify, which was created at the turn of the TCMA revolution and designed specifically for through-channel marketing automation, not to function as a portal.
Industry is undergoing a huge change. A new era of business is being ushered in for supply chain management, with the adoption of industry 4.0 applications. These applications have the metrics insight to change the game when it comes to channel sales inventory, eradicating “just-in-case” warehouse supply and letting “just-in-time” inventory rule. Less waste, stable pricing and more profit.
The first companies to embrace this change and adopt this shifting technology will be the winners of tomorrow. They’re the ones using today’s cloud technology and software automation to communicate and forecast across inventory, manufacturing, and distribution. They’re the ones shrinking inventory margins and making optimization and streamlined corporate behavior necessary.
Just-in-case inventory is used by manufacturing companies that lack the ability to accurately forecast sales. They have to determine how much product they need to meet demand with the projections they have, which are based on incomplete data, economic patterns, or industry predictions. In other words, these numbers are estimates at best. Furthermore, they do not account for the demand of through-channel marketing, which results in indirect sales. A company that is unable to accurately forecast sales generated via channel marketing ends up producing this just-in-case inventory. This surplus results in wasted resources and warehousing space, and erodes the value of current inventory with the inevitable need to move that surplus product.
Alternatively, a company able to accurately forecast by leveraging comprehensive, through-channel metrics allows their business operation and supply chain to become one well-oiled machine. This results in producing far more just-in-time inventory. Just-in-time inventory is the most optimal position for a company. Before automation, IoT, AI, and data management applications, just-in-time inventory was almost impossible to achieve at the enterprise level. Today, just-in-time inventory is possible for all companies no matter their size, as long as the right metrics tool is in place.
The TCMA solution to your “just-in-case” supply
To put it simply, when the supply chain knows where both direct and indirect sales are coming from, they will know how much to supply. How can one get that kind of information? TCMA.
Supply chain teams with an optimal tech stack leveraging true automation can close the gap on just-in-case inventory by capturing comprehensive, through-channel data. And with the industry 4.0 era, there are TCMA software platforms with metrics features that not only track partner opens and redistribution of marketing materials, but also track and collect data on downstream customers. This indirect sales activity can be harnessed further upstream with the right visibility.
More accurate channel sales attribution, more profit
Furthermore, the fact that leads, opportunities, and deals are properly attributed with trackable data also resolves channel conflict across the board. With no channel conflict, companies know exactly where sales are coming from and what volume to expect. These supply chain companies will eventually incorporate revolutionary TCMA tools like xAmplify into their product management to accurately forecast supply and save billions of dollars they would otherwise waste on surplus. Change is constant, and innovation is key.
With the use of a full force TCMA platform, supply chain companies can see immediate snapshots of the health, inventory, and up-to-date manufacturing and production issues. Having insight will help streamline shipping and warehousing, resulting in the most optimal inventory outcomes on a day-to-day basis. The companies that are most efficient will have an inherent competitive advantage over their competition.
When you think of “influencer marketing” you probably imagine some young fashionista on Instagram or Youtube wearing, eating, drinking, using, or repping a B2C brand that paid for this endorsement. The value exchange here is that the brand gets access to the influencer’s sizeable and carefully curated audience—an opportunity to put their product in front of thousands of targeted customers.
What you probably don’t think of is how this advertising model so readily applies to your B2B distribution channels. If you’re in channel sales, today’s trend reports put you in a power position to dominate influencer marketing. The beauty of this trend for channel marketers with a successful co-branding strategy in place is that you’re already doing it!
…Well, for the most part. You understand partnerships and have already forged those important alliances with other companies. Now, with a few slight adjustments, you can easily turn your channel marketing into full-on influencer marketing using your partners as influencers, or their customers as influencers. The former is similar in time, attention, and principle to account based marketing. The latter takes a bit more work of course, but if you do have steady alliances with resellers or distributors, B2B2C influencer marketing is well within your grasp.
For now we’ll review the first, more accessible scenario and how to implement it in five steps. The following instructions assume you have solid distribution channels in place with the proper automation and metrics tools.
Using your channel partners for influencer marketing
Step 1) Find a reliable influencer ally among your distribution channels
You’ll need a channel marketing data analysis tool to collect this information. Some PRMs and portals have begun to build partner engagement metrics into their platforms. But not all of these are reliable or comprehensive, because not all partners use the email or social media feature of said platforms to carry out redistribution. This leaves a big unknowable gap in metrics tools retrofitted to a portal.
If you’re using xAmplify, you’ll have access to all the data you need with our Two-Tier metrics, because sending co-marketed email and social media campaigns from within the platform is compulsory for partners. Thus, the first tier of our metrics shows you a comprehensive view of which partners are redistributing your campaigns to begin with. This answers the question of who will be a reliable ally.
Step 2) Discover which of your most reliable partners have influence
The second tier of xAmplify’s Two-Tier Metrics answers the influencer part, because you’ll be able to see how many leads your channel partners are generating by redistributing your campaigns via email. You’ll be able to see if their pipeline customers are clicking, watching videos, and how long they’re watching for.
Due to strict social media regulations on consumer data and privacy, Two-Tier metrics does not cover social media analytics. But there is an easy solution to get data on click volume and region for social media redistribution; simply make sure your campaign includes a different trackable link (such as a bit.ly link) for each of the reliable partners you engage in this discovery. You’ll be able to see from this third party account which partners are pulling in the most clicks, and from what region or city.
Sussing out this engagement is the key to leveraging partners’ influence. Once you’ve got these pieces in place, watch and learn who has real influence as the data rolls in.
If you don’t have xAmplify, you’ll need to get your most reliable partners to share their own social media analytics reports with you. You may need to grant them some nice MDF to make this happen. Once you’ve collected the data, you can compare results to learn who’s generating the most leads with your content—and who is therefore the most influential.
Step 3) Initiate an influencer partnership
Once you know who of your distribution channels is reliable and who has influence, your next step is to propose the influencer partnership. What should this proposal and ensuing relationship look like? In the world of B2B marketing, the sales cycle takes a lot longer than in B2C, so having an influencer spread your word will take longer than the here-today-gone-the-next promotions you’re used to seeing with those Instagram fashionistas. All that to say—expect this partnership to last a year or more, and to have the MDF budget to incentivize a “yes.”
Step 4) Create content for your influencers
You’ve now set up a beautiful partnership, which will next result in highly targeted content being fed directly into a high ROI pipeline. You need to create said content specifically for this influencer partner and their unique audience.
This could mean partnering on a guest blog, a webinar or an ebook, asking this influencer to appear in your video content, speak on your podcast, or co-host one of your events. If the influencer partner is not a person but rather a company (likely the case with channel marketing), invite the founder or a highly visible company executive to be the “face” of this content.
Step 5) Target your influencers’ most successful platform for content distribution
Once the content is ready to go, carefully plan which social media platform your influencer will be using to blast it to their audience. If they have the highest following and engagement numbers on Twitter, curate your distribution in the form of Tweets. If they get amazing results on Facebook, then let it be linked posts. If Instagram is their bread and butter, make sure your visual content game is strong.
Keep feeding the influencer marketing machine and continue nurturing the influencer relationship for at least one year. Watch your channel sales soar.