What is Channel Marketing Strategy?

Variety is the spice of life, and in the channel sales world, that variety is key in making sure your customers can get your product when they want it, and how they want it. 

So what is “channel marketing strategy”. A channel marketing strategy is a plan for promoting and selling a company’s products or services through channels. These partners include wholesalers, retailers, distributors, and other types of resellers. The goal of a channel marketing strategy is to reach customers and markets that the company may not be able to reach on its own. It is used to increase the efficiency of the sales process and to reduce costs. The specific tactics used in a channel marketing strategy can vary depending on the type of channel partners involved and the nature of the products or services being sold.

The strategy is defining the goals, tactics and desired outcomes from your channel partners. 

In order to make sure that your channel partners are able to properly promote and support your products, you’ll need to make sure that they have the assets and materials to get your product in front of customers who are ready to buy. That is why it is critical to use a marketing platform designed specifically for channel partners. 

The Importance of Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA)

The best way to ensure that your partners have all of the brand and promotional assets that they’ll require is Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA). TCMA allows for consistency across marketing campaigns. Your branding, visuals, and language will stay the same across your partners with TCMA providing them with easy access to your company’s digital assets. 

Through Channel Marketing Automation Programs 

With a variety of TCMA programs available, it’s important to do your research to make sure the program will work for you in the immediate and long term. 

Features

Understanding what comes standardized, or can be upgraded for a fee, in your TCMA platform will give you the big picture of how the TCMA program can help your business. Understanding the intricacies like file management, user access and analytics will help you understand if you’re paying for features that will go unused. 

Data and Brand Asset Security

In a digital world, security is paramount. Understanding your TCMA platform’s security measures will give you peace of mind knowing your digital assets are secure… or running for the hills to find a program that will give your data the security it deserves.

Affordability

Money talks, and sometimes it’s the final say when justifying a business expense. Finding an affordable, but effective, TCMA program is worth the extra effort. Don’t pay for features that go unused, while your core business needs are ignored. 

Ease of Use

If a TCMA program is too complicated to get the hang of quickly, it simply won’t get used, and will be slashed from the next quarter’s budget. Don’t bounce from TCMA platform to platform; save yourself time and money by understanding what onboarding and training look like, and how quickly you’re able to actively use the program.

Reporting and Analytics

It’s hard to justify marketing expenses if you don’t know their ROI. A comprehensive TCMA program should easily outline your campaigns’ effectiveness, and their overall impact. Proactive reporting helps to facilitate transparency with partners and recognize their efforts and impact.

Deciding to work with channel partners is one of the best things a poised business can do to increase its revenue, without increasing its internal teams. With the extended external workforce comes a unique set of needs to make sure that consistency is maintained across branding and marketing presence. A Through Channel Marketing Automation program eliminates the need for modifying content and loading it into their marketing automation. This helps partners save time and reduces friction. Learn more about xAmplify’s TCMA platform here.

What to Look for In Partner Portal Pricing

Investing in a partner portal is the right choice when it comes time to scale your business. With many options out there, it can be difficult to narrow down the right portal for you, and how it will impact your bottom line. Before committing to a partner portal, take time to examine their pricing, and the short-term and long-term value that you will get from the portal. Look for a B2B Saas company that can easily, and willingly, speak to the below points to make sure that you’re getting the best value for your monthly spend.

Set Up and Implementation Time

Time is money. And any time that is spent setting up your partner portal and walking through the training is time that isn’t spent on furthering business development. Get a detailed timeline on how long it will take the partner portal to be fully functional, and how quickly your team should feel confident when using it. Are training hours included in an initial setup fee, or are they extra? What if additional training is required? Ask these questions to make sure you don’t get any surprise fees tacked on at the end.

Customization

The level of customization required will depend on your business’ needs, but be wary about being upsold on customization features that might look nice, but not add a lot of value. Do you need a fully branded setup, or is a generic layout suitable for your needs? Can you upgrade the level of customization at a later date, or are you committed to your choice for the long term? Understanding your customization needs before signing up for a partner portal helps you narrow down what options are right for you.

Cost Breakdown

When it comes to the dollars and cents of your monthly bill, make sure you understand why the charges are what they are. Know whether or not you’re being charged per user, or by bulk sign-on. Ask how pricing is impacted if you bring another user on, and how quickly they can get access to the system. Ask if there are discounts for bulk users, or is it a flat fee regardless of the number of users you sign up. While the deliverables and usability of the product are integral to consider, the final pricing dictates your bill at the end of the month.

Contract Terms

The terms of your contract can often have an unforeseen impact on the cost of the partner portal if it needs to be amended for any reason. Understand how long your contract is in place, and look for the nuances in it. What penalties do you have to pay if you break your contract early? Are you guaranteed any price protection if your contract is extended? The fine print will give you a big-picture understanding of any contractual costs that might be incurred.     

A partner portal will help you seamlessly grow your business, but it comes at a cost. Understanding your business needs prior to engaging with a portal provider will help you understand the right questions to ask so that your portal provides you with as much value as possible. xAmplify provides advanced partner solutions your company cannot afford to live without. Learn more about our PRM pricing.

The Next Big Thing in Partner Portals in 2023

Implementing a partner portal is a game changer for many companies. As technology and partner needs evolve, the components of your partner portal need to adjust accordingly. Keep your partner relationship effective and profitable by looking for a partner portal that can provide tools that keep up with demand. 

Cloud Security

The increased normality of a mobile workforce demands that cloud security be a large component of a partner portal’s security measures. With 81% of companies experiencing a cloud security incident, the vulnerability of the cloud is real, and apparent. With a large increase in zero-trust practices across businesses, partner portals will follow. Zero-trust forces credential validation, regardless of the user. 

Partner Experience

The ease of doing business is one of the biggest drivers that influence companies when choosing a PRM. The usability of the product often ranks higher than the profit potential when selecting a partner portal. Partner portals need to implement easy-to-use practices and tailored experiences to stand out in the partner portal space. 

In addition to prioritizing overall experience, PRMs also need to ensure that the experience is as smooth for non-transacting partners. Partners who influence the customer need to be able to have easy access to product data and resources to finesse any customer interactions. 

Partner Analytics

In today’s data-driven world, quantifiable information is seen as an integral way of measuring success. Partner portals need to make data easily accessible, and easy to analyze. A focus on real-time, relevant data that can easily be extracted makes creating reports a breeze. Partners will both be able to understand profitability centers, as well as areas of opportunity. 

Specialization

Related to the importance of easy-of-use is partner portal specialization and customization. Partners don’t want generic portals; they need portals that help them understand their clients, and how they can best be served. To be the most effective, a PRM will provide niched-down resources and information that allows partners to be engaged and enabled to meet client needs and demands. 

Seamless Integration

With businesses requiring multiple applications to effectively run their business, PRMs understand the importance of aligning their product with others on their partners roster. Being able to pull data directly from a CRM allows the PRM to act in the most efficient manner for both vendors and partners. Clients are no longer satisfied with a piecemeal technology stack; they want seamless integration that scales their effectiveness. 

Is your partner portal ready to take you into 2023? xAmplify is poised to optimize your partner relationships with automated and integrated functionality that facilitates sales and partner success. We understand the nuanced needs that you have when scaling with partners. We’re ready to help you have the best year yet in 2023. Contacts us to learn more.

5 Things To Look for When Choosing Partner Relationship Management Software

When it comes to scaling your business, an integral component of your growth strategy will likely include channel partnerships. With that comes the need to manage those partnerships to make sure that the relationship is beneficial to both parties, that KPIs are being met, and that your channel partners are adding value to your company. There are so many elements of integrating and maintaining channel partnerships, that it is almost impossible to manage it all manually without gaps or errors. 

Enter Partnership Relationship Management Software (PRM). PRMs help you seamlessly integrate channel partners into your workflow from onboarding onwards, without missing a step, while also keeping track of metrics. With hundreds of PRM options available, it’s important to know what to look for when choosing a PRM, and how it will impact your bottom line. 

Ease of Use

One of the most important elements to consider when choosing a PRM is how easy it will be for your team and your partners to use. Consider your team’s daily activities, and how the PRM will help facilitate their roles. Do the same for your partners; are training files easily accessible? Can they easily register new sales?     

Implementation Timeline

You’ve decided to use a PRM because you’re ready to continue to scale. Don’t choose a PRM with a long lead time for implementation, or that requires excessive support or costs to install. Look for a company with an engaged team that helps walk you through demos and setup so that you’re not left trying to search for answers to your new program.

Integration of Current Programs

Don’t redo work already in place in your CRM or ERP. A good PRM will allow for easy integration of your files and tools to give you access to all necessary documentation. This will make things easier for staff and partners knowing they are using up-to-date data in familiar formats. 

Functionality for Company Needs

With so many PRMs available, you need to understand what features you want from a PRM, and how they will benefit your company’s growth. Some areas you will want to consider are: 

  • Onboarding: Central location for all training and introductory materials
  • Training: Easy access to training material for varying products
  • Marketing Programs: Ability to share data, launch new campaigns, and automatically co-brand materials
  • Sales Leads: Manage leads in a consistent way that allows access for you and your partners
  • Stats: Define and measure KPIs for success management  

Cost and ROI

The full cost of a PRM cannot be measured solely in monthly charges. Evaluate what processes are streamlined, and how much time will be freed up, allowing you to focus on areas with higher returns. The same will be true for your team as processes are optimized, giving them the flexibility to focus on nurturing their leads. 

Finding the right PRM is a chance for you to evaluate your immediate and long-term channel partner needs, and understand how different features will help you reach your goals. A PRM should help you strengthen your relationships with your channel partners by making processes and procedures easier for you both. 

xAmplify is a PRM designed to make your channel partnerships easier to manage, and more profitable. Set up a time to talk to one of our representatives to see how xAmplify can help take you to the next level. Contact us today.

The Stages of Channel Partnerships and When You need to Level Up

Channel partnerships are an integral component of SaaS sales that lets your company expand its reach and industry impact, without adding to your headcount. With the global IT market reaching over $5 trillion dollars, there is ample room for channel partnerships, and using them to your advantage will benefit your staff, your company, and your bottom line.

Building a Successful Channel Partner Program

Creating a sustainable, profitable channel partner program takes thorough research prior to launch, and careful maintenance throughout your partner relationship.

Determine the Kind of Partners You Want to Work With

Though your partners aren’t employees, you will be working very closely with them, and want to forge a mutually beneficial relationship. Evaluate if their capacity and goals align with your needs, and if they have access to markets you want to break into. Are they the type of partners that you’re looking for? With different kinds of partnerships available with retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and more, you need to determine where and how you want your partners to expand your market reach.

Get in Touch

Think of the next stage like a courtship; you and your potential partner are getting to know each other, and seeing if you’re a mutually good fit. Have transparent dialogue that delves into what their needs are from a partnership, what your potential hurdles could be, and how they will help you stand out in a new market. 

Establish a Partnership Agreement

Now is not the time for handshake deals. Formalize your partnership with items like clear objectives, strategies and tactics, and partner resource allocation. Partner agreements keep both parties accountable to the standards and expectations of the partnership. Integrate metric tracking into your agreement so both you and your partner can measure the level of success they achieve. 

Develop Effective Onboarding and Communication Practices

Your channel partners can’t sell products they don’t know about. This step often isn’t as fine-tuned as it should be, and it gets partnerships off to a rocky start. Supply them with product information, brand standards, sales training, and more through a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) program like xAmplify to streamline the onboarding process. 

Provide Ongoing Support and Incentives

Keep your channel partners engaged with ongoing engagement and incentives to encourage their team members to put their best effort forward with your sales. Commission, a wholesale discount, or a sales performance incentive fund (SPIF) are common incentives provided to channel partners.

Growing Your Channel Partnership Program

In time, your channel partnership program will mature, and you will need to reevaluate current practices and see what you need to change or implement to continue its growth. When you are ready to scale your partnership program evaluate:

  • Channel analytics
  • Objectives and tiers
  • Expanding to include a different kind of partner type

However, the most important task to implement when looking to scale your partnership program is implementing the right PRM. It creates consistency throughout all of your channel partners, and gives them instant access to product lines and details, onboarding and training materials, and detailed analytics. The right PRM scales from just managing partners to enabling them with just-in-time content for marketing, sales and customer success. Not every PRM is designed to scale. xAmplify’s PRM is designed to help you grow as your program needs grow. Learn more by contacting us. 

Why is Partner Relationship Management Software Critical for Your Channel?

In the ever-evolving professional landscape, and the total integration of cloud applications, using a quality partner relationship software is more important than ever. A PRM takes you from partners to teammates, integrating and managing complementary priorities as you manage goals, targets, and sales.  xAmplify is a PRM designed and built with partners in mind; we eliminate friction, and implement automation for engaging, managing, and educating partners.

What is a PRM?

A Partner Relationship Management program streamlines the process of companies that engage in channel partner programs. PRM software allows for portal management so partners can easily access your company’s program, while also allowing them to access leads, register deals, and analyze sales metrics.  {link to article about PRM}

How does a PRM Impact Business?

Using a PRM reduces duplication of work, and creates a standardized, yet customizable, process for all channel partners. A PRM gives you control of your partner program and allows you to optimize it as a revenue-generating asset.

A PRM establishes strategic business standards and provides easy access through a partner portal where partners can find a number of resources.

Onboard Partners

Training documents and resources can be housed in a PRM to ensure your partners have access to all required onboarding documents. From product orientation to marketing briefs to lifecycle statistics, a comprehensive training program can be uploaded to the partner portal.   

Lead Management

Minimize the duplication of leads through a lead management component in a PRM. Eliminate having to track down a lead status, or asking for updates; both you and your partners can see and share leads as they come in. 

Reduce Length of Sales Cycle

With efficient lead management, and deal tracking, sales cycles are reduced, resulting in faster sales. Deal registration lets partners register deals that syncs directly with Salesforce without any customization or hassle, removing yet another barrier to finalizing the deal.

Partner Insights

Take the guesswork out of your partners’ engagement. Built-in analytics let you assess your partners’ engagement with your program, campaigns, and content. Eliminate partnerships that don’t serve you, and reward ones that do. Evaluate partner growth and impact on revenue from your partner dashboard.

Integrated Content

Marketing asset distribution is made easy with a PRM, as you can create and upload marketing materials directly to the PRM. Reduce the amount of time spent managing marketing materials; partners can download content as a PDF or HTML.

xAmplify’s partner program solutions help you unlock revenue potential across your partners, while also establishing sustainable revenue growth, and end-to-end pipeline transparency. A PRM is a great first step in your program maturity. To learn more about how to digitally transform your channel business, contact us at xAmplify. 

3 Secrets to Smart and Successful Channel Relationships

What does a successful channel relationship look like?

That was the first question we asked channel influencer Stephen Denny in our webinar. The “Killing Giants” author has been in the channel for a very long time. He and Sudhir, our CEO, discussed what these relationships look like to them. 

Here are some of our key takeaways. 

1. Your partner’s view of success is different than yours. Find out what their view is and make sure your views align. 

2. Your partner relationships need to involve many people. If your channel manager or your point of contact on the partner’s side leaves, you’ll be out of luck. You avoid this by having more than one person talk to your partner. 

3. Grow and maintain a relationship through regular contact. Unlike marketing automation software, relationships can’t be set up and run automatically. They take work.

To see the recording and to hear about future webinars, register below.

4 Ways You Can Engage Your Partners

Your partners may not be your customers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send them information. Contacting your partners on a regular basis ensures that you’re regularly interacting with them. It also keeps your partners in the loop on any industry news and changes that may be occurring. 

You probably already send your partners a newsletter on a monthly or quarterly basis, but sending a weekly or biweekly email goes a long way in maintaining your partner-vendor relationship. This email can include industry news, sales and marketing best practices, and any company news that affects them. 

However, you don’t have to stick with emails. You can tag your partners in your social media posts when publishing your blog or remind them on Twitter of your latest partner webinar. You can send them a video message introducing your latest product or just to say “happy holidays”.  

4 Types of Partner Marketing Messages

In addition to your regular newsletter, here are 4 other messages you should send your partners. These messages ensure that your partners are apprised of any important changes or events and kept in the loop on industry news, while also helping them stay current with their skills. These messages provide the benefit of growing your partner-vendor relationship as they show your partners that you’re invested in them and their success, as well as your own. 

The Welcome Kit

This should be the first thing you send your partners. The welcome kit helps familiarize your partners with your partner program, processes, and your partner portal. This should be a sequence of 5 emails sent within the first few weeks of the partnership. 

The first email should be a welcome message introducing the partner to their channel manager and explaining the onboarding process. If you choose to include a video message with this email, it should be a minimum of 60 seconds. The following emails after that should introduce your partner program, your products, and your partner portal. You may choose to use videos for these introductions as well. If you choose to use video, then the video can be 2 to 5 minutes long as you are introducing and explaining how things work. 

Finally, you should include a summary email restating the information given in the previous emails. This final email should also include their channel manager’s contact information and links to any resources they may find useful. 

The Weekly News Brief

This is a single email containing any relevant industry news, company news, and other information that your partners can use to plan their upcoming week. This email should also mention any upcoming events that partners may be interested in attending and should include links to further information. 

You can also include any sales or marketing tips that your partners may find useful. You can also mention a blog post you read or a podcast you listened to make the email sound more personable. This email can be sent early Monday morning or on Friday the previous week. 

Notifications About Events Your Partner May Like to Attend 

Like your customers, your partners should also get notifications for company-hosted events that are relevant to them. These can be partner-exclusive events such as “meet and greets” that allow partners to meet their channel managers in a less corporate setting. They can also be events open to anyone such as trade shows and industry conferences.  

Along with the emails and reminders about the event, your partners should also receive an additional email(s) with tips on how to get the most out of the event. You can send them tips such as how to estimate the number of business cards they’ll need to hand out at the event or best practices on following up with potential leads after the event. 

Surveys Asking for Your Partners’ Opinions 

Surveys are a great way to ask your partners questions about your partner program, your products, and their overall impression of your company. These surveys should be sent out on a regular basis such as quarterly or annually. You want to send your surveys frequently enough to spot emerging trends, but you also don’t want to annoy your partners by sending them too frequently. You may need to do some testing to find the frequency that works best for your partners. 

To find out more about when and how you should survey your partners, take a look at our post on why you should survey your channel partners

Thank Your Partners

Everyone loves feeling appreciated. They want to know they’ve done a good job, made important contributions, and that you recognize those contributions. Thanking your partners for a good quarter, helping you win an award or other important contributions goes a long way in generating goodwill. 

While you can certainly send them an email expressing your thanks, why not give your thank you a more personal touch. Sending your partner a video message expressing your thanks shows that you’re sincere. Video messages take time to make and won’t give your partner the impression that you’re just “checking the box” on having a good partner relationship. 

Conclusion

By communicating with your partners on a regular basis, you increase their engagement and grow your relationship. First, you should send them a welcome kit to make sure your relationship gets off to a good start. This shows your partners that you’re willing to invest in them and their success. The other messages you send will only reinforce that impression. 

You should send them a weekly news brief with professional development tips, company and industry news, and anything else they may find relevant. This builds upon the good impression you made with the welcome kit and sets you up as an authority they can contact when they have questions or need advice. You should also send them notifications for any events you think they may be interested in and include tips on how to make the most out of those events. This can help your partners get more leads and grow professionally, making them more likely to attend those events in the future. 

Also, send them regular messages thanking them for their contributions. These messages show that you recognize their work and appreciate them. Keep sending them your newsletter as well. This should include their successes and recap any major updates, news, and other events that occurred during the month or quarter. Finally, you should be sending them regular surveys to get their feedback. This shows your partners that you’re interested in their opinions and are invested in their success. 

Video Messages to Engage Your Partners

For the past few years, video has been on the rise. According to a survey done by Lemonlight,  99% of respondents liked watching video content from brands. 98% of those respondents also believed that video will play a larger role in the future. However, video doesn’t just have to be for your customers or your partners’ customers. You can use video to generate more partner engagement. 

Unlike a monthly newsletter, videos can feel more personal. Your partners are also more likely to watch them than read an email. But definitely follow up with an email. 

Videos also take more time to produce letting your partners know you’re taking the time to provide them with a good experience. If sent early enough, they can also help you and your partners start off on the right foot. Video helps you improve the partner-vendor relationship and increase your reputation among your partners, making them more likely to recommend you to their customers. 

Video Messages You Should Send Your Partners

There are 3 kinds of messages that you should use video for: a welcome message, an end-of-the-year message, and messages about product, company, or partner program updates. Including video in these messages can make them feel more personal to your partner.  

Introduce Your Partner to the Important Things 

Video is a great way to introduce your partners to yourself, your company, and your partner program. You should start with a greeting video from yourself and the channel manager that your partner will be working with. This video should be short, about a minute long, and let the partner know how to reach their channel manager. It should also let them know the next steps. 

The next part of the campaign can be a series of emails introducing your partner to the partner program and their partner portal. You can also send them a series of short videos that teach them how to do common things such as accessing marketing collateral and registering a deal. These videos/emails will quickly onboard your partner and start your relationship on a positive note. 

The End of The Year Message

Instead of sending your partners a generic happy holidays message, why not send them a video? With a video, you can end the year on a positive note by having their channel manager give them a personalized holiday message. As it’s the holidays, you can get creative in these videos by conveying your wishes in a festive way such as having your pets dressed in holiday wear and holding up a festive sign. 

You can also follow up the holiday message with a more formal email reminding your partners of any end-of-the-year housekeeping they need to do such as getting in their MDF requests before the deadline or registering any last-minute deals. This type of message aims to end the year on a positive note and lets your partner know you’re thinking of them. 

Product, Company, or Partner Program Updates 


These updates aim to keep your partner in the loop on any new products you release, any changes you’ve made to your partner program, major product changes, and more. This is a good way to personally explain any major changes that could affect your partner. It’s also a good way to demo your new product to your partners and get them excited about it. 

Aside from keeping your partners in the loop, these videos can convey your excitement about working with your partners. Videos can show a lot more emotion than can be conveyed through an email, so they can show your enthusiasm about new changes that benefit your partners, upcoming events, and any other great news you want to convey. 

Sending Video Messages with xAmplify

You can use our video campaign feature in xAmplify to send your partner these video messages. After you have your videos created, the next step is to create a campaign. You can do this on the xAmplify platform in just a few steps. 

  1. Upload your video into the content section
  2. Create your video template in the design section
  3. Create your video campaign in the campaigns section
  4. Schedule or send to your partners. 

To see how video campaigns work in xAmplify, contact us.

 Conclusion

Video is a great way to engage with your partners. It helps keep your partners in the loop on any changes that affect them and introduces them to new products. It also makes a great impression on them when you use video during the onboarding process and helps them get to know their channel manager better. Using it at the end of the year helps conclude the year on a positive note and strengthens your partner-vendor relationship. 

Trust Factors: How to quickly build trust in your partnerships

Good partnerships are built on trust. But how do you get your partners to really trust you? What factors should you consider? Dr. Paul Zack answers these questions and more in the latest Partnernomics episode. Dr. Zack is currently a professor of economics at Claremont Graduate University and joins host Mark Brigman, to talk about his new book Trust Factor.

Here’s what we learned:

-Relationships need to be built intentionally in order for them to work

– High performers want chances to grow. If you’ve got a really high performing partner, make sure they have opportunities to grow with you. 

– At a minimum, once a month, video chat with your partners to build/maintain trust.

– To get to know your partners better, put them in a stressful situation (ex. Take them skydiving). This gives you an idea of how well you’ll work together in the future. 

– To build trust with your partner, you can give them a medium-stakes project to handle. This will also help you judge how well the partnership will work. 

Listen to the full episode here for more insights into what factors affect trust both in partnerships and your own organization.