How Automation Changed Marketing

Marketing automation has changed the way direct marketing is done. Companies like Marketo and Hubspot have made it easier and quicker for companies to repeatedly send marketing campaigns to a large number of people at once, to target specific audiences, and to generate leads. This change is happening in the Channel as well. 

Like direct marketing, marketing automation for the Channel often called Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) is making it easier for companies and their partners to generate leads. It also makes it easy for partners to send their vendor’s campaigns to their (the partner’s) customers.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation is the process of using technology to automate repetitive tasks such as sending emails, posting on social media, and more. It can also be used to personalize marketing campaigns such as addressing each campaign to a specific person. All of this personalization and automation make it easier to get qualified leads as with automation, you can send marketing messages to the right prospects at the right time. This frees up your sales and marketing teams to spend their time doing more important things such as market research and selling. 

Marketing automation has most commonly been used for direct marketing and sales for both B2B and B2C. According to Marketo, businesses that use automation grow their pipeline by 45% and their revenue by 25%

Automation also helps businesses respond to prospects faster by reaching the prospect through various channels and touchpoints. For example, a marketing campaign can be automatically set up to launch as soon as a prospect signs up for a webinar, fills out a form on the website, or downloads a whitepaper. It also makes it easy to stay in touch with prospects and customers which helps businesses stay relevant and is something most prospects and customers want. 

Marketing Automation and The Channel

While Marketing Automation has become the standard for direct marketing, it isn’t the standard for the channel. From what we’ve heard from our customers and prospects, it’s because of 2 reasons: awareness and adoption. Most of the people we’ve talked to don’t know that marketing automation can be used for the Channel and the people who did know about marketing automation haven’t adopted it for their business. This is either because they don’t see the need for marketing automation and don’t know what it can do for them or because they’re not ready. 

Through Channel Marketing Automation

Unlike direct marketing, channel marketing involves more than just the company and the person being marketed to. You’ve got yourself, your partners, and their prospects or customers, so your marketing has to go through your partners before reaching your target audience. However, TCMA can benefit the channel in the same way that marketing automation benefits direct marketing. 

Customers who use us or other TCMA platforms have experienced an increase in revenue growth for themselves and their partners and an increase in partner engagement. They’ve also gotten increased visibility into what their partners are doing with the marketing material they’ve been given. 

These platforms make it easy for partners to send vendors’ marketing campaigns as all the work has been done for them by the vendor. For example, partners simply have to upload a contact list for an email campaign and press send. However, these “done for partner” campaigns don’t just have to be email campaigns. They can be videos introducing new products, webinars or other event announcements, or even landing pages for special offers. 

Also, partners and vendors can easily co-brand campaigns such as joint webinars, coordinated social media posts for a new product launch, email campaigns for industry news, and more using a marketing automation platform as the platform will automatically insert both the partner’s and vendor’s information. All both of them have to do is add their content. 

Also like direct marketing automation, TCMA gives you the data you need to see how well your marketing messages performed. You’ll get metrics such as the open rate of emails, the number of views on a video, what links were clicked on, and more. However, with TCMA, in addition to metrics on how well your marketing messages did, you’ll also see partner metrics. You’ll see metrics such as the number of downloads for a piece of collateral, the number of times a campaign was reshared, the location of your partners’ contacts when they view your video, and more. With this data, you can see who your top-performing partners are and who you may need to talk to. 

Conclusion

TCMA has proven that it can change channel marketing strategies while making marketing easier for both partners and vendors. Vendors benefit from the visibility TCMA provides that allows them to increase partner engagement without requiring more time.  Both partners and vendors are given the freedom to focus on more important aspects of their businesses, such as selling products, innovating, responding to customers, and more. 

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.

3 Things to Do to Make Mergers Easier on Your Partners

Mergers are a chaotic time for everyone. You have to figure out how to merge your finances, your departments, your partner programs, and much more. Your partners are going to be wondering exactly what is happening with your partner program and what it means for them. You’ll also have to pick and choose which aspects of your partner program you want to keep and why. 

Here’s 3 things you should do to help guide your partners through the merger and how partner insights can help you decide which parts of your partner program you should keep. 

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Everything runs on proper communication. As soon as you find out what the merger means for your partner program let your partners know. Your partners will need to know what the new system looks like and what it means for them. Make sure to introduce them to any new channel managers or other team members they may be working with in the future. Make sure to make yourself or one of your other team members available to answer any questions they have. 

Constantly communicating with your partners during this process will show your partners that you’re thinking about them and how the merger will affect their business. This will strengthen your relationship with them and in turn, their engagement. Also, make sure to note down any questions or feedback they have so you can address it when merging your partner programs. 

  1. Train your partners, train your team, train yourself

Unfortunately, figuring out what to tell your partners isn’t the only thing you have to do. You have to figure out how to merge your partner programs. Is one partner program more mature than the other? Which elements of the partner programs should you keep? Should you get rid of any elements? What are the costs of switching partners from one program to another? Should you keep the platforms’ partners used or should you switch everyone to a new one? 

All of these are questions you will have to ask before you decide how to move forward with a new or combined partner program. Often this will mean training your partners and yourself on a new tool that you’ll have to use. You’ll have to create a training program, schedule webinars, and maybe even sit down with them and walk them through the new tool. 

Along with training your partners on new tools, your team will have to be trained as well. So will you. This is harder than it sounds as your business doesn’t stop running when you undergo a merger. You have to find time to train your team and yourself while still keeping up with your responsibilities. 

If possible try and train your team and your partners together. This will help your team and your partners get to know each other and start building a relationship. Your partners will know who they can contact with questions, issues or advice and your team can get immediate feedback on the new tools. 

  1. Make things easier

A merger is a great time to take a look at what’s worked and what hasn’t. Your workflows are changing, your tools are changing, and you’ve gotten new people with new ideas. Set up some time with your team, bring the feedback your partners have given you and think of some ways to make things easier on your partners. 

That could look like having more regular meetings with your partners. Maybe you only met once or twice a month before and your partners would prefer meeting on a weekly basis. Perhaps your partners are overwhelmed with your onboarding process and want a quick start guide on how to jump in and start selling. Or maybe you want more insight into how your partners use your content and want to introduce or switch to a new tool. Whatever it is, now is a good time to restructure your partner program to make things easier for your partners. 

How partner insights make mergers easier

If you’re currently undergoing a merger, this is an intimately familiar scenario. Your company has announced that it’s merging with another company and the next thing you know, you’ve got someone in your office asking you about your partner program. They’ll probably want to know what tools you use to manage your program, how many people are on your team and your ideal partner profile. But, then they’ll want to know things like who are your top performing partners? What percentage of revenue comes from your partners? How many leads do your partners generate? 

Do you find yourself struggling to answer those questions? You can answer some of these questions with the deal registration form data you get from your partners, but not all of them. Previously, we talked about how to actually measure partner engagement and what those metrics tell you in our post: The True Measure of Partner Engagement. With those metrics, you can easily answer the question of who your top performing partners are and talk your partners up to your new team members. 

Metrics such as Marketing Activities and Social Sales measure how much marketing your partners do on your behalf and the types of marketing and sales activities your partners do. These can be used to show how engaged your partners are and what type of support they may need from your new partner program. Here’s an example. 

Everytime you make a major change to your product, Partner A sends out an email campaign to their customers describing the change and how it benefits them. They also reshare every single one of your social posts and constantly ask to run webinars with them, host conferences and be a guest host on their weekly podcast. They’re really enthusiastic about marketing you and they generate a lot of potential leads. But, they don’t share them with you. 

Partner A doesn’t need any help with their marketing efforts. Their marketing actives and social sales scores are within your excellent range. However, their lead generation score, the metric that measures how many leads your partners share with you, isn’t great. You talk to them and realize that they’re confused about your lead criteria, especially since you’re undergoing a merger. Then, you go back, discuss with your team and decide to send out an email outlining the changes to your lead criteria. You also put these updates into your partner portal so your partners can view them at any time.

Now, your partners are happy because they know what types of leads they should give you to get their commission and you’re happy because you’re getting the types of leads you want. These types of insights makes it easier to decide how to best merge your partner programs because you can spot areas where your partners seem to struggle and look for ways to help. It helps you make a case for any elements of the partner program that you want to get rid of as you can point to the data and say this is why our current partners were struggling. 

Conclusion

Mergers are chaotic times where everything changes. You’ll have to be the one guiding your partners and your team through the changes. You’ll also have to convince your bosses which parts of your partner program are worth keeping or should be discarded and data is your most powerful tool in that conversation. 

Constantly communicating with your partners will make the changes easier for you and them. You’ll also have to train everyone and yourself on any new tools you decide to use. You’ll be getting a lot of questions and feedback in this process which you can then use to simplify your new partner program for your partners. 

Finally, measuring your partners’ sales and marketing activities can give you a good idea of which parts of your partner program are worth keeping and which ones could use a change. This data, along with the feedback you get from your partners will help you take the best elements of both companies’ partner programs and create a better one for the new company going forward. 

3 Reasons Why Your Partners Reduce Your Lead Conversion Time

You know those times when you keep following up with a lead, but they don’t see any closer to making a decision? Eventually, you either have to force the lead to make a decision or let them go. But, what if you could shorten the time it took for the lead to make a decision and convert to a customer? What if you could get them to trust you quicker, give them an offer that helps them make a decision quicker and respond faster to their requests. 

You can if you have partners. Here’s 3 reasons why your partners can reduce the time it takes for your lead to convert into a customer. 

  1. Partners organically introduce you

Which are you more likely to trust? A random ad that gets inserted into your Twitter feed or a brief paragraph on a new product in a company newsletter that you’ve subscribed to? If you answered the latter, you’re like the rest of us. 

People are more likely to use a product that’s recommended by someone they trust. Having your partners introduce you organically, like mentioning you in their newsletter, automatically gets their customer’s attention in a way that a random Twitter ad never could. They’re already primed to like you.

  1. Partners offer your product as part of a package

Which product are you likely to buy? Software that you have to install and set up yourself or a software package that includes an installation and set up service? You’ll probably want the latter because it saves you time and effort. 

Partners who offer your product as part of a package are more likely to get you, buyers, you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. They expand your reach and help you find more opportunities. Offering your product as part of a package also makes the decision process a little easier. 

  1. Partners help you respond faster

Who are you going to like more? A company that responds to your meeting request within an hour or a company that takes a whole day to respond? You’re going to like the one that responds as quickly as possible and your partners can help you be that company. 

Your partners can take some of the load off of your sales team and help you respond to meeting requests as quickly as possible. Perhaps your sales team’s calendar is booked through the next month, but your prospect wants a meeting this month. Your partner can attend that meeting on your behalf, satisfying the prospect with their quick response time. This makes them more likely to convert as they’ve seen that you and your partners respond to their requests quickly. 

It takes a while for a lead to turn into a customer. Leads often do their own research, are more likely to go with companies they already trust, and want to be responded to as quickly as possible. For a single company, this often translates into a long lead conversion time. 

This time can be shortened by having your partners help you convert your lead to a customer. Your partners can help you respond to lead requests faster, offer your product as part of a package to make it look more attractive, and quickly establish trust with your lead. Your partners’ actions prime the lead to like you and shortens the time it takes them to get to know you. 

How to Support Partner Innovation and Why You Should

The needs of customers are constantly changing and partners need to keep up. They need to redefine their offerings and even create new ones. As a vendor, you are more experienced in creating new offerings and your partners are going to look to you for advice and support. 

Giving your partners the support they need creates value for both you and your partners. By helping your partners expand their offerings, you can get more industry coverage than you had previously. You may also be able to expand into new markets. You’ll also create lifetime value for your customers which will keep them coming back. 

How to support your partners

Partners need a lot of things to innovate and expand their offerings. They need money to fund innovation, people to help them innovate, and a lot of knowledge, especially if they’re creating a new product. You’ve gone through the whole process of designing, creating, and launching new products and are the best to help your partners undergo that process themselves. You may even have the budget to help fund their innovation efforts. 

Here are 3 ways you can help your partners innovate.

  1. Create a partner innovation program

Similiar to how startup incubators and small business programs provide resources, money and technology to support startups and small business owners, partner innovation programs are designed to support partner innovation in the same way. These programs may offer business development support to help partners market their new offering. They may also offer technology such as specific software or a sandboxed development environment to help partners develop their new offering. 

  1. See your partners as individual businesses

We’ve talked before about treating your partners as individual businesses. By not treating your partners as an extension of your business, you give them space to grow their capabilities. This lets your partners develop offerings that complement and grow your industry coverage. Also, your partners may develop offerings that allow you to expand into areas that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to expand into otherwise. 

  1. Create a community 

Unlike your partner innovation program, this community will be for you, your partners, your customers and anyone else who works with you. Use this community to start and follow discussions on best practices, common problems people encounter in the industry and things that people wish they could do with their current tech. 

As you and your partners listen and participate in these discussions, you can trade ideas with each other and see what solutions you can come up with. You can then use your partner innovation program to support your partners as they develop these solutions and bring them to market. 

Helping your partners develop new offerings and solutions to current industry issues benefits both your partner and you. These new offerings and solutions can provide more value to both current and new customers ensuring that you’re always top of mind for them. They can also help you gain more industry coverage than you would had otherwise. 

Three ways you can help your partners expand their offerings are by treating them as individual businesses, creating a community for them and others and by creating a partner innovation program. By treating your partners as individual and independent businesses, you give them the space and freedom to develop new offerings that complement your existing ones. By creating a community for them, your customers and other people who work with you, you and your partners get a space to share new innovations, best practices and to listen to common problems that inspire you to create new offerings. Finally, by creating a partner innovation program, you provide your partners the knowledge and support they need to create and bring their new offerings to market. 

Why is GDPR important to the Channel?

his post is part of a series in which we explore how GDPR affects the channel especially when using marketing automation tools. As we’re not legal experts, please consult with your own legal experts for specifics about your situation. 

Why we’re still talking about GDPR

In the past few months, numerous companies have had their security breached and their customer’s data privacy violated. Authorities are cracking down hard on companies who can’t secure their customer’s data and companies are finding that they need to update their data policies and rethink the way they gather and collect data.

While this is great for the consumer, it’s difficult for companies to actually do. It’s especially tricky in the channel space as more than one company handles a consumer’s data. Vendors, partners, and data processors such as marketing automation platforms all share consumer data. Each of these parties must comply with data protection regulations such as GDPR. 

GDPR is the most prominent of these regulations and can be tricky to navigate, especially as it applies to anyone who does business with anyone in Europe. We’ve created a series in which we explore how GDPR affects the channel, especially when using marketing automation tools.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Act protects data belonging to European citizens and residents. It applies to any company that obtains and/or handles personal data belonging to these citizens and residents. This includes processing, storing, and transferring data as well. This is true regardless of where the company is located. So a software company in the US that handles European personal data would still have to comply with GDPR even though they aren’t located in Europe. 

Under GDPR, personal data can only be processed if any of the 6 specified criteria are met. For the channel, those criteria would be

  • Consent has been given
  • Processing data is necessary for the performance of a contract 
  • Legitimate interest

Consent

Like a medical consent form, the consent form for data collection must explicitly state why you are collecting the data, what it’s for, how it will be stored, and for how long it will be stored. This consent must be obtained from anyone whose data is being collected. For the channel, consent must be obtained from the customer/prospect, the partner and the vendor if using a data processor, an entity that processes any data you give it according to your instructions. An example would be Mailchimp who processes your contact lists and sends emails to those contact lists.  

Once consent has been obtained, it must be stored by everyone who interacts with that person’s data. For the channel, the vendor, the partner, and the data processor must keep the consent authorization for their records. Consent must also be renewed on a recurring basis and may be revoked at any time. 

Data Processing 

Under GDPR, data processing includes collecting, recording, storing, etc…pretty much anything you do with data would be considered data processing under GDPR. Examples would be

  • Collecting emails for a mailing list
  • Storing IP addresses for security purposes
  • Storing contact information in a marketing automation platform

Data processing must occur for a specific purpose such as collecting emails for a newsletter mailing list. You can’t just process data for whatever reason; it needs to be specific and clearly defined when asking for consent. 

Legitimate Interest

This is when your personal data is used in a way you would expect. The data collected for this purpose should be necessary for the organization to collect and the benefits of processing it should outweigh the risks. 

An example of this is someone uploading their resume to a job board such as Indeed. In this case, the person who uploaded the resume can expect recruiters, hiring managers and anyone else looking to fill an open position to contact them based on the information provided in the resume. 

Why is GDPR important to the Channel?

Under GDPR everyone who handles the personal data of European citizens and residents must obtain explicit consent in order to use, process, store, or transfer the data. In the channel, there are typically 3 parties involved in obtaining, using, and storing this data. They are the vendor, the partner, and a data processor such as Hubspot. All 3 of these parties must obtain consent from the prospect/customer. This obtained consent must be stored in each party’s records. This means that consent must be obtained from all 3 parties even though the vendor may not even be located in Europe. 

GDPR is tricky for the channel as obtaining explicit consent means that customer/prospect information has to be shared between the vendor and the partner. This is a large concern when using a through-channel marketing automation system as the partner will be sending the vendors’ campaigns to their (the partner’s) mailing lists. Currently, most marketing automation platforms that the channel uses don’t have the network/software architecture necessary to properly separate the partner’s data from the vendor’s data. This data separation is necessary to be GDPR compliant and since most platforms don’t currently have the separation in place, they run the risk of noncompliance. 

What are the consequences of a GDPR violation?

The penalties for violating GDPR are steep. Fines can be 4% of annual global revenue or more than 20 million euros which is roughly equivalent to $24,000,000. These fines are determined by a number of factors such as whether or not the violation was intentional, how soon it was reported, and whether or not the fined company cooperated with the authorities. 

Since data in the channel is handled by more than one party, it’s possible that if one party such as a partner is found to violate GDPR, the other parties such as the vendor may also be violating GDPR. This is why it’s important to ensure that all parties involved are GDPR compliant. 

How do I know if my partners are compliant?

It’s not just you who has to be GDPR compliant, but your partners too. Rather than leave your partner to navigate GDPR compliance by themselves, you should guide your partners through the process of becoming compliant. 

  1. Be on top of regulatory changes

Make sure to keep up to date with any GDPR and other regulatory changes and inform your partners of them in a timely manner. Be sure to check in with your partner at regular intervals to ensure that they remain compliant. These updates can be sent in your regular newsletter. 

  1. Rework your partnership agreement

Your new agreement will need to include a data-sharing clause as GDPR requires any data sharing to be disclosed to the consumer. This clause should outline what data will be collected, how that data will be used, and how it will be stored. It should also state how long the data will be held for and how it will be removed from both parties’ systems.

  1. Educate partners  

There’s a high chance that none of your partners have lawyers on hand to help them figure out how to be compliant. You should educate your partners on what GDPR is, how it affects them, and what the consequences are for violating it. Make sure to share material like checklists that will help them be compliant, host webinars, and provide additional support and training when necessary. 

  1. Establish compliance procedures and metrics

Make sure to lay out some metrics and procedures so that your partners can show you and others that they are GDPR compliant across all their platforms. These procedures and metrics will establish an audit trail that you and your partners can show the authorities if necessary. 

  1. Know when to let the relationship go

It sucks, but sometimes your partners may not want to be GDPR compliant. If that’s the case and you’ve tried everything to make them see that it’s necessary for their business, then it’s time to let them go. There are steep fines for noncompliance and if your partner gets fined, you might get fined as well. This is the last resort step. 

Conclusion

GDPR is the most prominent data protection regulation that affects a large number of companies. Everyone who handles the data of European citizens and residents must comply with it or risk being fined up to 4% of their annual global turnover. Under the regulation, companies must obtain consent to handle a consumer’s data. They must also have a data policy that lays out how they will collect, use, share, store and destroy the data that they obtain. 

For the channel, the vendor, partner, and data processor (ex. A marketing automation platform) must be compliant. Each party must hold a copy of the consumer’s consent and have a data-sharing agreement in place. Vendors can help their partners become compliant by educating partners and establishing compliance procedures and metrics.

Meet Us at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo

The Channel Partners Conference and Expo is happening next week, November 1 – 4 in Las Vegas. For 25 years, the conference has been bringing the latest trends in the channel, new tech, and new ideas that are poised to disrupt the industry. With more than 250 channel vendors attending and a long list of sessions with some of the biggest names in the industry, there’s a lot you can learn. 

Who we’re excited to hear

With a lineup of more than 100 channel experts hosting keynotes and conference sessions, there’s a lot to choose from. Here’s who we’re looking forward to hearing from. 

LinkedIn: The Ultimate Social Media Tool For B2B Marketing

We all know social media’s important. Who among us isn’t on LinkedIn these days? But are we using it to its full potential? 


That’s why we’re excited to hear from Matthew Solomon, Channel Halo’s CEO, on how to use the full potential of LinkedIn for marketing. He offers advice on how to curate and build relationships and how to find the right buyers. This is a good session for both you and your channel partners to attend. 

Get the details here

Cybersecurity in a 5G World

Cybersecurity is a hot topic these days and organizations are increasingly looking to boost their defenses against cyberattacks. We’re looking forward to hearing AT&T’s Theresa Lanowitz talk about how organizations are moving to 5G while also increasing their cybersecurity. She also discusses the results from AT&T’s Cybersecurity Insights Report which states that 94.5% of organizations want help in moving to 5G and increasing their security. 

This session is a must for MSPs or anyone else interested in cybersecurity. Get the details here.

How to Keep Customers Safe and Operations Running in a Post-Pandemic World

There’s a lot going on in the world today and the threat of disrupted operations hangs over all of us.  Speaker Jasmina Muller, Everbridge’s VP of Global Channel Partnerships, joins panelists Cheryl Neal (Tech Data), Janet Schijns(JS Group), and Paul Spencer (T-Mobile) for a discussion on how channel leaders can keep people safe and operations running during times of disruption. They’ll also discuss how automation solutions can help organizations rapidly respond to disruption and keep operations running. 

This is a must for anyone who doesn’t want their operations to even blip during times of disruption. Get the details here. 

Who we’re hoping to meet

There’s a lot of people we’re hoping to meet at the conference, you included. We’re really excited to meet anyone interested in growing with their partners and would love to talk to them about using automation to help that growth. If you’re one of those people, let our team know through the official conference app or through our calendly here

We’re really excited about this conference and hope to see you there. If you can’t make the conference, keep an eye on the Channel Partners website for highlights. If you want to meet us, but have something else planned next week, our clalendly has other dates available. 

2 Problems Deal Registration Creates

In our previous post, Deal Registration, the good and the bad, we explained deal registration as a way for partners to share leads and deals they have been developing for their vendors. That registration lets partners claim a lead for a set period of time and prevent other people including their vendor from stealing the lead. Once that period of time has expired the lead opens back up. If the partner hasn’t managed to win over the prospect by that point, everyone else can start selling to them. 

It’s supposed to be a way to minimize channel conflict, but sometimes it creates problems instead. This happens because when partners fill out a deal registration form, they don’t have any visibility into what the vendor does with that information. One problem is that the vendor could hand that information over to their direct sales team and have them go after the deal. Another problem is that two partners could have registered the same deal. This is more of a problem for the vendor than their partners, but it’s still a deal registration problem. 

Problem 1: The direct sales team

When a partner registers a deal, the vendor gets notified. Normally, what happens is the partner gets a period of time to close that deal or work that lead without anyone else interfering. However, sometimes the lead decides to check out the vendor’s website and gets themselves on the vendor’s marketing list. 

In this scenario, both the partner and the vendor’s direct sales team fight over the lead. The vendor then has to decide who should pursue the lead. If they upset their partner, their partner may stop engaging with them and stop giving them leads. On the other hand, if they upset their direct sales team, their team loses confidence in them and may walk away. 

Then there’s the lead. If the lead has a frustrating experience because both the direct sales team and the partner are talking to them, they’ll go to the vendor’s competitor. They’ll probably also write a review online telling people about their experience causing the vendor’s reputation to slip. 

Vendors try not to let this happen, which is why they require the lead to be registered in the first place. When the lead is registered, the vendor can then check to see if the lead is already in the system. If they are, then the vendor tells either the partner or their direct sales team to stop pursuing the lead since one of them has already talked to them. 

For more about the direct sales-partner conflict, read: How to make sure your direct sales don’t collide with partner’s deals

Problem 2: Which partner gets the credit for a deal?

Sometimes a vendor has two of their partners register the exact same deal on the exact same day. In that case, the vendor is unable to tell which of their partners was first to register the deal. 

Today, most deal registration forms only note the date that the deal was registered on. For most cases this is fine, but it causes a problem in the scenario above. Since the vendor doesn’t know which partner registered the deal first, they have to pick which partner gets the credit and the commission for the deal.

The vendor has to decide who to give the deal to based on a number of factors such as who is more likely to close the deal, what’s best for their prospective customer, and their relationship with the partners involved. Considering these factors will help the vendor make a decision. 

Factoring in who is more likely to close the deal will provide the best chance of success at winning the deal. Keeping what’s best for the customer in mind will remind partners of what’s important and prevent them from promising the customer things they can’t do in an effort to look better than the other partner. Finally, considering the vendor’s relationship with each partner will help the vendor keep the partner’s best interests in mind. No matter what the outcome, partners are more likely to respond favorably if the vendor demonstrates that they have the partner’s best interests in mind.

Other tools the vendor can use to make a decision are conflict resolution strategies. If the partners find out that another partner is competing for their deal they won’t be happy and conflict occurs. The vendor can use conflict resolution strategies such as sticking to policies and procedures and moving things forward when none of the other strategies work. 

Following policies and procedures means that vendors have a guide on what to do if two of their partners register the same deal. At the same time, the partners have an idea of how the vendor made their decision. This helps prevent the vendor-partner relationship from being damaged as partners understand that the vendor made the decision independent of what that relationship looks like. 

For more about how to handle two partners registering the same deal, take a look at our post: 2 Strategies to Resolve Deal Conflicts Between Partners

Conclusion

Deal registration is a useful tool for letting partners lay claim to a lead and gives them the best chance to win that lead without anyone else interfering. However, deal registration can also cause problems. Registering a deal alerts the vendor to a potential lead. The vendor can then hand this lead over to their direct sales team bringing the partner and the direct sales team into conflict. Two partners can also register the same deal putting the vendor in the position of having to choose who gets commission for the deal. 

2 Strategies to Resolve Deal Conflicts Between Partners

Having a relationship with your partner is like having a relationship with your significant other. It’s stressful when you have conflicts and those conflicts aren’t always as simple as who was supposed to walk the dog. They’re more complicated, can involve multiple people, and don’t have a solution that makes everyone happy. 

Here’s a scenario. You’ve got two partners. Both partners have been in your partner program for a while. Partner A is a highly engaged partner who registers a large number of deals with you. Partner B is not as engaged and has only registered a few deals since the beginning of their contract. 

Today, both partners have registered a deal for the exact same company. What do you do? Which partner should you give the deal to? Should you give the deal to a partner? What factors should you consider? What conflict resolution strategies should you use?  No matter what happens, one of your partners is going to be upset. This is the type of conflict that can make or break your relationship. 

This is a common channel conflict scenario. Knowing what factors you should consider and what kinds of conflict resolution strategies you can apply will give you more tools to make your decision. 

Factors to Consider

  1. The customer 

How much you focus on the customer will depend on what type of partnership you have. If your partners are just selling to your customer and the customer is coming to you for product support, then you’ll want to make sure that your potential customer doesn’t get frustrated with you and your partners. 

On the other hand, if your partners are the ones selling to and servicing your potential customer, then you’ll want to remind them that the potential customer should be their priority and that winning over the customer is what they should be focusing on more than the conflict with the other partner. This will matter more in a scenario where your potential customer is contacted by both partners and both partners are letting their feelings get to them and may be promising the customer things they can’t do just to make themselves look better than the other partner. 

  1. Which partner is likely to get the deal

Some of your partners have a better chance of closing a deal than others. They could have a better sales team, a personal connection to the customer, a better offer than another partner, ect…You want to give the deal to a partner who’s more likely to succeed in landing the customer. 

  1. Your relationship with your partners

Is there a way you can make both your partners happy and possibly strengthen your relationship with them? Perhaps you can give both partners the commission from the registered deal while letting one partner have the customer. 

What really matters is demonstrating that you’re working with the partner’s best interests in mind. If you give the deal to one partner, help the other partner (the one you didn’t give the deal to) find another customer. Share a few leads with them, offer your support, whatever you do make sure the partner knows you’ve got their back. 

Conflict resolution strategies to apply

  1. Be consistent with policy and procedures

You  probably have policies and procedures outlined in your partner program for situations like this. Those will provide a useful guide as to what you should do. Being consistent with these policies and procedures ensures that even your partners who aren’t in conflict know what the basis is behind your decisions. It also may lessen the chances of hurt feelings as partners know you’re making decisions based on policies and procedures regardless of your actual relationship with them. 

  1. Move the process along

Sometimes your partners will get stuck on a certain point. Perhaps they’re going back and forth with you about who got to the customer first or that they can provide better service than the other partner. Whatever it is, being stuck on that particular point will not help the process along. 

If the process drags on for long enough, it will start to take time away from more important business activities. This is the point where you step in and tell your partners that you can revisit the point at a later date or that there’s some policy that requires things to be the way they are. This strategy shouldn’t be used at the very beginning of the conflict, but instead should be used if it appears that the conflict is going to continue over a long period of time. 

Conclusion

Conflicts with your partners aren’t easy to solve, but there’s two strategies that you can use to try and resolve the conflict. First, be consistent with your own policies and procedures. These help guide you in making a decision and may reduce hurt feelings as your partners know how you’re making your decisions. Second, move the process along. This is another good strategy as the conflict can drag on if your partners get stuck on a particular point. If it drags on for long enough, it’ll start to take time away from more important activities. These two strategies will help prevent the conflict from dragging out over a long period of time and may help lessen any hurt feelings that inevitably come with the process.  

Why you should survey your channel partners

Your channel partners aren’t your customers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send them the occasional survey. Partner surveys can be a great way to see how your partners feel about you, your product and your partner program. They can also be a good way to refine your partner profile and get some insight on which kinds of partners are the best for your program. They can also help you get an idea of how partners are navigating events such as the pandemic or regulatory changes such as GDPR. 

Reasons to survey your channel partners

 Like surveying your customers, there’s many reasons to survey your partners. Here’s 3 important ones. 

  1. To see how they feel about you

Are your partners happy with you? Are there things you could be doing better? Asking your partners will help you spot any issues before they arise and you can fix them before they lead to larger issues. 

  1. To see how they feel about your product

Your partners are selling or servicing your product, so getting their feedback lets you know what issues customers run into when using the product. That feedback can also suggest new features for you to add in your next product or your next product update. 

  1. To learn more about them

You may already have this information from your initial talks with them, but it’s worth revisiting. How many of your partners were able to hire more employees? How many of them are able to forecast their sales for the next quarter? Knowing more about your partners will help you determine the amount of support they need. It’ll also help you build or refine your partner persona. 

What to do with your partner’s responses

The partners who take the time to write detailed responses to your questions are going to be more engaged than the partners who just give you a star rating. But, both types of partners are going to be more engaged than the partners who didn’t respond to the survey at all. Make a note of this as you can add it to the rest of your partner engagement metrics. 

When you sort through the responses, make a note of what types of things come up frequently. Do 45% of your partners lack a sales process? Then it might be time to organize a webinar or another type of training on how to create one. Do 85% of your partners say they’re happy with the incentives you give them? Great! You don’t need to do a thing. Knowing what comes up frequently allows you to adjust parts of your partner program if necessary. It also lets you know what you’re doing well and can help you learn how your partners are keeping up with your industry. 

Sharing these results with your partners and letting them know how you’re using the results will help you be transparent with your partners. They may even offer some suggestions as to how to improve things and offer suggestions on things you didn’t ask about in your survey. 

How often should you survey your partners

You can’t just survey your partners once and be done with it. You should survey your partners over a period of time to see how engaged your partners are, to be able to spot any trends that occur and to see what effect the changes you made had on your partners. 

How often you send a survey will define its length. If you’re sending a survey every quarter then it will be shorter than a survey you send every year. You don’t want to send long surveys very often as your partners will get tired of filling them out. 

Here’s 3 best practices for sending surveys. 

  1. Make your surveys easy to answer

Don’t just give them a question and expect them to write an essay. No one has time for that. Instead give them multiple choice questions, ask them to rate something on a scale of 1-5 or ask them to agree/disagree with a statement. 

  1. Send them frequently, but not too frequently

Time is valuable and no one wants to spend it answering surveys. Make sure you’re sending surveys on a frequent enough basis to be able to spot trends. But at the same time make sure they’re not frequent enough to annoy your partners. Annual surveys would be the sweet spot here as you can make them strategic and pass the results along to your executive team. 

  1. Make your surveys anonymous

This doesn’t mean you can’t gather demographic information about your partners. It just means that you shouldn’t ask them for specifics such as their company name. Anonymizing surveys is the best way to get honest responses. People are more comfortable giving feedback, especially if it’s negative, if they know you won’t know who they are. 

Conclusion

Surveying your partners is a great way to see how engaged they are. It’s also a good way to see how they feel about your partner program and your product. Using the data you get from the responses to your survey, you can spot trends and see how many of your partners may need additional training on your product or additional sales and marketing support. Surveys should be sent consistently and should be quick and easy for your partners to fill out. 

Speaking of surveys, we’d like to introduce to you xAmplify’s new survey feature. Integrated with the rest of our platform, you can automatically send your partners a survey without having to configure a new tool. Survey data is automatically collected and generated in an easy-to-read report that you can share with your team. Schedule a demo to learn more.