Why are only 20% of partners driving 80% of your channel revenue?

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.

Partnership University: PRMs and Why You Should Have One

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.

Automatic Co-branding

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.

Seamless Integration

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.

Partner Focused

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.

Forrester Channel Software Tech Stack 2021 Highlights the Rapid Shift in Channel Marketing: Here’s How xAmplify Fits the Landscape

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 Growth
  • 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.

Partner Experience

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.

4 Ways to Onboard Channel Partners Faster and Boost Sales Sooner

It’s not easy to onboard channel partners. But when your partners succeed, you succeed. Quick and effective onboarding of partners is a big indicator of long term success for any channel program. Fast, successful onboarding means more revenue, greater ROI in every channel partnership, and higher retention. Thus, prioritizing your partners when you adopt a new TCMA tool is particularly crucial. It’s not enough to sign up for a platform, then dole it out to channel partners and expect them to invest the time and budget in learning how to use it.

Vendors need to be there every step of the way to ensure the investment in a promising new piece of tech can realize its full potential.

Making channel partners a priority

According to CSO Insights, one-fourth of vendors or manufacturers say partners take a year or longer to become active in their channel marketing strategies. So… a whopping 25% of indirect sales companies and/or teams land new partner contracts—and then allow them to go stale for more than 12 months. Why put in all that effort to land a new strategic channel partnership, only to let it slip through the cracks?

With 75% of global sales being transacted through indirect channels, this hands-off behavior squanders a valuable resource. It not only wastes the partner relationship, it also inevitably misplaces MDF among the channel sales and marketing team, and undermines their value add to the organization (which may also have a direct sales team they’re competing with).

This painful 12-month onboarding turnaround can be easily fixed. The problem we’re facing is the disconnect between vendors and partners, resulting in a deficit of knowledge, access, and capability for partners. From our research and conversations with customers, this all stems from a combined lack of 1) the proper marketing tools, 2) product and application training, 3) communication and 4) quality control.

Let’s tackle these one by one:

1) Proper channel marketing tools

Having the right tools to help onboard your channel partners swiftly and easily makes a world of difference. There are TCMA platforms designed to take this burden off your hands and do the heavy lifting on your behalf. Our own platform, for one, completely automates the through- and to- channel stream of communication, making it friendly and intuitive for partners to participate. Not only that, but our platform has onboarding training built in for vendors and partners.

In other words, the platform itself has a number of step-by-step tutorial videos within its dashboard to show users how to upload contacts, segment lists, upload content, create beautiful email templates, launch campaigns, share data, and review metrics.

Using our platform or another such TCMA tool will pay for itself—and much, much more.

2) Solution and application training

If you’re using a PRM or partner portal, odds are the solution doesn’t come with onboarding materials, so you’ll have to do this part yourself. It sounds like a lot of work, but just think—you’ll be expediting the 25% of partners who’d take a year or more to push your product to market in a world where 75% of global sales are indirect. Taking the time to produce partner success content is worth the investment.

Allocate a budget, a team, and a month of development to creating process documents, videos, and other training materials to send to every new partner. Schedule Lunch and Learns to get them excited about pushing your product and to answer any questions. Effectively training partners on how to leverage the collaboration tools you’ve put in place only makes it easier for them to consistently redistribute, extend your reach, and increase their own revenue as well as yours.

3) Communication with channel partners

Talking to people one on one goes a long way. Not only does it make people feel valued, but it also allows for personal pain points to be expressed and received. Use the metrics features of your marketing automation tool to check in on who’s redistributing your marketing collateral. (You should be using this anyway to determine priority partners and high-impact campaigns.) Reward the active participants with SPIFs, and reach out to the ones who aren’t participating to learn what’s holding them back. This leads us to quality control…

4) Quality control for the channel partnership

When you see certain partners aren’t participating in your co-branding efforts, follow up. Get feedback and find out what pain points are keeping them from participating. Then take that feedback to heart and try to fix the problem.

And if the PRM or portal you’re using doesn’t offer comprehensive partner and downstream metrics, it may be time to upgrade your tech stack to one that does. (Like xAmplify. 🙂 Just sayin’.)

Discover the Key to Unlocking Your Distribution Channels

In today’s automated, tech-driven world, channel marketing has remained one of the last holdouts due to its continued dependence on manual labor. The concept of a manufacturer leveraging distribution channels for indirect sales is age-old, but the actual process of equipping and supporting those channel partners with simple, actionable strategy has scarcely evolved over the decades.

Well, until now. New software platforms have begun to prioritize the partner journey, and it’s about time. If you’re a vendor or manufacturer, partners are the key you’ve been searching for.

And with this emergence of tech to combat antiquated channel sales methods, automation has finally caught up to the partner problem. Now it’s time for you to adopt these digital solutions and get your idle distribution channels moving. Prioritizing partners is the greatest channel marketing strategy you could dream up, and here’s why:

  • Making partners a priority is tangible, actionable, and straightforward, rather than conceptual.
  • When partners are a priority, more of them will participate in your co-marketing initiatives.
  • When partner participation increases, your reach, visibility, and revenue increase too.

3 pillars of a good channel marketing strategy

If you’re a vendor company that relies on distributors or resellers, you know all too well the pain points of getting a channel program off the ground. Whether you’re a company that sees channel partners as a critical move in scaling your brand, or you started building a partner program into your sales infrastructure at the very start, the story is the same.

You need to provide sales enablement tools and initiate co-branding opportunities in a way that makes it easy for your distribution channels to redistribute.

So, for starters, you must:

1) Develop your channel marketing strategy with your partners in mind.

Because they’re the ones you’ll be relying on to deliver it, remember? This may seem obvious, but it’s incredibly common for vendors to forget the needs of their channel partners in achieving success. They expect channel partners to, indeed, do all that old-school manual labor. The truth is, 80% of them won’t.

So don’t retroactively build your partners into your plan. Instead, plan to meet their needs and requirements during your initial blueprint phase, so you’re always keeping them engaged and they feel they were always part of the plan—not an afterthought. This will take more manual labor on your part (unless you’re ready to adopt a platform that takes the heavy lifting off your hands) but absorbing some of that hard work on the front end can have exponential results for your distribution channels.

2) Provide marketing collateral via a platform that makes co-branding and redistribution easy.

In an attempt to assuage as much manual labor as possible, the widely accepted approach to channel marketing has been for vendors to adopt a partner portal or PRM. It’s likely you already have one of these, so you’re familiar with using such a platform to drop off your branded content—like design assets, data sheets, price lists, landing pages, infographics, etc—then let your channel partners know it’s there and expect them to come collect, co-brand, repurpose, and redistribute all on their own.

While this removes some of the manual labor for you, it’s not doing much for your partners. And it’s been this way for decades. (Hence why we said in the intro that this evolution has been slow and scarce.) The most recent SaaS technology available truly battles this issue by bridging the labor gap between you and that 80% of your partners who can’t or won’t do all the work you’re expecting.

3) Incentivize and reward your highly active distribution channels.

As your partner program grows, there will be varying degrees of partner engagement and you’ll want to prioritize those most engaged by incentivizing them with MDF and SPIFs. But again, today’s most common channel marketing approach requires the partner to proactively use the partner portal or PRM to retrieve collateral and generate campaigns on their own.

So aside from remaining a manual and time consuming process, this approach makes it nearly impossible for you to determine which partners are truly engaging. There are no metrics tracking who’s doing what, making MDF management a blind undertaking.

Engage your channel partners with today’s tools

Fortunately, according to Forrester, there’s been an evolution in technology to assist today’s vendors and manufacturers with their distribution channels. These through-channel marketing automation platforms are considered the “third stage” (in other words, the future) of digital marketing. But like most solutions, not all are created equal.

When your channel marketing team is ready to adopt a more modern and intuitive platform, be sure to search for TCMA tools that truly automate old processes and deliver your messaging with ease through partners and onward to their pipeline. The ideal solution will make it simple for both you and your partners, and will empower you to effortlessly deliver consistent, co-branded campaigns while providing insight into your partners’ activity.

3 Ways to Gain and Retain More Channel Partners with TCMA

The partner experience should be at least as important to your channel management team as customer experience is to your company. But how do you ensure that all your channel partners feel valued, supported, and important even as you scale your program? Your channel program must always be expanding to cover the turnover of partners leaving or the lack of engagement from a percentage of partners (that 80/20 rule generally applies accurately to channel partners, although true TCMA has the power to change this). And yours certainly isn’t the only channel program they’ve signed up for, which is why your program needs to be one of the best.

You need to support and empower your partners with clear sales enablement tools, mutually beneficial co-branding material, up-to-date content and regular communication, all the while making it easy for them to engage and redistribute. Simply put, deliver your co-branded strategy to them in the most functional way possible and you’ll not only gain more partners, but you’ll see higher retention among the partners already in your program.

There are three simple ways to achieve this using a bona fide TCMA platform like xAmplify. But first, let’s quickly talk about the current shift in technology.

Channel marketing technology: past and future

Traditional PRMs and portals never made the channel marketing process “easy” for partners, and now, with the rise of outbound solutions, these platforms are becoming antiquated. An outbound approach to the partner experience is a more thoughtful way to earn partner participation, as opposed to hosting a portal where partners must download your assets and do all the co-marketing work themselves.

A true through-channel marketing automation platform leverages delivery to and through your partners to simply, seamlessly provide them with everything they need. Using one such TCMA solution, you can attract new partners, onboard them faster, and retain them longer.

Here are three methods for gaining and retaining channel partners:

#1—Expand your channel program through personalized outreach

The first step in starting or growing a successful channel is to determine what type of partner will be best for your product or service.

Are you developing an ecosystem of solution partners that offer additional tools to round out your solution, like value-added resellers (VARs) or independent software vendors (ISVs)? The value message here is the access they’ll have access to your client base and a co-branding opportunity to sell their solution through your sales team. You’ll need to provide co-marketing campaigns that strengthen their branding and tell the story that their offering is an integral piece of the full solution.

Or are you primarily looking for resellers and/or system integrators (SIs)? The value message to  this type of partner is more straight-forward—increase their revenue by adding your product to their portfolio.

You could also be in need of referral partners, who simply refer your solution to their client base and get a commission for doing so. Similar to an ISV or SI, except with no integration, the value here is that they’re pointing their customers to a known and trusted solution which their platform doesn’t offer.

Finally, you might also be looking to attract distributors. You’d traditionally have a closer relationship with this type of partner. Distributors will rely heavily on regular communication, sales enablement tools that you provide, and channel marketing material that you develop and deliver.

Once you’ve determined your ideal types of channel partners and created a list, follow these tips for initial outreach using an outbound platform:

  • Take that list of ideal partners with whom you should be doing business and enter it into the software as a new segmented list of Potential Partners – you could further segment the list into ISVs, Resellers, Referrals, Distributors, or SIs
  • Create the content with the value message that applies to each type of potential partner. Think about the qualifying questions they might have for you, and answer them before they have a chance to ask. For example:
    • For referral partners:
      • How large is your client base?
      • How many sales people could be introducing them to your client base?
      • How often do you run programs to introduce partners to internal sales teams?
      • What type of co-marketing programs do you run and how often could they take part?
      • What are the requirements for co-marketing opportunities?
    • For reseller partners:
      • What is the average sales price, time to close and close rate?
      • How much revenue could a standard partner generate?
      • How much training and co-marketing do you provide?
  • Create the templates and campaigns with personalized content, ready to be sent to your corresponding partner lists at any time. Of course, be sure to include a Request a Demo link and create an auto-sequenced series of targeted follow-up emails.

#2—Onboard channel partners faster than ever before

The faster you onboard partners, the sooner you’ll both see the mutual benefits of the partnership. As soon as they’ve signed up for your channel marketing program, cover the introduction basics:

  • Leverage your segmented lists again to ensure that their welcome and continuing journey with you feels personal.
  • Let them know their participation is appreciated and they will soon be rewarded.
  • Remind them of why they signed up in the first place—that redistribution will be easier than ever because you’ll be delivering campaigns in true automated through-channel fashion.

xAmplify makes this whole introduction incredibly simple and functional by allowing you to build nurture campaign templates and launch them from the same platform your channel partners will be using to redistribute. Not only do partners feel welcomed, they’re simultaneously becoming familiar with the platform they’ve just adopted… The faster they become familiar, the faster they onboard and begin putting the platform to use for mutual benefit.

#3—Use your TCMA platform for to-channel initiatives, too

The incredible thing about compulsory outbound solutions like xAmplify is that they force various and previously scattered pieces of channel marketing strategy to happen in one platform. This makes the first half of the TCMA acronym—the through-channel portion—an unprecedented model for success. With ease and simplicity, partners participate, you get insight into never-before-seen metrics, and you can dole out MDF (the reward you promised earlier) knowing that it’s going to partners who’ll put it to the best use.

This may all be enough to keep channel partners from leaving your program. But don’t forget that there’s a “to-partner” mode in addition to the “through-partner” mode.  

Using this alternate mode allows you to keep that initial introductory momentum going by delivering check-ins, newsletters, videos, case studies, white papers, educational materials, current sales enablement tools, product highlights, SPIF campaigns (more reward!), and more straight to their inbox. No portal or PRM login necessary.

Plus, with data insight to show you how often they’re opening, clicking, reading and watching, you’ll know exactly when to pull back and when to keep reaching out.