Partner University: The Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

Marketing technology has seen incredible growth over the last year and that is only going to continue. The increase in digital channels, technological expansion, and consumer interaction with brands requires modern solutions that keep partnerships growing. With the right marketing technology, your partnership can grow exponentially. In this post, we’ll show you which tools you need to keep your business growing by building the ultimate marketing tech stack.

Finding the right partner marketing tech stack requires an understanding of what it actually is. Marketing technology stacks are a group of tools that marketers leverage to simplify marketing processes and improve partnership activities. These tools not only assist with marketing automation, they also provide measurements of activities and help partners increase spending efficiency. Together, these tools facilitate growth and help partners streamline collaboration for improved marketing campaigns that communicate with customers in efficient and personalized ways. 

The Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

With over 8,000 marketing technology solutions in 2020, we decided to pare this down to categories that are most important and relevant for channel partner marketing and sales. Forrester also did a great article around technologies for Channel Marketing, but we wanted to share what we found in our experience not just the tools. Each partnership and business varies, and there isn’t a one size fits all option. The right tools for your business depend on your current and future marketing goals. 

Tech Stack Segments

There are seven marketing tech segments that companies and partners must build their stack based on the areas that are most important for them. 

  • Promotion and Advertising – Software that promotes your brand and increases traffic to your website
  • Sales and Commerce – Improves online and offline shopping experiences
  • Social Engagement and Relationships – Focuses on customer success, social media and the overall management of customer relationships
  • Content and Consumer Experience – Content management, email marketing, marketing automation, apps and other software that integrates with both sales and customer success departments
  • Analytics – Tools for measuring campaign effectiveness
  • Data – Databases to get enriched information and insights on your prospects and leads 
  • Management – Software that facilitates collaboration across teams for a more complete alignment strategy

Once you understand where your partnership needs to focus, building your ultimate tech stack becomes easier. 

Necessities and Nice-to-Have Tools

It’s also important to consider the necessities for your team. There are must-have tools that boost efficiency, increase collaboration, and improve communication between partners. Additionally, there are nice-to-have tools that facilitate organization and creativity. Creating the ultimate partner marketing tech stack requires a focus on the must-haves, and a consideration of the nice-to-haves if the budget allows for them. Keeping your stack lean helps protect against having too many services that confuse partners and lessens the financial impact of unused tools and software.

Why is this Stack Important?

Now that you have a better understanding of the right tools for your ultimate partner marketing tech stack, you need to know why the stack you choose is important. While there isn’t a defined stack for each business, there are essential tools that help your partnership grow based on your terms. Your marketing tech (martech) stack should meet the needs of your organization, facilitate your overall strategy, and solve any current problems you have. Creating a flexible stack that scales and automates as you grow enhances your processes and doesn’t limit your growth due to cost or overall capabilities. 

What Are the Components of the Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack?

A fully developed martech stack includes different tools that work together seamlessly. Regardless of your overall goals, the ultimate stack for your partnership should include:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Software that stores customer information and helps build relationships for increased engagement
  • Project Management – Tools that increase collaboration by streamlining workflows and simplifying communication between teams.These tools increase organization across partnerships and let members easily track the progress of each project.
  • Marketing Automation – Software that automates email marketing, social media and lead generation workflows. This component lets you create personalized messages across campaigns that run constantly, without manual effort.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Software that improves search rankings with keyword research, content audits and backlink building for online growth.
  • Content Management System (CMS) – Manages, stores, and publishes online content without requiring new code each time.
  • Social Media Management – Tools that help you keep track of brand mentions, schedule social media posts, and access user analytics.

Depending on your business model and requirements, your partner marketing tech stack may include all of these components, a few of them, or others that aren’t mentioned. A solid martech stack provides the tools necessary for growth in areas that are important, without the bloat of software that you won’t use or don’t need. Careful strategizing helps you choose the options that best fit your company, goals and growth requirements.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, consider how each component in your marketing tech stack works together. Most of the software available integrates with a variety of tools, making onboarding and integration simpler and faster for the entire company.

xAmplify Helps You Create the Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

xAmplify partner relationship management (PRM) solutions combine the tools and software your business needs into an automated system. With tools that align processes, improve workflows, facilitate communication and help increase sales and results, xAmplify helps you create the ultimate partner marketing stack so you and your partners can focus on growth.

If you’re ready to grow your business with a martech stack that meets your partnership’s needs, schedule an xAmplify demo for more information.

The difference between PRM and Partner Revenue Enablement (Through-Channel Partner Marketing)

If your company uses a partner program, chances are you’ve also instituted some sort of partner relationship management (PRM) system to keep track of partnerships. You probably are also looking for ways to leverage those partnerships for increased revenue, which is where partner revenue enablement comes into play. 

Partner Relationship Management v. Enabling Partners

Partner relationship management is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the management of the mutual arrangement you have with partner companies. It’s a method for tracking the goals and standards you’ve set with your partners. Training and workflow are often pieces of the relationship management framework as well.

Partnership revenue enablement, on the other hand, is all about empowering your partners with the information, tools, and training they need to sell your product and increase your revenue. It’s an engagement approach that extends past just giving resources to your partners and expecting them to follow through. It invites their sales teams to join in your brand’s vision and gives them a playbook that shows them where they fit into your strategic plan so they can generate and close the right deals on your behalf.

Both concepts are integral to the success of your company’s through-channel marketing strategy. Technology makes them easier to execute, so long as you choose the right software for each.

PRM Software is not the Same as Partner Revenue Enablement Software

Most of the popular PRM software options out there provide tracking of the partner relationship. They let you share processes, training, sessions and other resources with your partners. The top PRM solutions are suitably robust and allow you to manage partnerships across the board.

Unfortunately, that robustness can work against your bottom line without the proper engagement and enablement to represent your brand as completely as your own teams do. When partners don’t have a playbook that’s easy to follow or a process to sell your product for you, they’re more likely to ignore your offering and find one that’s easier for them to sell. Those partners end up leaning toward other partnerships or miss key opportunities to impact your revenue because they don’t know the right information to make the connection on your behalf.

In contrast, partner revenue enablement software specifically addresses this issue and simplifies the sales process for partners. The best of breed for this type of software solution is full of time-saving features that make conversions easier for your partners. This includes giving your partners access to co-branded, multichannel campaigns and landing pages to full-tilt, scalable marketing across emerging and social media platforms. The top options also plan around compliance requirements and offer tracking and performance metrics so you can see how partnerships lead to revenue for your company.

The right partner revenue enablement software should be a scalable solution so you have increased capacity for more partnerships. Features like automated campaign tracking and  partner engagement metrics, free up your staff to develop more relationships and further your company’s revenue potential.

When revenue from partner relationships matters, partner revenue enablement is crucial. Offer your trusted partners the right software to manage campaigns and produce leads for you.

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.

How to Solve Age-Old Channel Marketing Issues

Our xAmplify team has years of experience working in Channel Marketing. We understand more than anyone, the magnitude of work it takes supporting partners with sales/marketing enablement, marketing development funds, and providing the resources that will make partners more successful.  There are many challenges in the Channel due to the levels of complexity and volume. Even the most successful channel organizations have hurdles that they still need to overcome to maximize channel revenue.

There is not enough automation in the Channel to account for growing workloads. Lean budgets or headcount vacancies cause a channel team to get underwater quickly. Things become more operational and less strategic limiting future growth. Instead of struggling with the same channel problems year after year, organizations should consider xAmplify’s Through-Channel Marketing Automation and Demand Gen solution.

xAmplify’s platform quickly solves for shortcomings in channel marketing and provides the following benefits:

  • Partner Marketing – G2M Faster
  • Marketing Content Distribution by Partner Group
  • Sales & Marketing Enablement
  • Two-Tier Visibility & Partner Pipeline Forecasting
  • Partner ROI for Your Demand Generation Program
  • Private Page for MDF Requests
  • Automation of Daily Repetitive Tasks

xAmplify’s Rapid G2M (Go-to-Market) Solution

Our Rapid G2M solution allows you to accelerate partner growth in a few key areas.  A common channel problem is small partner growth because of little to no marketing headcount. These partners don’t have time to navigate partner portals or assemble marketing campaigns, so agencies are hired to support them. Sometimes even with agency support, campaigns don’t get launched for 12 weeks or more. Channel Organizations then invest more money into those same partners with other low touch lead gen programs while partners are working on their campaigns. As a result, channel organizations double-dip on marketing investments for some partners and get lackluster results. xAmplify’s Rapid G2M solution allows a partner to be self-sufficient and redistribute a vendor-created campaign in 10 minutes because of the powerful, yet simple interface.

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xAmplify’s Unlimited Partner Grouping Options

Other legacy TCMA platforms use a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. xAmplify’s platform was built to serve up marketing content by partner group. An organization has unlimited partner lists to segment by geo, partner level, new certification, or any other criteria of its choice. This offers a way to serve up marketing content to newly certified partners and let them capitalize without delay. It also helps smaller partners so they aren’t overwhelmed by what is in the portal and lets organizations extend campaign customization privileges to larger partners.

xAmplify for Channel Sales & Marketing Enablement

Our platform is not just a channel marketing automation tool. It helps both sales and marketing teams drive more revenue. The partners can add all of their sales reps as additional users so that when a marketing campaign is distributed, it will be personalized down to the sales rep level. This eliminates the need for only one lead catcher on the partner’s end. Leads can be called into quickly resulting in higher lead conversion. 

xAmplify Through-Channel Marketing Metrics

Our through-channel marketing automation platform is two-tier. This means that you have additional insight into partner pipeline as well as analytics across all campaign types and communications. The metrics are helpful for your team to determine Partner ROI and who is executing the marketing plans that your teams discussed during enablement calls. Your team can more effectively decide where to spend their time.

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xAmplify Channel Marketing Automation

With our platform, you can automate many different channel communications downstream to partners. The xAmplify solution includes a landing page design engine the lets you create private pages for your team’s needs. For example, partners can submit for MDF (marketing development funds) on a private page and reduce the bottleneck of email. Other applications of this feature include end of quarter blitzes, communicating new certification programs, resources and more. And with our metrics, your team can see which partners opened your communications.

xAmplify Improves the Partner Experience

More mature channel organizations have thousands of partners. They are oftentimes segmented by certifications, partner levels, and performance to provide incentives and marketing programs. Partner experience is correlated with partner performance. Adding xAmplify to your channel marketing programs improves the partner experience by providing a feature-rich, easy to use platform that allows them to go-to-market quickly. This will give your company an advantage over the competition still using legacy systems. Win More Business with xAmplify TCMA!!

Schedule a Demo Today


Why Your Company Needs Channel Marketing Now

I’ll tell you the answer straight away: channel marketing creates a revenue opportunity three times larger than whatever you’re doing now. When you think of sales, channel marketing probably doesn’t enter the logic tree in your mind. You probably think any given Company has a Product or Service that they market directly to their Customers. Their Customers buy from said Company and use their Product or Service. 

And it looks something like this:

direct-sales-flow

What’s shocking is that this type of sales (direct sales) accounts for only 25% of global commerce, as estimated by the World Trade Organization. The whopping majority — 75% — of sales happen an entirely different way. 

What is Channel Sales?

This 75% share of the global marketplace is selling to customers indirectly, in what’s called channel sales. This means they sell through channel partners, such as resellers, value-added resellers, distributors, referral partners, independent software vendors, and a few other types. Generally, these partners have a large, established customer base and a trust relationship with end-users that a manufacturer can leverage to their advantage. And it’s a two-way street for resellers—the retailer needs the product because otherwise they’d have nothing to sell!

For instance, a manufacturer like Honda doesn’t sell cars directly to consumers. Instead, independent dealerships open up shop and ship in Hondas from Tokyo to sell to the end customer. In another example, a company like TOMS shoes uses both direct and indirect sales to get their product into consumers’ hands (and onto their feet). You can find TOMS at several retailers and department stores along with a variety of other indirect offerings. But you can also go to the TOMS flagship store in Venice Beach California, and other TOMS stores, to buy directly from the maker.

Not all companies are oriented to channel sales and thus are not in need of channel marketing. For instance, a nail salon, a restaurant, or a tattoo shop wouldn’t sell through channel partners. These types of companies will always sell directly to the consumer.

However, many companies that can sell indirectly just aren’t doing it. They may not understand that channel sales opens up an entirely new revenue stream with far more potential customers than can be reached through direct sales. 

And that looks something like this:

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Channel marketing is to indirect sales as marketing is to direct sales

I repeat, channel marketing is to indirect sales as marketing is to direct sales. Think about that. In today’s inundated marketplace, no company can reach its customer base without a solid marketing effort. 

And when it comes to direct sales (again, only 25% of the worldwide sales pie), there are billions of marketing dollars allocated, and thousands of software solutions adopted, agencies hired, and advertisements placed. There are CMOs and SVPs and DOMs running huge teams of marketers, from your content managers to your email experts, plus your social media leads, an array of copywriters for long-form and short-form content, not to mention the team of designers responsible for your visual brand identity. And this doesn’t even include the people working at those software companies and agencies who help run this well-oiled direct marketing machine.

When it comes to indirect sales (again, the far larger 75% majority), most companies don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps this is why so many companies that can sell indirectly aren’t doing it. They don’t have the bandwidth or the knowledge base. 

There’s not nearly the breadth of agencies and software solutions available for indirect sales as for direct, and advertising through channel partners is a mystery. Thus, companies allocate far fewer resources and money to channel; it’s like a can of worms most brands are afraid to open. Instead, they try a half-baked, low-risk, manual approach bound for failure or just stick to what they know: direct sales. Rather than really trying to understand channel marketing, rather than devoting some R&D budget to figuring it out, they mostly avoid it…and they continue missing out on that 75% of the marketplace. 

Channel marketing software versus direct marketing software 

Reflecting the comparable ease of direct sales is the high number of resources the industry has produced to generate direct sales leads, automate direct communications, and track that customer data. There are hundreds of thriving CRMS and marketing automation tools to serve this purpose. Why is this so? Because data is the key to selling and automation is the key to delivery at scale. We can follow this same logic for channel marketing, and just add ease of use as the key to getting partners to participate in a co-marketing effort with your brand.

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Fortunately, there are through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) solutions on the rise to fulfill these keys to success, but not all are created equal. If you’re ready to dive into channel sales, it’s important to know what you should be looking for when choosing a TCMA platform. Take the time to watch a number of demos and make sure you ask the right questions during those meetings.

If adopting a software solution still sounds overwhelming, try checking out a full service offering like xAmplify Sail. With this offering, we at xAmplify leverage our cutting edge software to act as your full service channel marketing team. So if you don’t find a product that’s right for your company, perhaps try a service to do it all for you. In any case, with the right resources in place, channel sales is likely to be a massive revenue driver for your brand. 

cta-grow-my-channel-sales

Choosing a TCMA Platform: How to Know Who, When, Why, and Which

A surprising number of indirect sales companies still function manually when it comes to co-marketing with their resellers, and have yet to adopt a TCMA platform (through-channel marketing automation platform). This seems to be most common among SMB and mid-levels unable to allocate budget to a solution and not quite foreseeing how a solution will actually enable them to rapidly scale. Lack of knowledge about evolving tech creates a huge missed opportunity.

These companies are blind as to:

  • The “who” (who needs TCMA?)
  • The “when” (is it time for my company to adopt a solution?)
  • The “why” (why do I really need this?)
  • And the “which” (which platform do I choose?)

Sound familiar? Then let’s fill in those blanks with an overview of the who, when, why, and which of channel marketing tools.

Who needs a channel marketing automation solution?

If you sell through indirect channels via resellers, distributors, ISVs, or VARs, you fit the “who” profile of a company in need of channel marketing automation. Doesn’t matter if you’re an SMB, mid-level, or enterprise. You fit the profile because these solutions are designed to help companies like yours scale your channel sales program, increase partner participation, extend your reach, and bring in more revenue via indirect pipelines.

When not executed through a TCMA platform, channel sales is an excruciating, overwhelming endeavor. If this overwhelm also sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, many SMB and mid-level companies don’t have a structured partner program in place because they’re limited by time and headcount. Things operate on a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, day-to-day basis dealing with partners, and long term growth hasn’t made it into the business plan yet.

For companies that live on both direct and indirect sales, many of them just say “forget it” to channel strategy altogether. It’s too labor-intensive and tedious to build. So they focus on direct sales instead.

When should I adopt a TCMA platform?

For those who are trying to maintain a partner program, but have yet to adopt a technology solution, channel sales is a daily struggle, with looming pressure to close deals fast rather than nurture the pipeline, and a scramble to put out fires as they constantly catch. If this—yet again—is familiar, if channel sales is a cumbersome process you’re thinking about giving up on, then your answer to “when” is NOW.

The pain and struggle you’re suffering is totally avoidable and a solution would be incredibly low cost compared to the return on investment. Let’s put it this way… A day in the life of a channel sales organization that hasn’t yet embraced through-channel marketing automation might go something like this:

You blast an email with a new asset to every partner. You don’t have analytics in place to see who opened it, much less who’s leveraging it for redistribution. You cross your fingers and hope a sale comes in through a partner. When few or none do, you reach out over the phone… One. Partner. At a time… to find out how it’s going. Did you get my email? Did you download the asset? Did your designers add your logo? Our designer left a whitespace for your logo. Are you going to redistribute the asset? The sale ends Friday, so we need you to redistribute no later than tomorrow. How many prospects will you send it to—is there any way you can track opens and report back to me?

Gasp! (Coming up for air).

Talk about exhausting. No wonder most SMBs and mid-levels have given up! Imagine having that conversation twenty times a day. Your partners would start avoiding your calls, stoking a whole new bunch of fires.

Besides being an exhausting and off-putting channel marketing strategy, the manual way is inefficient. Hours of time have been wasted in this instance, and likely with little yield. A TCMA platform would have deployed that initial asset, had the metrics to track it to and through partners to show who’s redistributing and to reveal the desired open rate downstream. And it would have taken a fraction of the time for both the vendor and the partner.

If a day in this life sounds like a day in your life… it’s time to stop struggling.

Why do I need automation for channel sales?

If you’re in channel sales and don’t have a through-channel marketing automation tool in place, why you need one should be implicit by now. But if you’re still not convinced, let’s look at some numbers.

  • 75% of global sales are made through indirect channels. Your marketplace opportunity is massive. But…
  • Only 20% of partners typically deliver 80% of channel sales for their vendor source.
  • That means 80% of channel partners aren’t doing much, because they need more than a phone call from you hounding them about redistribution. They need more than an email with a single asset and a whitespace for their logo. They need their hands held.
budget-for-channel-marketing-automation-is-necessary
Allocating budget to a channel marketing automation tool is critical for channel sales growth.

If you hold their hands, or use the right automation tool to hold their hands for you, you tap into that inactive 80% of partners. Get those guys and gals pushing your message to their customers, and your sales will start to skyrocket.

Ultimately, a new TCMA platform in the marketing tech stack will not only pay for itself, it will save you time, scale your partner program, and drive revenue. That’s why.

…But only if you nail the “which” part….

Which solution does TCMA the best?

There are a dozen or more platforms out there claiming to be TCMA tools. Many of them are portals and/or PRMs (partner relationship managers) that have been around for several years, and have retrofitted their platforms to “automate” co-branded messaging.

If your main need is real automation, through and through, then be extremely judicious when you come across companies like this. Until very recently the standard channel marketing practice was to hire one of these portals or PRMs as a common ground for vendors to store content—from whitepapers, to logos, to price sheets, to design assets. These platforms would deploy an email to partners letting them know when the vendor added something new, so partners were aware they could come collect.

And that was about as far as the automation went. From there, it was up to partners to log in to the portal (a single space shared with the vendor and other partners), download the content, add their own logos, upload and configure the campaign in whatever emailing software they were using, and redistribute.

There was still a ton of work required on the part of the partner. And there were still no metrics for the vendor. Not entirely helpful.

As this problem became more and more evident and technology evolved, new solutions started to emerge. Some are cohesive tools with end-to-end content storage, automatic co-branding, same-platform email functionality, and metrics included. This type of platform provides each partner with their own individual user instance, login, and dashboard so that list uploading and segmentation are secure and unlimited—which renders metrics and redistribution more accessible than they’ve ever been.

However, for PRMs and portals that existed previously and have now retro-fitted outbound automation (the email delivery and metrics aspect of co-marketing) the fact that they still simultaneously function in their old capacities makes them largely faulty; partner list uploading and same-platform email deployment are not compulsory, meaning metrics are non-comprehensive and unreliable.

If simple, end-to-end automation is what you’re looking for, schedule a demo with xAmplify, which was created at the turn of the TCMA revolution and designed specifically for through-channel marketing automation, not to function as a portal.

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How to Forecast Your Channel Sales Inventory and Save Billions

Industry is undergoing a huge change. A new era of business is being ushered in for supply chain management, with the adoption of industry 4.0 applications. These applications have the metrics insight to change the game when it comes to channel sales inventory, eradicating “just-in-case” warehouse supply and letting “just-in-time” inventory rule. Less waste, stable pricing and more profit.

The first companies to embrace this change and adopt this shifting technology will be the winners of tomorrow. They’re the ones using today’s cloud technology and software automation to communicate and forecast across inventory, manufacturing, and distribution. They’re the ones shrinking inventory margins and making optimization and streamlined corporate behavior necessary.

These companies will not only compete more effectively in the marketplace with better marketing insight and customer behavior analysis—they’ll also save up to billions of dollars per year by having more accurate sales attribution data than ever before.

“Just-in-case ” vs “just-in-time” inventory

Just-in-case inventory is used by manufacturing companies that lack the ability to accurately forecast sales. They have to determine how much product they need to meet demand with the projections they have, which are based on incomplete data, economic patterns, or industry predictions. In other words, these numbers are estimates at best. Furthermore, they do not account for the demand of through-channel marketing, which results in indirect sales. A company that is unable to accurately forecast sales generated via channel marketing ends up producing this just-in-case inventory. This surplus results in wasted resources and warehousing space, and erodes the value of current inventory with the inevitable need to move that surplus product.  

Alternatively, a company able to accurately forecast by leveraging comprehensive, through-channel metrics allows their business operation and supply chain to become one well-oiled machine. This results in producing far more just-in-time inventory. Just-in-time inventory is the most optimal position for a company. Before automation, IoT, AI, and data management applications, just-in-time inventory was almost impossible to achieve at the enterprise level. Today, just-in-time inventory is possible for all companies no matter their size, as long as the right metrics tool is in place.

The TCMA solution to your “just-in-case” supply

To put it simply, when the supply chain knows where both direct and indirect sales are coming from, they will know how much to supply. How can one get that kind of information? TCMA.

Supply chain teams with an optimal tech stack leveraging true automation can close the gap on just-in-case inventory by capturing comprehensive, through-channel data. And with the industry 4.0 era, there are TCMA software platforms with metrics features that not only track partner opens and redistribution of marketing materials, but also track and collect data on downstream customers. This indirect sales activity can be harnessed further upstream with the right visibility.

More accurate channel sales attribution, more profit

Furthermore, the fact that leads, opportunities, and deals are properly attributed with trackable data also resolves channel conflict across the board. With no channel conflict, companies know exactly where sales are coming from and what volume to expect. These supply chain companies will eventually incorporate revolutionary TCMA tools like xAmplify into their product management to accurately forecast supply and save billions of dollars they would otherwise waste on surplus. Change is constant, and innovation is key.

With the use of a full force TCMA platform, supply chain companies can see immediate snapshots of the health, inventory, and up-to-date manufacturing and production issues. Having insight will help streamline shipping and warehousing, resulting in the most optimal inventory outcomes on a day-to-day basis. The companies that are most efficient will have an inherent competitive advantage over their competition.

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’.)

How CloudStride Grew Channel Sales 30%

CloudStride is a small cloud security and data warehousing startup that serves India as its core service region. The lifeblood of this business is its channel sales, with big distributors (who have their own resellers) as its channel partners. The founder, Sumith Satheesan, noticed his digital channel marketing strategy was a tedious, labor-intensive process. His distributors took several months to engage in co-marketing, if they did at all. There was no fast, easy way to do the work, and he was understaffed.

Most importantly, the strategy he was able to get across his distribution channels had no trackable data to give insight on campaign performance or quarterly forecasting.

“It’s futile to send content when you can’t see who to follow up with,” Sumith told us during our case study interview. “It’s a blind cycle.”

“It’s futile to send content when you can’t see who to follow up with. It’s a blind cycle.”

Sumith Satheesan, CloudStride Founder

The CloudStride Interview

Let’s dive into the case study interview itself, which covers Sumith’s major pain points and how xAmplify was not only a solution for him—but is now also a solution for his distributors, who found the platform so game-changing they’ve since adopted it for their own businesses.  

Channel marketing pain points for CloudStride

  1. Ease of redistribution to scale rapidly
  2. Data insight for campaign optimization
  3. Following up with qualified leads to convert to sales
  4. Onboarding partners quickly

CloudStride had some channel partners in place, but Sumith was having trouble sharing campaigns with them and activating redistribution on a large scale. Sharing content was the main objective.

He would deploy his usual email campaigns, make the followup calls, and so forth. But his marketing team was investing time that he felt was a waste. They couldn’t see how the downstream end users were behaving. He would just wait and hope for a positive outcome. Taking matters into his own hands, Sumith would even attempt to interact with the resellers of his distributors himself. But many would never reply to his follow up emails and calls–and he was never certain if his distributors had even redistributed his campaigns to them in the first place.

The channel sales solution for CloudStride and its channel partners

  1. Metrics to view partner and end user activity
  2. Rapidly increasing sales (30% within the first 3 months)
  3. Easy co-marketing campaigns for him and his distributors
  4. Solidified distributor relationships
  5. Expedited onboarding of partners (now takes only 1.5 to 2 months)

Using xAmplify, Sumith got a more robust solution than he ever imagined. The first thing he boasted to us about were the Two-Tier Metrics. “xAmplify gives you qualified leads,” he laughed. “I now know who to call first! My team calls them [after we see their interaction with our campaign] and converts them.”

With these metrics and the ease of redistribution, his lead generation rapidly increased and his channel sales skyrocketed by 30% within only three months using the platform.  

Sumtih added, “The campaign has such an effect that we’re getting results from the very first email to go out in an entire campaign sequence. The end customers are responding to my distributors and asking about CloudStride.”

“The end customers are responding to my distributors.”

The most surprising outcome for Sumith was how xAmplify has helped solidify his existing relationships with distributors and bring on 49 new reseller partners. He reported that the platform played a major role in this acquisition because the distributors found it so useful and intuitive. As soon as he onboarded his distributors, xAmplify in turn made it much easier to communicate to and through their resellers. Now he has these new partners lined up who want to use the xAmplify platform. “They’re obsessed with it,” Sumith laughed again.

And the icing on the cake? An onboarding process that used to take several months getting his distribution channels to engage in co-marketing strategies now only takes 1.5 to 2 months on average.

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.