Those Were the Days
Some of us may remember the time when a sales manager would send a stack of brochures and sell sheets to his reseller partners and sit back and let them sell. Occasionally, he would send them leads he obtained from bingo cards in trade magazines. He probably thought he was doing a great sales management job. His resellers would stamp their names on the brochures and drop them off at every nearby prospective customer site. They also thought they were doing a great job. Actually, the process did seem to work and the more aggressive resellers were often able to land a sale.
Fast Forward to Today
Well, that was then and this is now. B2B channel partner marketing has so evolved that some old timers wouldn’t recognize it. It is a whole new world and it’s mainly due to the meteoric rise of advanced technologies. We’re talking about hand-held devices, mobile computing, the Cloud, SaaS, social media, blogs, and Internet marketing as just a few of the major breakthroughs impacting channel sales. These developments have come at us so fast that many organizations are struggling just to keep up. Infrastructure is the new watch word and organizations are going to have to be willing to invest more in their own technology infrastructures. This includes suppliers and resellers.
The Changing Face of the Buyer
Probably nothing has changed more than the face of the buyer. In days past, the reseller’s role was to seek out buyers, gain their trust, educate them as to the benefits of a specific product or services and consult with them as to the best solution for a particular problem or need. Today’s buyers are far more sophisticated and savvy as to the solution they want for a certain requirement. Due to the power of the Internet, today’s buyers are self-empowered to conduct their own research and prefer to reach out to sellers when they are ready, rather than sellers reaching out to them. This is called in-bound marketing and is a phenomenon channel marketers can’t ignore.
In this environment, marketing has to take the lead. Since buyers are no longer looking to salespeople to introduce them to product and services, suppliers and resellers have to be where the buyers are – online. Strong, compelling and provocative content will be absolutely essential in getting buyers’ attention, piquing their interest, pulling them in, and engaging them in a conversation that will lead to a business relationship. This will be a challenge for suppliers and resellers to reinvest in their infrastructures, find better ways to collaborate, and significantly strengthen their on-line presence.
Partner Infrastructure vs Partner Portals
Many suppliers maintain partner portals to provide their resellers product information, training, market information and customer/prospect data. The trend in 2015 seems to be that channel partners are beginning to invest in their own marketing infrastructure to more closely align with their prospective customers and control their own messaging. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it enables suppliers and their resellers to more closely collaborate and offer more relevant and rich content to a particular reseller’s marketplace. No matter which road taken, channel partner sales has to continually reinvent itself to keep pace with the changing make-up of its buyers. At the end of the day, it’s not how you find your buyers, but how well you’re able to connect with them where they are and pull them into your world!