Channel Marketplace Blog

Partner Engagement in a Crisis: Why it is More Critical than Ever

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 30, 2020 6:08:33 AM / by Claudio Ayub

Claudio Ayub

The second quarter of 2020 is coming to and end, and many channel vendors are still struggling to realign their partner engagement strategies to this new normal.

Most vendor quarterly business reviews and planning meetings I attend these days center around partner engagement and recognition. The current disruption has definitively accelerated digital transformation which continues to impact every level of the partner ecosystem, making engagement and loyalty even more important these days.

With major partner conferences gone digital, partner engagement and loyalty is dwindling fast, and many partners are engaging new vendors they never thought to engage before. The “Zoom Syndrome” some argue, but its undeniable that the lack of face-to-face engagement between vendors and partners is creating opportunity for disruptive vendors with solid digital engagement strategies that deliver value for partners.

When partners decide to invest their time and resources in a vendor partnership, they are more likely to engage with vendors who can clearly articulate the type of benefits and incentives partners will earn through their journey. Partners specifically look for vendors that recognize and reward their enablement and pre-sales activities to match their initial time investment. Partner also look for vendors who are “easy to do business with” and provide a modern partner experience with online dashboards that keep partners informed about where they stand in that journey.

Partner recognize how much more difficult it is for them to engage prospective buyers, as the new remote buyer demands a whole new level of sophistication from partners; from understanding their buying journey and meeting their information requirements, to positioning an offer tailored to the particular buyer's demand type. And partner are finally listening and asking vendors for the tools and the training to engage the new digital buyer.

This is where Incentives Automation (IA) becomes an important layer of functionality which integrated with PRM, training, and marketing automation; enrich the partner experience and therefore loyalty. By recognizing and rewarding most activities and behaviors that lead to the desired outcomes, top performing vendors are keeping partner engagement very rewarding, while amplifying partner loyalty.

Hence, I want to share with you some of our best partner engagement and recognition practices for these disruptive times.

Move to a gamified engagement scheme to gain partners’ attention and commitment to a process that they are less likely to abandon.

In a gamified model, a partner company and its teams earn recognition and benefits for all the activities and behaviors that lead to the desired results:

  1. New Partners - Recognize and reward for (on-boarding):
    1. Registration and Contracting - Complete registration and contracting requirements during a specific period of time
    2. Staff Induction and Training – Complete minimum training requirements to complete registration above
    3. Access to systems – Complete registration to sales and marketing enablement systems
    4. Accreditation – Complete review of accreditation resources and tools
  2. Existing Partners - Recognize and reward for (engagement):
    1. Social selling - join a community and create a persona, laser-target prospects, network digitally among vendor, partner, and buyer
    2. Systems Utilization of sales and marketing enablement resources in alignment with the buyer’s journey
    3. Deals Registered (approved), Inviting PAM/CAM on calls to deals reg, Proof of Concept, Deal Closing

Recognize and reward the string of productive activities and behaviors that accelerate a partner’s time to revenue.

  1. Demand Creation – Learning
    1. Buyers Journey Accreditation – Formal understanding of the digital buyer’s journey, stages, buying groups, scenarios, etc.
    2. Recognizing Demand Type Accreditation – Formal understanding of how to recognize demand type and inflection points
    3. Multi-Nurture Campaigns Accreditation – Formal understanding of how to use the four critical elements in digital marketing (messaging, offers, tactics, and data collection).
    4. Execution of Account Based Marketing, Sales Sequences, Social Selling - Partners develop leads using multi-touch lead nurturing programs.
  2. Lead Management – Closed-loop lead reporting
    1. Converting Vendor/Partner MQLs to SALs
    2. Converting Partner SALs to SQLs and Deal Reg (approved)
    3. Booking a virtual meeting among the partner, PAM/CAM and the (Deal Reg) customer
    4. Agreeing to a Proof of Concept among the partner, PAM/CAM and the Deal Reg customer
  3. Opportunity Management –
    1. Deal Reg (closed)
    2. Additional subscriptions
    3. Consumption
    4. Renewals

Remember, anything that can be measured can be rewarded. This is also true on social channels where social sharing of activities and behaviors among a partner’s individual team can indeed be recognized and rewarded. Prioritizing partner engagement today, is the key to unlocking post crisis growth.

If you have questions about channel engagement and incentives, feel free to reach out through the Channel Marketplace Concierge service.

Topics: Engagement, Strategy

Claudio Ayub

Written by Claudio Ayub

Claudio brings over 20 years of global channel marketing experience to 360insights. He’s an incentives and loyalty expert with broad knowledge in strategy development, market management and channel sales planning, who has developed and executed major go-to-market programs for many brands. Claudio is a management strategist with expertise in business, finance, sales/marketing, strategic planning, and customer relationship management; an area he’s excelled at by executing complex CRM implementations, customizations, and business process re-engineering for CRM applications. Today he leads the 360 Technology, Media, Telecom practice at 360insights.