Ready. Set. Build a channel partner program! Not so fast! The potential to reduce costs, improve efficiency, gain more customers, and tap into new markets is very enticing when it comes to channel partners. But the reality is, a successful channel partner program requires a lot of support, time, and what our guest, Louis Gudema calls, “Tender Loving Marketing”.
Our most recent guest on Unleash Possible, Louis Gudema, dives into this topic of channel partners and channel enablement. In his book, “Bullseye Marketing”, he outlines hundreds of tips and best practices for organizations building a partner channel or honing an existing one.
One of the first steps we discussed was deciding if a channel partner program is right for your organization. Louis recommends you conduct a fundamental assessment of your current marketing and sales activities that support your existing inbound sales channel before deciding. Many companies find they are not utilizing their internal marketing assets to their fullest. Areas such as web site optimization, quality email marketing lists, organic social media, targeted display advertising, etc., should be functioning well before you entertain a channel partner program. If you’re having trouble with marketing your own sales channel, truth is, you will probably struggle to create a successful channel partner program.
A big misconception with a channel program strategy, is that it will be an easy way to increase sales and tap new markets by simply letting someone else sell your products or services for you. You’d be surprised how many channel partners are not equipped organizationally to market your products, or once you have partners in place, they simply are not doing any marketing at all. Chances are, your product is not the only one vying for their attention, so what will motivate them and keep them engaged? A solid and consistent marketing plan, that provides them with the tools and constant support needed, is crucial to keeping your product in the forefront. Your marketing efforts need to make your partners feel like your product is their own. Supporting and building a successful sales channel is not easy, but with consistent “Tender Loving Marketing”, your channel will be effective.
Tune in to episode #27 of Unleash Possible and see if this is the right time for you to consider implementing a channel partner program.