AchieveUnite’s Discovery Series is a back-to-basics approach to strategy aimed at helping you learn fast, move quick, and get to market faster than you thought possible.

Last week, I was in a partner’s QBR as well as another industry event where the buzz was about the very definite change occurring in who is buying new solutions and products. We’ve all been talking about the new buyer, their journey and a customer’s experience, and how omni-channel fits into the channel. It got me thinking about relating this to the channel.

We’ve all seen the stats that a potential buyer will have researched and made their decisions anywhere from 55%-85% through online research, peers, and referrals to find what will meet their needs before they even make that first call to a vendor.. So…big picture, how does this relate to a channel strategy and how does this information force us to change to be ready for the buyers of tomorrow?

Legacy IT providers are focused on IT and procurement for budgets, decisions, implementation and ongoing management. Solutions Providers understand and are well versed in addressing the personas of IT and procurement, but most are not familiar with the newest power persona – Line of Business (LOB). These emerging decision makers are becoming the new “influencers of technology.” They are doing their own research, using their own budgets, managing implementation, and managing the services.  The shift in the journey is happening with the fast-moving advancement of “X as a Service” and the need for more advanced automation, information, and analytics. It seems it follows the retail view of the customer journey and the Omni-Channel experience of being wherever the customer is and allowing them to continue their buying experience seamlessly no matter what device or medium they are using.  So, how do we do this for our partners and their new buyers in business?

How to adapt your channel strategy for the new buyer journey:

  1. Evaluate your partner ecosystem and determine where you have gaps and where you need growth. Partner profiling and getting to know your partners better will bring to light those partners that are moving toward the LOB buyer or if they need help getting there. You may find that you need to start recruiting new types of partners, find new individuals within your partners that are focusing on the buyers, and start getting your partners to think differently.
  2. Consider what areas in your partner enablement you need to change. When your training includes targeted buyer personas, you’re helping partners understand how to talk to the influencers and decision makers of their customers. Think about how you can help partners understand the customer’s journey and who within the customer is making the journey and how and when they will interact in the buying decision.
  3. Determine if your channel partner program is ready for the new buyer. Partner programs should help the partner sell your solutions through training, incentives, and rewards based on the value they bring to your company’s revenue growth. One-size fits all programs are yesterday’s programs. Programs should allow for your different types of sellers and how their customers buy and find your solutions. Think influencers and referrals. Measure your partners based on the value they bring to you like: The number of new customers, number of deals registered and closed, the investment they make getting certified, and co-marketing.  Understand the role they play in growing your business and build your program to allow for these new ways of selling.
  4. Re-position your messaging. Start communicating to your partners based on the buyer personas making the decisions. You don’t want to become unrecognizable in your brand communications but you do want to make the adjustments needed to reach them and ensure that sure your partners understand as well, adding value for the user, decision maker, and influencer. Help your partners communicate to their new customers in your partner campaigns and collateral.

Your channel strategy is always evolving based on market changes, your product solutions, or maybe a change in your company’s overall direction. Ensuring your channel strategy is ready for the changes to come will continue to add value to your partners. Helping them transform their sales methods and messaging to stay in touch with the changes of tomorrow will increase your value to them and in turn help your business grow and increase partner loyalty today and tomorrow.

Need help overhauling your partner program? It’s what we do. Let us know how we can help!