Chris Becwar at Channel Management published a post last week that points to? one of the central challenges channel partner marketers face today, a challenge we discuss frequently at SocialRep: how do you enable channel partners to market most effectively?
It’s a seemingly simple question with a time-honored answer: sales incentives! If you provide the right incentives, channel partners will? move heaven and earth to close deals. What’s missing from that simple equation is the depth of disruption rocking the global IT channel, reducing the effectiveness of? traditional incentive approaches.
At the root of the disruption is cloud computing.? As businesses migrate more of their own high-cost data? storage and processing to the cloud, traditional IT channel partners, including VARs, integrators and distributers, have to make a radical shift? themselves, from selling hardware to selling data services. Everything about the business model is different, requiring new skills, new capabilities and even a new mindset from partners who have been doing business a certain way for ages.
[In the industry, this shift is? known? as a change from CapEx (Capital Expense) to OpEx (Operating Expense), signifying the shift from buying or selling hardware as a capital investment to buying or selling data services as an operating expense. This has dramatic financial implications, from initial cost to tax write offs, as well as service implications for the way these systems are integrated and maintained.]
Like every other area of the economy where we see disruption driving? new ways of doing business,? the CapEx-OpEx shift? is disrupting the? channel. Many well-established channel partners that have been doing business in a well-established way for decades are finding it hard to make the shift, while upstart companies born and bred for OpEx? don’t have the volume of sales or resources to get the attention of? big vendors.
In this disrupted environment, which not coincidentally runs parallel to the disruptive shift from outbound to inbound marketing techniques, vendors are finding it increasingly difficult? to identify and enable? channel partners that will survive much less thrive in the new reality. Sales incentives are still a critical motivational tool for driving channel sales, but simply measuring success after the close is no longer sufficient. Channel partner managers need a lot more visibility into ? partner marketing performance in real time to help identify individual partners that can successfully engage the market, and to identify the trends that reveal? the types of channel partners who are succeeding so they can make more intelligent and agile investments with their MDF dollars.
Waiting until the end-of-quarter revenue numbers roll in is no longer a recipe for success. Channel marketers need real-time visibility into partner marketing performance, so they can? see which partners are able to engage customers at every state of the sales cycle. That way marketers can? tie sales? incentives to leading as well as lagging indicators of success, and use MDF dollars more wisely. Inbound Channel Marketing, the process of enabling partners to engage? customers with? timely and targeted content to attract incoming leads, is a perfect solution to gain that visibility and? use sales incentives to build a more agile and effective channel partner community.