As businesses try to navigate an unpredictable post-pandemic economy, one thing we’ve learned is that luck favors the prepared. Read tips for motivating your channel partners when the economy is uncertain and “business nerves” are fried.

In the current climate, many businesses are learning how to navigate the post-pandemic economy, including a (possible?) recession, ongoing supply chain issues, the Great Resignation, and whatever else pops up. But one thing we’ve learned over the past few years is that fortune favors the prepared.

At ChannelCon 2022, Heather K. Margolis and Aquila Murrell, both of 360Insights, offered their top tips on how vendors can encourage their partners to sell their solutions when the economy is uncertain and “business nerves” are frayed during of the session, “Motivate and enable partners to sell your solutions.”

Know and value your partners

Whether you’ve been in business together for years or they’re a new partner, a business slowdown or “downtime” is an opportunity to do a productive deep dive into who your partner is and what their pain point is right now. Things have probably changed for your partners over the past few years—employees and roles have changed, budgets have realigned, products or services are primed for breakthrough. Just by doing your homework, you can engage your partner in solutions that will work for what they need at that moment.

“Right now, really understanding where your partner is coming from and meeting their immediate needs is most important,” Murrell said. With so much growth and change happening in IT channels, building your partner relationships is an integral step in solidifying your role as a trusted solutions provider. You don’t want to lose to a competitor because you didn’t do your homework.

Train your partners

Staying in business can also be a boon of opportunity, because now there is room to consider big or long-term plans or to fine-tune the smaller but effective strategies that have been discarded during the last few chaotic years.

Once you’ve assessed the landscape for your partner, it’s time to align what you see as the most cost-effective and impactful solutions with their vision. Now is not the time for the status quo. Due to the uncertain economic climate, there is a convergence of “megatrends” that are changing the technology market and channels. Things like the pandemic experience, demographic changes, customer expectations, sustainability, everything as a service and more have led to huge impacts on channel marketing, including:

  • Technology redefining procurement, partner roles and value proposition.
  • New types of partners are entering the channel.
  • Business needs development in the rebalanced economy.
  • Sales and experience take precedence over price.

“During a recession, companies look to cut programs, cut budgets, cut back, but there’s a danger in that,” Margolis said. “A recession is not the time to step on the gas. Loyalty can fizzle out if you don’t show value back to your partner customers.”

Engage your partners with MDF

MDFs – Marketing Distribution Funds – are a resource that a seller provides to their partners in the indirect sales channel to help with sales and marketing programs. An example is “X amount of engagement can credit partner with X dollar amount” in MDF to be used for services, add-ons or cash rewards. In the right hands, it’s like bonus money to build your business. Planning, coordinating with vendor partners, and executing the programs supported by MDF are considered critical success factors.

Murrell and Margolis agree: Enabling your partners to spend MDF wisely is the best investment for their business.

“If a company wants to create a digital marketing campaign that drives customers to their website, but their website is hard to navigate, that’s not good for anyone,” Margolis said.

Instead, she suggests looking at where the company is at the moment in its journey and seeing where the funds would have the most impact. “If you can give [MDF] to partners who show initiative, who will use it in the right way, that’s the goal. You want partners who have a clear idea of ​​how to spend money wisely for the business,” Margolis said.

Promote the right things

In Once Upon a Time, highest sales revenue was the only trophy. But much more goes into building a quality, positive customer experience. Other aspects—think reliable customer engagement, active social promotion, interesting and engaging content—are proven metrics that turn a qualified lead (MQL) into a qualified sales lead (SQL). Sales teams and companies emphasizing quality In addition to quantity will reap the rewards.

“People do business with people, not brands. You want to drive behaviors that move the needle,” Murrell said.

Support your partners in encouraging their staff to do their best without forcing it or making it a requirement. how? One way, Margolis suggests, is to make social engagement part of channel manager training. The peer-to-peer network comes into play and ensures that there are more people driving an audience than just them.

Coordinate content with your partners

Equipping your partners with the right content throughout the sales funnel is like enjoying the whole cake, not just the icing, because the more content you have, the more engagement opportunities there are for your partners to push your decisions and their messages. But “posting just to post” is not a quality commitment. Showcase your best content and it will be an easy decision for your partners to want to share it too.

“If you can share affiliate content, it gets more eyeballs. Engage with that content and you both increase your reach,” Margolis said. “And creating content across the funnel adds to the possibilities.”

“You want to give partners a reason to share your content,” says Akila. “Show the joint value proposition and they’re more likely to share, repost and engage with you.”

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