Getting your Channel Marketing Right

Author:

Dan Seabrook
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Episode

57

Getting your Channel Marketing Right

Dan Seabrook

VP Sales at Operatix

Graham Smith

UK Marketing Lead for F-Secure

Channel marketing is really easy IF you have a really strong brand and IF you have really strong relationships with channel partners.

Recently, I got to talk with Graham Smith, UK Marketing Lead for F-Secure, about how channel marketing helps F-Secure keep people and businesses safe. 

He pointed out that raising awareness among channel partners and end users is only a challenge if your reputation isn’t strong.

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You can scale partner enablement by having a number of 1-to-1 marketing and communications and a number of 1-to-many communications.

Graham Smith – UK Marketing Lead for F-Secure

3 Solutions to Channel Challenges

F-Secure is well known in the Nordics (it’s based in Helsinki), but it’s raising its brand awareness all around the world.

Naturally, it’s come across few challenges when executing a channel strategy–as well as the solutions from a marketing sales perspective to tackle those challenges.

“It’s a highly competitive landscape,” Graham said. “You are competing for a share of voice and revenue, ultimately with any channel partner, and then the UK channel holistically.”

1) Segment

Clearly segment your channel base, both around existing clients and prospects.

“Then you’ve got a way of focusing your efforts because we’ve all got a limited amount of time and resources,” Graham said.

He suggested three groups: high touch partners (just a few of these), high potential partners, and the smaller partners.

“All of your partner base can bring you revenue. They’re all valuable and important, but by segmenting them, you can focus your efforts where they’re most likely to get a return,” Graham said.

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If you don’t fully understand what the channel wants, you run the risk of being irrelevant and disingenuous.

Graham Smith – UK Marketing Lead for F-Secure

2) Listen

Marketeers typically hold the microphone when it comes to your organization’s communications. 

It’s a privileged but dangerous position.

“If you don’t fully understand what the channel wants, you run the risk of being irrelevant and disingenuous,” Graham said.

Channel marketers need to A) be in the field as much as possible and b) network. Including with marketing counterparts, sales teams, and leadership teams.

Listeners ask questions.

“From a cybersecurity perspective, the questions I tend to ask our channel partners are, Why do your clients buy F-Secure, and why don’t they buy us?” Graham said. “Listening to these answers can help you shape future communications and make sure that you win more than you lose.”

3) Prove Your Value

Marketing from technology vendors to the channel is often a list of generic, unquantified benefits.

Drive your business growth by selling our solutions to your customers. 

Which might be true, but these communications don’t answer crucial questions, like Why should I buy F-Secure and not some other cybersecurity solution?

Instead, entertain this shift in mindset:

“The current mindset amongst vendors is we’ve got to keep telling the channel how great our technology is. That needs to change so the channel is instead saying to its vendors, I’ve got a great customer for you,” Graham said.

When a channel partner genuinely offers a vendor a solution that is your company and offers to take them along that journey–that’s golden.

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All of your partner base can bring you revenue, by segmenting them, you can focus your efforts where they’re most likely to get a return.

Graham Smith – UK Marketing Lead for F-Secure

Scaling Partner Enablement

If you segment partners–as you should–you’re still acknowledging that all partners matter a lot. How, then, can you scale partner enablement?

Graham said it perfectly: “You can scale partner enablement by having a number of 1-to-1 marketing and communications, almost account based marketing for the channel, and a number of 1-to-many communications. That way you can be personal but also provide marketing support that can be accessed by all of your channel partners, whether they’re big or small.”

An idea of a 1-to-1 marketing communication could be something like a specific co-branded landing page. And a 1-to-many example would be webinars, for example.

Communication and community go hand-in-hand.

“Being part of a channel community allows you to listen and interact with a relevant audience,” Graham said.

Channel marketers need to listen and understand, not merely participate. Channel partners can give you insight about the problems they are encountering, and knowing their pain points can inform your channel marketing.

“Brands don’t actually have to say anything in this context. Just facilitating and amplifying conversations between a relevant community of peers can work,” he added.

Case in point. At a recent event in London, Operatix facilitated a panel-led event for 25 marketing professionals–not to talk about Operatix but to talk Marketing. Eventually, the panel stopped talking so the audience could ask more questions–and talk to each other.

That’s an example of stimulating conversation among like-minded professionals and not pushing your solution down their throats.

It’s really a partnership. “The work that you’re doing, as well as all the other marketing efforts that we do to drive leads and ultimately revenue, is really important,” Graham said.

To connect with Graham and learn more about F-Secure or continue the conversation offline, contact him on LinkedIn


This post is based on an interview with Graham Smith from F-Secure.

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About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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