Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Hit Your Channel Sales Goals with ROI Selling

Rightly or wrongly, a growing number of companies perceive direct sales as ever more expensive. As a result, many companies are looking to channel partners as a more efficient revenue source. A survey reveals that the majority of B2B firms are now generating 60% of their revenue through indirect channels (The 2112 Group).

If you are in tech, Accenture reports an even more significant 70% of revenue now comes from the typical channel program, with this expected to grow to 80% or more over the next 12 months. To attract and enable partners, tech firms are investing more towards channel Incentives, now one of the largest marketing expenditures, with the typical technology provider allocating 3% to 5% of revenue to indirect channel incentives (Accenture).

As being responsible for Channel Marketing and Enablement, you know the pressure is on to make sure these investments pay off, and that your programs deliver. You have to attract more, retain better and enable further – providing the best go-to-market partner programs and enablement tools, but these efforts face challenges.

The obvious, is that your partners aren’t dedicated just to you. If you want to advance partner sales and marketing capabilities, you have to fight it out with your competitors just to get a little mindshare or engage in costly deal specific discounts just to win more business. Often, you have to invest more in time, market development funds, content, tools and training than the other guys. But budgets aren’t endless, and more isn’t more, so nowadays you have to be more creative and different than ever to stand-apart.

The second challenge, is that many of your channel partners haven’t kept pace with changes in buying behaviors. For example:
  1. Engaging earlier is a requirement, with 74% of deals going to the provider setting the buying agenda (according to Forrester), but most partners are notorious at engaging late in the sales cycle, and merely responding to solution requests and RFPs.
  2. Engaging higher is essential, with 80% of budgets now controlled by executives, however most partner reps are most comfortable with pitching to technical staff and line managers versus business leaders.
  3. Value is a requirement, with 90% of purchase decisions requiring ROI justification, however, 93% of channel reps just “show up and throw up”, selling on features and price vs. value.

Your channel partners have to do more than just “pitch”, instead challenging buyers to change and articulating the unique value of your solution. They are looking to you for help, so you have to enable them to do more, better with your solutions, than the competition.

You need to make it easy for channel partner sales reps to communicate with confidence the value of YOUR solutions to prospects with guided story telling tools.  Help them lead conversations that establishes their personal credibility better than your competitors.  Provide them the tools and content so that you are their “go to” vendor in challenge solving discussions with their customers.

To help your channel partners market and sell more effectively, and give your program the campaigns and tools needed to stand apart, we recommend the following three step program:
  1. Engage Earlier – developing turnkey marketing campaigns for your partners, not around your solutions / services, but around the buyer’s challenges.
  2. Engage Higher – delivering assessment and benchmarking tools to help partners interactively assess and benchmark prospect challenges, and build roadmaps (leveraging your solutions) for improvements.
  3. Engage with Value – empowering your partners with the ability to quickly and credibly develop ROI business cases and TCO comparisons.

Here’s a few examples of leaders just like you implementing these engagement programs, and the impact it has had on their business:

Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise Challenge
Microsoft needed to accelerate the migration to Windows 10 Enterprise, however channel partners were having a hard time communicating and quantifying the value of the migration to ever more frugal enterprises.

Alinean worked with Microsoft to develop an interactive tool and migration program to help channel partners to engage earlier, higher and with value - helping assess the “do nothing” cost of delaying Windows 10 Enterprise upgrades and the value of migration.

Leveraging the ROI tool in “Challenge” email and social marketing campaigns, partners were able to gain more leads and meetings by promoting an assessment versus the typical pitch. An on-line self-service version was promoted first to capture and drive leads to top-tier partners.

Once the opportunity was captured, a meeting was scheduled, leveraging the tool to shape the customer conversation so it wasn’t about the features of Windows 10 Enterprise, but about the challenges of the prospect remaining with older OS versions. The tool made it easy for partners by providing personalized value storytelling and the financial justification needed to make the case for quicker migration.

The campaign has led to over 100 large enterprise analyses a month and an estimated 6-month acceleration per engagement.

ShoreTel TCO Guarantee 
ShoreTel, a very cost effective unified communication (UC) provider needed to compete with several much larger, legacy providers including Cisco, Avaya and Mitel. It had a large cost advantage, but partners weren’t able to clearly and credibly quantify this to ever more frugal and skeptical prospects.

ShoreTel worked with Alinean to create a tool driven marketing and channel sales campaign, the TCO Guarantee Program, designed to help channel partners prove to prospects the significant 30-40% cost savings from the ShoreTel solution.

The toolkit included a:

  1. Self-service website tool, to quickly provide personalized savings estimates, driving earlier buyer engagement and more qualified leads to partners
  2. Interactive TCO Sales Tool, to enable partner sales reps to assess opportunities and differentiate ShoreTel from the status quo and competitors.
  3. A TCO guarantee program, which partners could offer to prospects who conducted an analysis, assuring a solid commitment to the results.


The partner enablement was responsible for elevating win rates from 62% to 90%, driving a 10% increase in deal size and a $30M increase in annual revenue (year over year for 5 years).


Checkout a slide deck on this topic: http://www.slideshare.net/Alinean/hit-your-b2b-channel-sales-goals-with-roi-value-selling-partner-marketing-enablement

Click here to checkout the webcast on-demand: https://youtu.be/41kzJy4OVVU

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