Unlocking Partnership Power
How Vendor Sales Enablement Fuels Shared Success
Are you making the most of your B2B marketing opportunity? Is your Sales Enablement approach letting you down. Read this article to find out what you might be missing >
#MarketingAnimals #B2BMarketing #ChannelParners
Ian C Tomlin
ALMOST EVERY B2B BUSINESS HAS CHANNEL AND AFFINITY PARTNERS THAT CAN BENEFIT FROM A COLLABORATIVE APPROACH TO WINNING CUSTOMERS. A crucial element of thEsE allianceS IS sales enablement, the practice of equipping partners with resources to empower their sales efforts. HOW DO YOU GIVE YOUR PARTNER CHANNELS THE RIGHT BALANCE OF SUPPORT, COMMUNICATIONS, AND RESOURCES THEY NEED TO SUCCEED? READ THIS ARTICLE AND GET THE FACTS >
In today’s competitive landscape, collaboration is key. This is especially true for businesses, where partnering with vendors can unlock a wealth of resources and expertise. Sales enablement, the process of equipping sales teams with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed, is a crucial area where vendor-partner partnerships can truly flourish.
A comprehensive enablement program fosters loyalty and retention, reducing churn and ensuring a stable partner ecosystem. Moreover, partners equipped with effective tools and knowledge become brand evangelists, driving positive word-of-mouth marketing and expanding brand reach.
As Forrester Research asserts, “For every dollar invested in partner enablement, vendors see a $5.60 return” (Forrester Research, 2020).
That said, like everything else in the B2B marketing world, how brand engage with sales channel and affinity partners to tap into new buying audiences, and drive through sales opportunities, etc. has all changed in the last decade.
The List of Partner ‘Wants’ is Growing
Vendor-provided sales enablement resources come in a dazzling array of formats. Training programs, from live workshops to online modules, equip partners with product knowledge, sales methodologies, and customer engagement best practices. Content libraries, bursting with case studies, white papers, and presentations, arm partners with ready-to-use materials to educate and inform potential customers. Sales tools like CRM integrations and proposal generators streamline processes and enhance efficiency.
Traditionally, vendor sales enablement aimed at partners fell into categories like:
Business Success Coaching (e.g., to help partner leaders with business and marketing strategy planning)
Pricing Support (e.g., to aid partners on financing for bids)
Content (e.g., case studies, white papers)
Tools (e.g., sales calculators, demo platforms, CRM systems, etc.)
Certified Training (e.g., product webinars, certification programs)
Copywriting Support (e.g. for PR and RFP/Tender Responses)
Events (i.e., to build commitment with partners, reward success, and sometimes drive interest within partner audiences)
Added to these areas in recent years we’ve seen more collaboration and interactivity happening in partner channels, things like:
Webinar and Podcast Programming (i.e., running a podcast or webinar series on your topic that partners can participate in)
SME Co-Events (i.e., making subject-matter experts available to speak at partner coordinated events and roadshows when partners lack the skills, time or resources to run events for themselves)
Forum-based Partner Hubs (i.e., to build a community of interest around partners where partners can share knowledge and skills between themselves)
Partners are valuable but they don’t always have your priorities front-of-mind. The harder it is for them to sell your wares, the lower their energy becomes. The secret of successful sales enablement is to make it easy for partners to profit from recommending your brand, without hassle.
Building a Community of Interest
Fostering a partner community where knowledge and assets are shared unlocks an even greater level of collective success.
A secure online platform allowing partners to exchange best practices, case studies, and even co-developed content creates a dynamic ecosystem of shared expertise. This not only benefits individual partners but also fuels innovation and accelerates learning across the entire ecosystem.
When building a successful community of interest, the technology ‘hub’ that creates ‘a place to meet and share’ online is key. Having got the technology in place the next bit job is to build sufficient brand equity to make it worthwhile for partners to commit time and energy into joining in. Creating communities is not a free lunch … you will need to invest in build value in the brand relationship.
Nevertheless, doing so, builds a brand loyalty that extends ‘outside’ of an particular sales activity or pipeline event. Such investments build on trust and collaboration, growing a stronger brand loyalty.
The long-term rewards are worth it: As Gartner research aptly points out, “effective partner enablement programs can increase partner sales by 20-30%” (Gartner, 2020).
Creating a community where partners can share knowledge and assets, foster an environment of continuous learning and improvement. This collaborative spirit leads to cross-pollination of ideas, resulting in innovative solutions and best practices that benefit everyone.
A 2022 Forrester study highlights the power of peer-to-peer learning, stating that “companies with strong partner ecosystems are 20% more profitable than those without” (Forrester, 2022).
Content is Valued When It Can Be Customized
While marketing tools and sales enablement assets – like literature, competitor analysis, sales playbooks and cheat sheets, etc. – hold intrinsic value, their true potential lies in customization.
A modular content library featuring editable presentations, infographics, and blog templates empowers partners to tailor messaging to resonate with their audiences. As industry analyst Mike Myatt emphasizes, “Partners need to adapt your materials to their own brand voice, industry vertical, and specific customer needs.” (Myatt, 2022).
This resonates with 78% of B2B marketers who agree that “partners who customize content perform better” (Marketo, 2023).
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Helping Partners to Target Customers
For any business, targeting the right audience is crucial for success. Vendors love it when you can help them to identify a “within reach” target market to further amplify their success.
This is where suppliers can step in as trusted advisors. By leveraging market research, data analytics, and customer insights, vendors can help partners identify their ideal customer profiles and “within their reach” audiences. Tools like predictive analytics and customer segmentation models, coupled with expert consultations, can help partners pinpoint ideal customer profiles. This data-driven approach ensures that partners focus their efforts on the most promising prospects, maximizing their return on investment.
By helping partners find their sweet spot, vendors foster mutual growth and solidify the alliance.
Such targeted initiatives, as McKinsey & Company notes, “boost partner acquisition by 20% and revenue by 35%” (McKinsey & Company, 2021).
A Podcast is a Channel, Not an Event
It’s no good thinking of a podcast in the same frame as once only webinar events, they are a completely different beast.
You need to plan a podcast as if it were an always-on white labelled radio station with a regular host, regular programs, and a coherent focal point of content topic that appeals to your target audience.
It’s a long-haul game, where you need to invest a great deal of energy, investment and time into your channel to build a listenership.
Just like online apps, your first challenge is to build sufficient value to draw the attention of your audience if you are to avoid obscurity.
It really is a ‘clicks to cash’ – or in this case an ‘ears to cash’ 😉 business model!
And you will need to invest in some pretty solid digital equipment upfront to make sure the quality of your productions pass muster.
Partnerships are moving towards a community-centricity model and real-time personalized engagement treatments.
The synergy between vendor-provided sales enablement resources and partner customization unlocks a treasure trove of benefits for both parties. This collaborative approach rests on three pillars:
Empowering Partners: Providing a diverse range of resources and the flexibility to adapt them to unique needs ensures partners have the tools to thrive.
Guiding the Way: Assisting partners in identifying their target audience through data-driven insights paves the path to efficient and impactful sales efforts.
Building a Community: Fostering a collaborative environment where partners share knowledge and assets creates a win-win situation for all stakeholders.
Embracing these principles, vendors and partners can embark on a journey of shared success, propelling each other to new heights in the competitive landscape. Remember, the greatest treasures are often found not in isolation, but in the collaborative spirit of a thriving ecosystem.