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Channel Matters Blog > February 2013 > Influencer channel delivers strong revenue growth

Influencer channel delivers strong revenue growth

by Philip Moon
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Channel Enablers notes with interest the success of a major systems vendor who established a dedicated channel sales and marketing team focused on influencer partners. It’s a real-life demonstration of channels best practice execution that sets a benchmark for other vendors.

Organizations such as Systems Integrators (SIs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are often heavily involved in major IT purchase decisions. A high percentage of end-user organizations indicate that such influencers are heavily involved in needs identification, information gathering, vendor evaluation and post-sales support; even more so for business decisions than infrastructure solution decisions.

The major systems vendor, who has declined to be named, set out to achieve greater mindshare and focus from these decision influencers in order to reach new markets and new customers. The new Influencer Team was charged with putting together all the channel processes, tools, rules of engagement, agreements and marketing execution framework required to drive high quality solution creation and partner recommendations in high return opportunity markets, geographies and solutions. The team has experienced tremendous success; high revenue growth enabled them to exceed their revenue targets each year and their accomplishments were recognized by internal awards from vendor executives.

The team established a new way for the vendor to interact with major influencer partners. Major proposals were built around joint long-term teaming agreements that clearly articulate how the vendor and the partner will work together to build solutions and how they will jointly turn that potential into incremental revenue for both parties.

Leaders of the new Influencer Team recognized that many of their traditional partnering processes were not well suited to an influencer model. Part of the challenge faced by the vendor executives was to equip their channel sales people with the skills, tools and processes they needed to succeed.

Channel Enablers had been fortunate enough to work with this vendor on other engagements and we were invited to help the new team become productive as quickly as possible.  The key reasons for choosing Channel Enablers were:
  • Speed to market, speed to enablement
  • Past experience and credibility
  • The ability to seamlessly integrate vendor specific content with pre-existing Channel Enablers content to create an effective learning experience
During the first year of the program the development objective was that the new team understand the new engagement model and strategy – or as they put it “Understand the job that you have to do.” While vendor executives had already defined the engagement model more was needed to enable the field. It was decided that some education for their channel sales people was required to really help them understand the influencer approach and get up to speed quickly. Close integration between Channel Enablers training content and vendor specific content was essential to enable the new Influencer team to execute their roles. 

In the second year the development focus changed to propagating best practices that emerged from the team’s first year of operation.  Workshops to apply the tools, templates, processes and practices that were proven to be most effective in helping the channel sales team do their job and achieve the revenue and business return forecast by the teaming agreements they established.

Growth is hard to come by in tough economic times, but the Influencer Team has been very successful leveraging incremental business with key influencer partners. Vendor executives said the keys to the success of their initiative are:
  • Customization. What makes the program unique is how well the formalized Channel Enablers content was effectively blended with vendor specific content to meet their needs.
  • Field experience and credibility. Experienced channels consultants were able to deliver this joint content in such a way that it added value to the vendor channel sales team 
We congratulate our vendor client on the success of their initiative (you know who you are!) It’s a real-life demonstration of channels best practice execution that others would do well to take note of.
  • First they identified the market opportunity and recognized that a new route-to-market approach was required.
  • They did the work to understand how their end-user customers make decisions and investigated all of the factors that end-users required to make a buying decision in the vendors favor.
  • Next the vendor identified target partner organizations that were involved in satisfying end-user requirements, across the entire buying process.
  • They established a focused channel sales team and equipped them with the skills, enablement resources, partner programs, processes and partner incentives to influence partner behavior and drive win-win outcomes.
  • They executed well documented joint plans in the field through a properly trained and empowered channel sales force
  • They ensured that the activities of their dedicated team were properly aligned with the activities of their other more traditional channel-sales teams to avoid internal competition and channel conflict.
We congratulate this rather modest, un-named systems vendor and look forward to working with them again!

Last modified on 6/30/2013 10:11:22 PM
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