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Channel Matters Blog > July 2015 > 3 Steps to Developing a Channel Value Proposition

3 Steps to Developing a Channel Value Proposition

by Rich Blakeman
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Marketers and salespeople alike understand that a value proposition isn't just about the features and benefits of a particular product or service. The value proposition also includes all of the sundry elements that wrap around your product and create the total value picture for your end customer. Of course, when you sell through an indirect channel, that includes channel partners.

It's Not About You
The biggest complaint I hear from channel organizations is that they can't get their channel partners to reliably deliver their value proposition to end customers. We've talked about this issue in a couple of posts already this year:

Are Your Partners Part of Your Value Proposition?

Pitching the Value Proposition Through the Channel

The bottom line is that your value proposition isn't all about you. When you're selling through an indirect channel, your channel partners have a role in creating value - sometimes a very big role. Today, I want to take the discussion one level deeper and talk about helping channel partners "discover" their value proposition.

3 Steps to Creating a Compelling Value Prop
It would be a mistake to assume that channel partners understand how to craft a compelling value proposition or that they even understand what value they add. Channel managers may need to borrow a hat from product marketing when they provide coaching in this area. Here are three steps to crafting a compelling value prop with channel partners.

Step #1 - Determine the Value Add
Marketing's carefully crafted value propositions sometimes have very little to do with what customers (at least those sold to indirectly) are actually looking to achieve with your products and services. The closer your channel managers get to real customer stories, the better they'll be able to help your partners craft their own version of the value proposition.

Of course, "getting close" doesn't mean getting right in there and engaging the customer directly. However, channel managers should have an intimate familiarity with key accounts and opportunities in the funnel. The key here is to be the company's internal expert on what indirect customers are looking to fix, accomplish, or avoid.

Step #2 - Uncover Your Channel Partner's Unique Strengths
Another reason the canned value proposition statements don't work well with channel partners is that the value they add differs from partner to partner. However, if your channel managers have done a good job in their joint partner planning, they will be experts in the value that each partner brings to the table. Their job now is to help the channel partner buy into their unique strengths (acknowledging them, but also being realistic about what value they actually add) and weave these unique strengths into the story they share with end users.

Step #3 - Coach Partners in Delivery
Finally, the value customers are looking for varies. For that matter, each buyer on the customer's buying team may have a different concept of what they are looking to fix, accomplish, or avoid. Marketers always tell us to put the value proposition in our own words. Perhaps what they should be saying is that we need to put the value proposition in our customer's words. This will be different for every customer every time, and your partners need to become nimble at tailoring their version of the value proposition.  

But That's Marketing's Job
With all this talk about crafting a compelling value proposition in the field, some of you may be thinking that I'm asking your channel managers to do the job marketing was hired to do.

Not at all. Some marketing teams are better than others at understanding the value your product or service provides to the segment of customers who buy indirectly. However, no marketing team is ever going to be as close to the channel partners as the channel managers. Nor are they going to take the time to develop a tailored value proposition for each partner or help the partner tweak it for a specific customer's solution concept.

That level of direct contact and partner understanding is something marketing will never have. In fact, it's one of the unique strengths of channel managers that makes up their value proposition to the organization and their channel partners.
Last modified on 11/23/2017 3:48:18 AM
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