This Week’s Big Deal: Lend Your Channel Partners a Helping Hand

November 2, 2018

Two Business Partners Shaking Hands

Today it’s becoming more common to see vendors partner up with other companies in their sales efforts. Why wouldn’t they? Anyone who isn’t your competitor can be your ally, and we can all use more of those in this big digital world.

Our own allies on the LinkedIn Marketing side recently held a Partner Connect event to bolster their budding partner ecosystem, and we’re seeing this type of cross-collaboration emerge prominently across many different industries.

In commerce, we see the trend taking hold at the highest levels (Walgreens and Krogers recently partnered on a sales pilot) and throughout the online landscape, especially in B2B. As Salesforce has noted, “Channel partners boost sales, decrease time to market, and provide access to competitive markets.”

When your partners win, you win, which means you’re vested in their success and vice versa. So, in what ways can a sales team assist its channel partners, especially those that might be working with leaner budgets and less marketing support?

Vanessa Baker tackled this topic in a blog post at Tribal Impact this week entitled How Vendors Can Help Channel Partners Embrace Digital Selling.

Proven Ways to Drive Digital Selling Success

As the Tribal Impact’s Head of Channel Social Advocacy Programs, Baker is obviously adamant about leveraging social media for inbound sales (as are we!). She lists nine tips for making the case and encouraging partners to embrace this proven digital strategy. We’ll call out a few of her recommendations below and share our own thoughts on why each matters.

Focus marketing budget on long-term inbound tactics

There’s a tendency, within smaller up-and-coming businesses especially, to emphasize short-burst marketing tactics aimed at producing sales spikes. But the long-term ROI on these efforts isn’t always there. Make sure marketing strategy matches up with the evolution from sales funnel to sales ecosystem. Digital sellers will feel the positive impact of quality brand-building over time.

Accurately measure and share the benefits of sales/marketing alignment

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous item. The partnership between sales and marketing is critical to a cohesive and effective business development plan. When managers rely on the right bottom-line metrics and make them visible, the case for collaboration becomes clear.

Create thought leadership content

While this typically falls in the realm of marketing, that doesn’t mean sales shouldn’t be involved. As Baker writes, “No one is expecting all sales reps to be able to find the time or have the relevant skills to write blogs, but they do have the direct contact with customers and know which issues/pain points resonate and how to help. Support them with the resources to facilitate turning these key insights into blogs!”

Turn employees into advocates

At LinkedIn, we’ve found that click-through rates are twice as high for content shared by employees compared to content shared by a company. Those are the kinds of stats that will compel an organization to evangelize the merits of employee advocacy, which tends to create plenty of new sales opportunities.

Train reps on Sales Navigator

Channel partner reps often have Sales Navigator licenses, but are they getting the most out of this platform? Time and time again, we’ve found that user training and active guidance are crucial factors in driving superior results with LinkedIn’s flagship product for sellers. Consider pointing your partners to our Sales Navigator Hub page, which includes plenty of webinars, guides, and tip sheets.

Package up personalized PointDrive presentations

“We've seen first-hand how effective these campaigns can be,” says Baker. PointDrive, a feature in Sales Navigator, helps sales pros scalably personalize their content-sharing with prospects and customers. If your channel partners are still sending out sales collateral in the form of clunky email attachments, encourage them to give PointDrive a try.

Spruce up social media accounts

One of the toughest changes in mentality for traditional sellers acclimating to this new era is recognizing the importance of personal social media accounts. As the generation of digital natives increasingly permeates the workforce, buyers become more naturally predisposed to research a new contact on public-facing social networks. Does each partner sales rep’s LinkedIn profile paint them as an approachable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable authority in their niche?

Getting on the same page with your channel partners and embracing the principles of digital selling helps everyone win. Baker offered up many of her own insights so we recommend giving the original blog post a read.

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