Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Partner Management - using Marketing Automation to Managing the Unmanaged

In the channel, why do we classify partner groups using names of precious metal and then ignore our less precious?  Are we missing that diamond in the rough?  How can we groom the next shining star if an entire group of partners isn’t receiving personalized attention?
Most companies end up ignoring the bottommost partner tiers because the time and cost of supporting those tiers using partner managers is prohibitively expensive.  Still, other companies expend a lot of effort and hard dollars creating predictive models to determine the next growth partner.
For a company wishing to grow, ignoring your lower tier partners isn’t an option, and predictive models can’t model one of the most important elements of a successful partnership - level of interest and engagement.
As the online world continues to evolve, and sources like social media and interactive websites feed into our need for immediate gratification, decision-makers at your unmanaged companies will engage with a real-time response to their needs. These three tips will help you begin your journey to successfully managing the unmanaged accounts.
 

1 – Know what partners need, and when.

You can treat all partners as precious using the same marketing automation processes and tools used for end customer lead nurturing.  By scoring partner activity, you can determine both the level of interest and specifically understand what partners are interested in.  Did Bob, a lower-level partner, just spend 30 minutes looking at content about your newest offering and this is the third time he has expressed interest in your offerings in the past several weeks? That means he has a need.  But is he worth calling? This question leads me to part two – Act fast and be relevant.
 

2 – Act fast and be relevant.

So, now that you know that Bob is interested and what he is interested in – should you call him?  Before you do, let’s review Bob.
Is Bob interested in your services? Yes.
Does Bob have a lead score that represents an increasing level of interest? Yes.
After a review of CRM data, does Bob fit the criteria of an emerging partner? Yes.
Great! Now Bob, who was earlier classified as a lower tiered partner not worth supporting, has moved up the ranks and your relationship with a partner that was once ignored, is developing.
 

3 – Stay cost-effective.

Many companies think that in order to manage accounts, you need to ratio channel account managers to partners at a specific ratio, usually no more than 100 partners to 1 channel account manager.  This can, and always has been, a daunting task for companies with a large number of partners.
However, using tried and true end user lead nurturing techniques can enable channel account managers to nurture more partner accounts with greater success, and impact ROI in a positive way. With rapid response channel account managers, you only need a handful of well-trained account managers to get the job done.

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