Article | March 10, 2022
In the B2B domain, relationship management plays a key role in business growth. As compared to B2C, B2B relationship management is complex. B2B sales cycles are longer, business is catered to key accounts, which are retained through regular contact, and there are multiple decision-makers who make purchase decisions.
Seamless co-operation can happen only when a powerful tool like cloud-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software collects crucial data and assists the management strategy.
74% of respondents say that CRM solutions give them better access to customer data, which is crucial to offering personalized services to accounts. (Source: Resco)
What is a B2B CRM Strategy?
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy helps improve the conversion rate, retain customers better, and capture more leads. A B2B CRM strategy is used to sell services or products to accounts and has complex sales processes, fewer leads, and a longer sales cycle as opposed to B2C’s simple sales processes, more leads, and shorter sales cycle.
A customer relationship strategy includes listing methods to oversee an influx in profits and an increase in sales. It helps in detecting shortcomings in your B2B CRM process and comes up with advanced solutions using critical data to enhance your management.
To execute this strategy, you should choose an efficient cloud-based CRM software that is securely hosted on the servers of your CRM provider. You can access it over the internet from anywhere. With the help of good CRM software, you can manage your contacts, gain insights into your customers, understand and fulfill their needs at every stage of the sales cycle.
Types of CRM Strategies for Business
There are three types of CRM strategies for businesses. You can choose an appropriate strategy based on your business goals and objectives.
This type of strategy focuses on breaking the silos between the sales, marketing, and customer service teams. These teams may not be in the same geographical location, use different channels to connect with the customer, and have different skills and specialities. Such differences make it hard for these teams to come together and work towards the same goal - an outstanding customer experience. Sharing information between these teams throughout the customer journey is vital for an optimum customer experience.
Businesses use operational CRM for streamlining customer relationships using tools to understand and handle complete customer journeys, even those with multiple touch points. It also supports marketing automation, service and sales automation so that employees don’t have to manually carry out all the campaigns. Instead, they can allot more time to carry out activities that need human interaction.
New B2B marketing strategies include digital tools and platforms. A big chunk of customer data that is gathered through these tools and other channels may not be used accurately without a feature-rich platform that analyzes customer behavior. Through analytical CRM, you can get a detailed analysis of the data. It helps with customer retention and solving customers’ problems swiftly.
Role of CRM in Business Strategy
The main role of CRM is to enable teams that handle customers with relevant customer data so that they can offer an optimum customer experience (CX). So, a CRM strategy example would be a business strategy that focuses on customer satisfaction.
“The C-suite plays a fundamental role in giving appropriate weight to CRM across the business, thereby ensuring that it is executed appropriately across all layers of the business and all the way down to the customer.”
- Anders Lindholm, Managing Partner of Boyden Italy.
CRM helps C-level executives to:
Understand their customers better
Retain their customers with impressive CX
Bring in new customers
Increase their revenue
Manage customers economically
Using CRM in business is also necessary if you want to achieve business growth through consumer-centric ideas.
Let us take a look at the role of CRM in business strategy in detail:
Provides Reliable Reports
Businesses procure actionable customer data from social media, Google Analytics, apps, and business software. However, it becomes useless if it is unorganized. CRM organizes this data and collates it for better understanding. It can also categorize the customers into leads, sales, or opportunities. AI-based marketing automation is also possible using CRM.
Allows Drip Campaigning
Implementing drip campaigns to target a specific audience cluster with an interest in a niche product is easy because of the dynamic content that CRM provides. These drip campaigns are triggered by specific actions and send out emails to get in touch with the audience. They can be used to convert leads throughout the sales funnel.
Through the data it collects, CRM provides insight into the issues and needs of the customers. This makes it easier for a customer service team to tackle issues that customers face. They don’t have to spend time or energy digging for information because they have all the data they need on their CRM dashboards. A quicker resolution time and higher customer satisfaction translate to an improved bottom line.
Cross-department Data Accessibility
CRM data can be accessed across departments that may not necessarily be in the same location. This kind of accessibility makes it easier for all departments to optimize their processes.
Provides Business Insights
Companies easily track business intelligence metrics that help them understand which campaigns are generating leads and how much time it takes to follow up with leads. They can also gauge salesperson performance, business KPIs (closed cases, average call time, average user rating), customer sales, and product sales, up-selling and cross-selling data.
Aligns Core Teams
All the teams that come into contact with customers are used to working in silos. That doesn't mean that CRM data won't help them. It can show them how to focus their goals and efforts on getting, nurturing, and converting leads, as well as giving customers a great experience.
Creating an Effective CRM Strategy
To create an effective CRM strategy, follow these steps:
Identify your position in the market
Know your product or service
Define goals and vision
Determine the ICP and target audience
Map the customer’s journey
Create a 360° CX experience
Choose a good CRM software
Sync everything with your CRM software
Measure the performance of your strategy using KPIs
British Airways’ Volume Requests Increased after Using CRM
British Airways set a great example of a CRM strategy using Teradata CRM. Their volume requests increased by 150%. They automated campaigns and customer communications for their integrated warehouse through Teradata and saw amazing results.
The role of CRM is crucial in your business strategy. Adopting the best CRM strategy can bring you outstanding results and help you focus on your customers closely.
Which companies offer CRM software solutions?
Companies like Salesforce, Oracle, Zendesk, Microsoft, Hubspot, and Agile offer CRM software solutions.
How can a CRM strategy help you scale your business?
CRM can help you offer an enhanced customer experience, analyze customer behavior, bring your core performance teams together, and automate your marketing campaigns.
How can you measure the success of your CRM strategy?
Upsell rate, close rate, average value of deals, duration of sales cycle, and length of pipeline stages are some of the important KPIs to measure the success of your CRM strategy.
Article | March 10, 2022
According to Forrester, 75% of the world’s commerce uses channel sales to generate revenue. What does this mean? Instead of preferring direct channel sales, where there is no intermediary, companies, or ‘vendors’ are trusting their partners to sell for them. Channel partner sales contribute to revenue and sales growth, adding to the company’s headcount and associated expenses. They are also enriching the customer experience.
In a LinkedIn Live, Kori O'Brien, SVP Alliances & Channels at Salesforce, talked about how partner sales contribute to a great customer experience.
“I really think it’s about segmenting the market and realizing how you get your best scale. And at the end of the day, it’s about what is going to make your customers more successful. You want them to have access to and experience of engaging with your product and brand successfully. I think if you can make sure that the partners you bring on board hit the profile you want and you segment your market effectively for productivity, I think there is a healthy balance between direct and indirect sales.”
Are you planning on expanding into new markets, enhancing your customer experience, or creating a channel to scale your growth efficiently? If you are, then you must dive deep into channel partner sales, understand how to face the challenges they present, and make the most of a channel sales strategy.
Understanding Channel Partner Sales
One of the many ways to scale a business is to hire salespeople. However, hiring, training, and retaining salespeople is expensive and can even deplete the resources you can use to grow your business. Even with the best tools on the market, sales reps face limitations. A game-changing idea would be to set up a channel sales strategy.
In a channel partner sales strategy, you use partners, including but not limited to affiliate partners, value-added partners, and resellers. Anybody who doesn’t work for you directly but sells your product is a channel partner.
Examples of Channel Partner Sales
Alliances: Partners that sell complementary products
Affiliates: Websites that send customers to your site for a paid commission
Dealers: Intermediaries between customers and manufacturers
Distributors: Buyers who directly buy from you but market and sell to customers in their region
Franchisees: Use your brand identity and business model to sell products and services
Resellers or VARs: Purchase products to resell them, often adding features to enhance them
Brokers and Agents: Arrange purchases in exchange for a pre-set commission
Retailers: Sell products to consumers in small quantities
Channel Partner Sales: Benefits, Challenges & Solutions
Let us look at some benefits that channel partner sales can offer:
Brand Awareness and Trust
A well-known channel partner can help you create brand awareness and credibility in the market.
Efficiency and Cost-effectiveness
Channel partners can bring more revenue at a fraction of the cost of hiring new sales reps.
Experiment with new products, packages, customers, and marketing campaigns at low risk.
Vendors help with customer success by giving service and support to customers on your behalf.
So far, channel partner sales look promising for business growth, right? However, your channel partner’s sales ride may not be a smooth-sailing one. Let us look at some challenges this model presents and how you can tackle them without burning yourself out.
Lack of Control
Your partners represent your brand when they sell your product to end customers. However, you cannot control their interactions with customers. The only way to ensure that your partners give their best to achieve customer success is to provide an excellent partner experience for them. If you nurture your partnerships, give them time and effort, it will prompt your partners to offer the same support and effort for you.
When you use a combination of direct sales and partner channel sales, unexpected conflicts can arise between you and your partners. Your partners may feel like they are competing with your salespeople. To avoid such conflicts, proactively set guidelines around products you want to sell through your channel partners and those you wish to sell directly through your team.
Zeroing-in on the Best Technology
Finalizing a tech platform that best suits your partnership needs can be challenging because of the options available in the market, your partners’ expectations, budget constraints, and business goals. In this case, you can identify the areas that need special attention and leverage the tech resources you have to expand your functionality over time instead of making drastic changes immediately.
Partners’ Changing Expectations
Over time, your successful channel partners may ask you for better margins. It may be hard not to entertain such expectations if their numbers are good. Ensure you know the pricing structures you are comfortable working with from the get-go. Decide how frequently you need to revisit these structures. To minimize risk, recruit new partners instead of relying on a select few.
Poor Performance of Partners
Some of your partners may not live up to your expectations. Assessing metrics to know which ones are consistently underperforming is a smart way to figure out your next steps in time. Eliminate the partners who aren’t doing much for your sales channel. To improve results, you can also train your partners’ sales team. You may have to shell out for this solution, but it can be a good investment over time if appropriately executed.
5 Tips to Boost Your Channel Sales Strategy
Here are five tips you can use to boost your channel sales strategy:
Set Ground Rules and Expectations
Definable sales expectations, which can be measured with KPIs, are crucial for the success of a channel sales strategy. Your partners should clearly understand your expected close rate or account growth expectations beforehand. In turn, you should also make sure that all your channel partners chase the goals they have set for themselves. Create checkpoints in your partnership journey to make sure everything is in order. Support your partners at every step and reward their good performances.
Engage a Channel Partnership Management Platform
Use the best partner relationship management (PRM) software in the market to track your partners’ performance. Robust PRM software may help you position your channel strategy better and drive your sales. Resources like webinars, training materials, and sales dashboards will keep your partners on their toes. Your PRM software should have the following features:
Maintain an Open Communication Channel
You should be in touch with your partners frequently. If the partners are not updated with the latest news surrounding your offerings and any other strategic announcements, they will not be able to benefit from them. You may also not hear much from them, missing out on issues that may fester if left unattended. Sending periodic emails, creating social media groups, conducting meetings, and participating in webinars can help you maintain an open communication channel with your partners.
Stress on Training and Reinforcement
Hone the skills of your channel partner managers and partner sales managers to help them perform optimally. By training your partner sales assets in marketing and selling your products, you can reinforce your brand knowledge and give them motivation to confidently sell your products. Ensure that you plan and execute good training programs for your channel partner managers, take feedback, and gather information on their performance to optimize efficiency.
Grab a Bigger Mindshare for Your Product
Mindshare is the limited time and resources your channel partner spends on marketing and selling your product. Apart from you, it is highly likely that your partner sells products for other companies. Therefore, your goal should be to get more considerable mindshare for your product. Engage your partners with content, incentives, referral programs, and more so that they remain committed to investing more time and resources in selling your products.
Allbound PRM Helped Garland Technology Get a 33% Increase in Their Partner Referral Revenue
Garland Technology, a network product and solutions enterprise, used Allbound’s PRM tool for channel sales management. With the help of the PRM tool, they automated training, marketing, and deal registrations and saw a 33% increase in their partner referral revenue. Their partner onboarding and training numbers also improved significantly.
With the help of these five tips, you can enhance your channel sales management. An effective channel sales strategy can increase your sales revenue, motivate you to scale your business in different markets and strengthen your channel partnership program.
What are some examples of channel sales partners?
Some examples of channel sales partners are distributors, consultants, alliances, affiliates, resellers, franchisees, and dealers.
How can you avoid conflicts with your channel sales partners?
To avoid conflicts with your channel partners, set clear boundaries on customer targeting, define the products you are going to sell indirectly, and offer lucrative incentives to partners. Also, keep an open communication channel, and decide on the customer segments that your partners shouldn’t target.
What are some of the popular PRM tools?
Some popular PRM tools are PartnerStack, Impact Partnership Cloud, Salesforce PRM, Allbound PRM, and Impartner PRM.
Article | March 8, 2022
“It is within everyone’s grasp to be a CEO.”
– Martha Stewart, Founder, CEO, Martha Stewart Living OmniMedia
From the 1970s to the present day, women haven’t stopped dreaming about and chasing the goal of successful entrepreneurship, building healthy communities, and uplifting other women in their pursuit of excellence.
Women who are not afraid to take on challenges, vow to break stereotypes, have an exemplary sense of duty, and have the ambition to reach new heights, make femininity a force to be reckoned with.
On International Women’s Day 2022, we are celebrating inspiring women who have made a difference in their industry. Take a minute to read through the conversations we’ve had with them.
Know Your Most Powerful Asset
“Your most powerful audience is your employees. They are your greatest point of social proof.”- Kate Bradley Chernis, Founder and CEO at Lately
What You Should Focus On
“Rather than focusing on strategy, planning and creativity, many marketers instead spend the majority of their time cleaning and analyzing data.” – Yogeeta Chainani, Co-Founder and CPO at Swaarm
There Is No End to Learning
“Be a sponge and listen as much as you can. Go to those optional meetings. The more you learn and are exposed to early on, the better.”- Elizabeth Irvine, VP of Marketing at MarketMuse
Time Management Is the Key to Success
“Plenty of people never thought they would end up where they did, but almost all of them had discipline, rigor, and a deep learning mentality. Be flexible with your goals but really clear on how you spend your day/week/life.” – Kady S, SVP Global Head of Marketing at Klaviyo
Carve Your Niche
“If you have a topic you know no one else is talking about and that’s important to your clients, put your focus there.” - Amanda Sexton, Founder at FocusWorks Marketing
Article | February 28, 2022
Tracey Noonan and Danielle Vilagie started Wicked Good Cupcakes after taking a cake-decorating class together and enjoying it immensely. Wicked Good Cupcakes wanted to serve customers out of town. They came up with the ‘portable cupcake in a jar’ concept to safely ship their cupcakes. They hired C Squared Social, a digital agency, to run their online campaigns so they could generate new leads and increase their reach.
C Squared, in turn, partnered with Facebook Business Partner Zapier. Zapier used Facebook’s innovative lead ad functions to stitch together CRM, email marketing, and team messaging tools. This was done to capture every opportunity for Wicked Good Cupcakes.
Through its channel partner Zapier, Facebook facilitated an end customer with a 94% lower average cost per lead, a 24% contact response rate from leads, and a 48x increase in leads in just 3.5 months from the launch of the campaign. This is the power of channel partnership.
But how did Zapier know what features from Facebook’s marketing offerings it could use to deliver amazing results for Wicked Good Cupcakes? It’s because Facebook has vetted Zapier to advertise, sell, and engage end customers with Facebook’s offerings. Facebook did this by using effective to-partner marketing.
Let us now explore channel partner marketing in detail.
What is Channel Partner Marketing?
Channel partners are intermediaries between your product and the end customer. Channel partner marketing uses methods to promote products or services to channel partners or to end customers through channel partners. This kind of marketing considers the manufacturer’s expectations, requirements, and goals, channel partners, and their audiences.
In a recent interview with Media 7, Sam O’Brien, CMO at Affise, talked about partner marketing.
Partner market has huge growth at the moment. It's really taken off, and still, it seems quite complex to people. We're giving companies a faster way to start Partner Marketing. Find the partners you want to work with, or the publishers, or creators, or affiliates, to promote your business.”
Sam O’Brien, CMO at Affise
If you use an effective partner marketing strategy, you want to make sure that everyone involved in a channel partnership is happy.
Why Should Channel Partner Marketing be a Priority?
54% of companies say partnerships drive more than 20% of total company revenue. (Source: Partnerize). To drive revenue, marketing is important. Here are some of the reasons why channel partners should make channel partner marketing a priority:
The way customers or businesses zero-in on a product or service has changed. When it comes to technology products or other professional services, audiences rely on finding the best alternative online.
This intensifies the competition for channel partners. They need to beat regional, national, non-traditional, online, and local competitors to land a sale.
Marketing technology has also evolved dramatically. It is a dynamic mix of thought leadership, search authority, and expert lead generation to create measurable results.
Channel partners need to focus on marketing and invest effort, resources, and time to keep up with the changing trends, or fall short in the market.
Benefits of an Effective Channel Marketing Strategy
Let us look at what an effective channel marketing strategy can do for your business:
Gain access to your partners’ audiences.
Channel partner marketing is affordable as compared to other forms of marketing.
Present value-added offerings (your partner’s) to your existing audience.
Access a bigger team that works for your success.
Use the unique resources that your partners have.
Increase trust in your brand by collaborating with the right partners.
Enhance your distribution channels with the help of your partners.
Look into These Factors Before Creating a Channel Marketing Strategy
A good channel partnership can help you scale your business. To enhance the results of your partnership, creating an effective channel marketing strategy is crucial. Here are things you should take into consideration before you create a strategy:
Solid C-Suite Commitment
Help your channel partners grow their businesses! There is no better way to form long-lasting partnerships. To make this happen, you need to invest your time in getting C-Suite buy-in in advance so that you can secure their commitment and resources to develop and implement your partner marketing strategy.
Welcome your partners to your channel program with proactive communication and engagement. Creating a welcome kit as your first touchpoint could be a great idea. The contents of this kit can be based on the solutions you provide and your business model. Be a no-hassle channel partner.
Identify Pain Points
For existing partners, identify their pain points like low partner engagement, abandoned campaigns, unutilized market development fund (MDF), ineffective campaigns, and metric measurement challenges. Other difficulties may arise, such as communication, effective lead scoring, and qualifying them. Your partner marketing strategy should offer solutions to these problems.
Focus on Your Content
Amplify your brand with high-quality content. Generate interest and maintain mindshare using content marketing pieces like blogs, flyers, data sheets, case studies, e-books, whitepapers, videos, webinars and more. Automate your social and digital campaigns using content platforms, and create a content factory that can be managed using channel marketing management software. Help partners by providing them with marketing agency assistance so they can use good content to market your products.
Partner Marketing Strategy: 7 Crucial Channel Marketing Strategy Best Practices
Now that we have established what goes into a partner marketing plan, let us look at seven best practices that can make your channel marketing strategy successful:
Align Marketing and Channel Objectives
You can define the success of your partnership using factors like active, new, engaged partners, and channel revenue. They should be the foundation of your partner marketing plan. This way, you can align your marketing and channel goals and invest in your partnership resources better. Tracking the dollars invested in marketing and enhancing partner production gives an insight into where to invest. When there are partnerships that go across countries, working together well with the local channel manager and big business sellers is the key to success and output.
Decide Baselines & Metrics
For your channel marketing campaign, establish appropriate baselines and chase improvements in relative performance because campaign-level ROI measurements can be challenging. Metrics like partner adoption of created assets and content, and partner metrics in lead generation can be tracked using PRM tools. Email metrics and leads generated are other metrics that can help you measure the success of your partner marketing plan. The ultimate metric should be the end-user satisfaction rate because it directly translates to a low churn rate.
Become a Revenue Marketer
Invest your time in customizing and spinning your high-quality, professional-level content assets for your sales organization and channel partners. This can help you tap into the potential ROI of each of your content pieces. Over time, it can add up significantly to your marketing performance. Impactful content is greatly enhanced by channel marketing. If you use it to target partners, you can gain partner mind share and create revenue opportunities that you might have otherwise missed. You can pair this type of soft marketing with the hard marketing that the C-Suite prefers.
Map Partner Performance
Ensure that you map individual partner performance in your assessments to get insights into what is working in your partner program and which partner strengths you can bank on and focus. Check how many deals are closing through the channel, and how many new opportunities are coming through your partners. If a partner isn’t doing much for the program, that partner is probably draining your resources. Take notice of your new partners’ performance in your channel marketing campaign over a set period to see what they are doing for you and the partner revenue.
Keep Your ‘To’ and ‘Through’ Sorted
When you look at your to-partners’ side, you aim to drive leads, and market qualified leads from a marketing and sales angle. You are also considering the cost per lead, what the partner did convert or lose, and why the partner came to you or why they didn’t. As for the through angle, your only point of analysis is the customer engagement and the satisfaction the partner has achieved through the partnership. Ensure you know why some partners are more successful than others, how many campaigns run through your platform, and how many of your partners are active on your PRM platform. Once you know what you need to look at from both angles, you are sorted and can run your marketing strategy effectively.
Embed Engagement into Your Program
Engagement is key to any partner alliance. Embedding engagement through to-partner marketing can enhance the channel partnership program. You need to plan, train, and gather feedback on your ‘to’ and ‘through’ channel marketing tactics. Some ways to embed engagement into the channel partnership programs are:
Creating bundled marketing campaigns with product training to improve lead follow-up
Co-partner marketing to drive thought leadership
Transparent to-partner communications
Partner advisory councils that focus on sales and marketing
Quarterly feedback surveys to enhance partner marketing processes
Executive sponsorship for key partners.
Constantly Enhance Your Strategy
Seek improvement in your channel marketing strategy by referring to your baselines and other KPIs. Measuring the baseline engagements will not only help you improve your strategy but it will also shed light on potential issues that may impede progress and growth. Keep an eye on what the partner revenue numbers look like, what kind of demand generation content they are leveraging, the webinars or events they are attending, and if they are mentioning you on their social media. Any big dips in numbers or engagement will help you redirect your efforts to what is causing the sudden shift.
Wrapping It Up
A channel partnership is a give and get kind of association. To get the most out of it, you need to focus on marketing strategies that target your partners and your end customers. Enhance your partnership by planning, reaffirming partnership goals, revamping your marketing strategy from time to time, and earning partner mindshare.
What is channel marketing?
Channel marketing includes to-channel marketing and through-channel marketing. To-channel marketing means recruiting and engaging sales partners, distributors, and their networks. Through-channel marketing means you market your products and services to end customers through your sales channel.
What factors should you consider before creating a partner marketing strategy?
Consider factors like abandoned campaigns, under-utilized MDF, ineffective campaigns, low partner engagement, and lack of visibility, measurement issues, lead qualifying and scoring, effective communication with end customers, and delivering professional marketing information to end customers.
How can you improve your channel marketing strategy?
Establish baselines to measure the success, look at partner revenue, demand generation content downloads, and partner social media mentions and find out the areas that need your attention. Revamp your strategy based on these insights.