Nurturing Your Channel Prospects
I’ve spent a significant amount of my career involved in creating channel programs, recruiting channel partners, and helping channel partners market and sell more effectively. As I’ve been writing a series of posts on lead nurturing it struck me how well this concept would work when recruiting channel partners.
When I was on the front lines doing the recruiting, I never got much help from the marketing department. Yes, we got plenty of product content that we could share with our prospective resellers. We PowerPointed them to death with our latest product portfolios. But, as someone who has talked with literally hundreds of businesses selling sofware I can tell you that product wasn’t usually the number one concern of my prospective business partners.
Yes, they want a good product, but more important to anyone who is trying to start or grow a business reselling, implementing or consulting on software or hardware, is the relationship they have with their vendor.
They want to know things like:
• What marketing materials will you provide to me?
• Who owns the customer? (Anyone involved in the software industry will immediately understand the ramifications of this one!)
• How do you handle my support calls?
• What kinds of training opportunities will your provide to me?
• Who will be my main contacts at your organization and how will I interact with them?
• And on, and on, and on.
If all you are doing is staying in front of your reselling prospects with product information, then you are breaking the cardinal rule of lead nurturing. You have to stay in front of them with information that is most relevant to them. When someone is thinking about betting their business on a relationship with you, they want to know about a lot more than just your products.
If you are serious about channel recruitment, why not build a separate lead nurturing track for your prospective channel partners? Examples of good content include:
• A blog on the latest happenings in your industry. This is different from a technical blog that focuses on product. I wrote a post recently called Save time (and make more sales) with blogging where I suggested that you take your most frequently asked questions and blog about them. This would work really well for a prospective channel partner blog.
• A blog that shares ideas on how to market and sell more effectively. If you are concerned about sharing great ideas with resellers that are just going to use it to sell your competitors' products more effectively, then make it a “members only” blog.
• White papers that focuses on business building techniques.
• Free webinars that do the same.
Way back in the dark ages when I started my career, I can remember the reps that came into the computer store I worked in. (OK, I know it wasn’t the dark ages if PCs were around.) The only ones that we made any time for were the ones that had something useful to offer besides product info. The more things change, the more they stay the same. These businesses still look to partner with companies that have more to offer than just a great product.