Menu
INSIGHT: Why the channel Is more than a sales channel

INSIGHT: Why the channel Is more than a sales channel

For the past 30 years, most B2B channel professionals have thought of their channel as a sales channel.

For the past 30 years, most B2B channel professionals have thought of their channel as a sales channel.

Indeed, in the “good old days,” the standard operating procedure equated to the B2B manufacturer/vendor doing the marketing, the channel partner the selling.

But times have changed. The five-person “box-pusher” channel partner model of the past has, for the most part, gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Today’s successful channel companies are diverse, vibrant business engines, firing on many cylinders, including innovative value-added services, managed services, business consulting, eCommerce, billing aggregation, and marketing.

Today’s channel is much more than a sales channel; it’s a marketing, sales, delivery, and support channel.

The majority of channel partners now employ their own professional marketers and marketing programs - which can be a good thing or a bad thing.

Left unchecked, channel partners’ marketing efforts can ignore, dilute, confuse, or (worse!) damage a tech vendor’s brand.

Leveraged, channel partners’ relatively newfound marketing prowess represents a powerful amplifier for tech vendors to extend their marketing reach.

At Cisco’s Marketing Velocity event this spring, many Cisco channel partners evidenced a marketing aptitude for digital customer engagement that rivals that of many tech vendors.

The application and value realisation of through-channel marketing are gaining steam.

Forrester defines through-channel marketing as: the practice of engaging channel partners to extend and amplify a firm’s marketing campaigns and activities.

We estimate that less than 5 per cent of B2B manufacturers/vendors have active through-channel marketing programs.

As with any steam-gathering trend, there is no shortage of supporting technology solutions.

We are tracking 26 through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) software vendors.

TCMA solutions enable a tech vendor to design and govern marketing assets and campaigns, to which channel partners subscribe and execute.

One of the ironies of the TCMA space is that, as a group, the TCMA vendors’ solutions are superior to the enterprise marketing automation vendors’ solutions in terms of functionality, user experience, and integratability.

Indeed, many customers who utilise both enterprise marketing automation (for corporate marketing) and TCMA solutions have reported that their footprint utilisation of TCMA is expanding and that of their enterprise marketing automation shrinking.

And, as with any steam-gathering trend, through-channel marketing program implementation is not without its perils.

Tech vendor channel pros should think about channel programs in three supporting dimensions: (1) technology (2) resources, and (3) incentivisation (the TRIfecta of channel program success).

Different channel partners will need or take advantage of each of these to different degrees.

For example, “power marketers” will leverage the full extent of the capabilities and marketing vehicles provided by their B2B manufacturer/vendor to them, and will need little incentivisation to do so.

On the other hand, “neophytes” - lacking in understanding of the value of marketing and in resources - will need agency-like support and MDF/co-op funds to kickstart their participation.

Still, we anticipate the implementation of through-channel marketing programs and capabilities to continue to mushroom, fuelling double-digit annual growth of TCMA technology through the next two years.

And for tech vendors’ view and enablement program support of their channel partners to encompass and embrace partners’ marketing, sales, delivery, and support value.

By Tim Harmon - Research Analyst, Forrester Research

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Forrester Research

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments