Sales and Marketing Alignment is often discussed as an integral part of a successful sales process, but how does this translate in to Channel Marketing?
Well the answer is…exactly the same but in a far more complex and multifaceted manner. Marketing through the channel brings in the additional element of partners, so not only do the vendor’s internal sales and marketing teams have to be aligned, but also the partner’s internal teams. But this then poses an additional problem…Vendor and Reseller alignment.
We have spoken in depth on the importance of SLAs and creating a solid criteria against which teams work and leads can be qualified, but when two separate businesses who are working towards the same goal, but speak different languages have to align their lead criteria, difficulties can arise with a common level of qualification.
Many Resellers like to use BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Time) to qualify leads. However, this doesn’t always sit well with Vendors as the Enterprise buying journey does not fit well in to the BANT mould. There are numerous stakeholders involved when it comes to buying an enterprise product and each touchpoint must be taken in to account, specifically when operating ABM programmes. However, when applying the BANT criteria many of the less senior stakeholders will not meet the ‘authority’ qualification and therefore do not appear as qualified leads, despite demonstrating interest. Obviously with ABM, the key is getting buy-in from multiple stakeholders, so BANT can often eliminate the bigger picture view and restrict progress.
Getting the message to the key stakeholder
The enterprise buying journey is complex and for a marketeer, hitting the right stakeholder is a challenge countered by the magnitude of the product you are trying to sell. Often the target audience is a senior stakeholder in a high turnover business and the magnitude of an enterprise product requires buy in from multiple departments. Often these departments operate in silos, all using elements of legacy systems. Therefore, the key person the partner marketeer is trying to target may not actually have oversight of all areas of their business. For example, the CTO may look after the budget for the company’s ERP system, but is unaware of the requirements of the finance, procurement or logistics department. So when selling a product which will automate administration and create a capital focus as opposed to a manual or people based focus, what is the messaging and who is the key person to target? And how do you ensure that each lead is qualified?
Well, creating more alignment between Vendors and Resellers is a must. And this is where an agency comes in. Thought a managed partner programme we have created a best practice workflow to handle the non-linear sales process. BANT becomes a thing of the past and a more fluid, holistic qualification process is applied. The approach is double pronged. Ordinarily, enterprise sales are targeted from the bottom up, but we implement a top down and back up approach. The first engagement (handled by us as the channel marketing agency) creates specific messaging directly to the C-suite, where information about vision, strategy and projection are required to build a picture about where they would like to take the business. Thought-leadership is key and there is a focus on the BDR team to create engagement. This information is then used for the second engagement to reach their senior management team. Again ISR, controls this outreach to gain an understanding of processes and their environment to build a business portfolio. This prospect could now be deemed an SQL as the reseller’s sale team re-engage with the C-suite to explain the challenges that have been uncovered through the outreach and schedule a demo or discuss pricing. But why is this a slightly different process? And how does it create alignment?
Creating visibility and Reportability
Well firstly, many resellers prioritise that second engagement and it is actually a difficult process ‘working up’ in enterprise sales. Reaching the C-Suite first with specific messaging concerning risk and future proofing, then following up with a wider database of targeted account contacts in senior management creates more resonation and facilitates the ‘account based’ approach.
Secondly, the process becomes more streamlined. By operating a fully managed partner programme, the agency involved is able to bridge the Vendor Reseller misalignment by implementing processes such as the revised sales workflow detailed above. Lead qualification becomes more intuitive than BANT and the agency expertise of marketing enterprise products through the channel can be leveraged! This then creates more visibility and reportability across the campaign and expectations can be managed and optimised.
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