When Building Partner Skills Sets, Don’t Short-change Marketing

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by Beth Vanni, Vice President

The last two years of economic downturn has seen vendors hard-pressed to allocate their increasingly limited channel marketing resources across diverse types of partner support. Some activities, such as marketing tools and support have taken a back seat to more skills-related investments including online training and technical certifications which, vendors assumed, would ensure a greater return on investment for both them and their partners.

While partner training is mission-critical to building a long-term foundation for success, it is equally important to ensure that partners are actively marketing their hard-won skills and clearly differentiating themselves in the market. Vendors who have pulled marketing tools from their partner program and support mix have likely ended up with lackluster partner performance in the areas of active prospecting.

With vendors recognizing that they cannot drive partner knowledge without the support needed to translate those new skill sets into meaningful customer engagements, it is not surprising that marketing tools are once again appearing back into vendors’ top three enablement priorities for 2011.

Vendors intend to continue the critical work of developing the skills sets of their channel marketing partners, but they are realizing that it’s also essential to assist their partners in crafting customer-facing communications that emphasize the value of their products and solutions. In fact, we are already seeing vendors offering new tools and templates, as well as access to outsourced agencies who are being included in partner programs to assist partners with marketing execution.

Building a more diverse, knowledgeable partner program must go hand-in-hand with a sound plan to assist those partners in effectively communicating their knowledge to the end user. The vendor community is anxious to see their partners reinvest in marketing to aggressively drive top-line revenue through active promotion of their skills and services offerings. Deal registration incentives alone will not help the vendors meet their revenue growth targets through the channel.

Download a copy of Amazon Consulting’s 2011 Annual Partner Study which includes data from 100 unique vendors.

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