From gamification to Partner Portals that give dating apps a run for their money when it comes to making connections, Impartner crystalizes trends that will impact the channel for 2016
SILICON SLOPES, Utah, Dec. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- With nearly 20 years' experience helping top corporations bring their channel programs to life, and with more than a million partner users worldwide, SaaS Partner Relationship Management (PRM) technology leader Impartner today announced its top predictions that will influence channel chiefs in 2016.
"If there were ever a time for channel chiefs to buckle in, all indications are that 2016 is the year," said Dave R Taylor, chief marketing officer of Impartner. "In nearly every interaction we have with analysts and customers, we feel a groundswell of momentum for selling through channels as more and more companies turn to indirect channels to expand their revenue given an increasing inability to find top sales talent, particularly in the IT space."
With Accenture estimating 80 percent of tech revenue already occurring through indirect channels (and increasing), Impartner has laid out its top seven predictions that will help channel chiefs succeed in 2016.
- Channel Executives Become Part of the Passion for Customer Experience
Realization has dawned that Customer Experience (CX) is imperative No. 1 in business – you simply have to get it right. Spending marketing dollars to drive customers to a poor customer experience only helps make sure they won't be back. Your partners know this as well as you do. If you don't give your partners a good experience, your competitors likely will. There are so many product choices and so many vendors for a reseller to choose from, partner loyalty simply won't cover for a bad CX.
Leading analyst firms point to customer experience as the new competitive battlefield, referring to CX as the most impactful area of innovation available to businesses today, and urging vendors to make customer experience and personalization priorities.
When you sell through the channel, the front door of your partners' experience is your Partner Portal, and you need to make sure they can find what they need (and like what they see) when they arrive. You only get one shot to get it right. Impartner predicts you'll get it right in 2016.
- CMOs (Finally) Get Their Way
It's no secret that there has been a tug-of-war going on between CMOs and CIOs in fast moving, digitally oriented companies. CMOs have a huge need for rapid fire, metric driven IT that can embrace new marketing technologies and turn them into revenue before they move into mainstream adoption and hence lose their potential competitive edge. CIOs, on the other hand, are driven by a contrasting need to run a reliable, secure network with minimal disruptions.
Gartner admonishes IT teams to be bi-modal and strike a balance between the two extremes. But Impartner predicts the tussle will end with CMOs victorious. By the end of 2016, headlines from analysts and editors will proclaim that the balance of power has shifted to CMOs, and that customer acquisition rules over stability within fast growing companies.
We predict CMOs will be comfortable with this. Modern marketing needs to move in gigahertz and IT tends to move in megahertz. Interestingly, however, CMOs would likely prefer having a strong IT colleague at their side, helping them quickly evaluate and "test drive" new digital marketing tools – and providing their insights on scalability, security, reliability, etc.
- Game on for Gamification:
Gamification has been nibbling at the edges of the business world for a few years and has leapt into the center of the customer experience when it comes to engagement and loyalty. You don't need jumping frogs to have a successful, interactive, engaging Partner Portal, but you do need to make sure the experience you create for your customers is relevant and contemporary, or they will question how well your products themselves are keeping pace.
Just as importantly, games are serious business when it comes to sales. Leading analyst firms like Forrester point to the programmatic use of gamification as key in accelerating targeted selling behaviors. Your company can't afford to let others lead when it comes to creating a compelling sales experience. No secret here – we predict you'll gamify your interactions with your partners.
- Director of Onboarding Becomes the Hottest Job in Channel Sales
Getting partners to "click to accept" your program Terms and Conditions is great and automating the process is key, but being able to ramp them quickly to productivity and profitability is more important to your success, and theirs. This is one problem a "tool" can't solve. It has more to do with your processes and procedures. Making sure your organization has a focused, internal champion who is 100 percent committed to bringing the best out of every partner and not just bringing on more partners is critical to moving the needle. As more companies turn to indirect channels to scale their revenue, the best partners will choose vendors that give them the best chance of being successful quickly. Companies who invest in processes, tools and the right people have the best chance of moving ahead. If you haven't already, you will hire an onboarding specialist in 2016 (or at least make sure it is in someone's job description.)
- Big Data Comes to the Channel
The tools and the techniques used to manage sales teams today are stellar: Sales Force Automation tools, Customer Relationship Management tools, pipeline management and prediction tools, and more. Companies sell solutions that will automatically scoop up your pipeline, feed it into a Learning Machine, and spit out a prediction of what revenue you'll actually realize from all the deals. And beyond tools, methodologies abound for running pipeline calls etc. All for the direct channel. But what about the 80 percent of your revenue that comes from the indirect channel?
In 2016, if you only use your Partner Portal to push information out to your partner channel, you're getting exactly 1/2 the value you should be. The portal represents terrific insight into how your individual partners, as well as your overall partner channel, are performing.
Impartner predicts that data analytics and data-driven business planning with your partners will land squarely on your "to do" list in 2016. And, by the way, you're going to love it. Data-driven quarterly business reviews are heavenly when you see the transformation it drives in your channel performance.
- Vendors Will Solve the Problem of "Bad Marketing at Scale."
In a recent webinar he co-presented with Impartner, Forrester Principal Analyst Tim Harmon pointed out how dramatically indirect channels have moved into the spotlight. As the importance of the indirect channel blossoms, vendors will begin to evaluate partners as much for their marketing chops as their customer list.
Even with the adoption of TCMA tools (Through Channel Marketing Automation) there is no guarantee the quality of marketing will scale with the reach of the marketing. Forrester refers to this as the problem of "'bad marketing at scale' when channel partners, left to their own devices, launch programs into the market without the firm's branding – or they dilute, confuse, or…damage the brand."
Impartner predicts 2016 will be the year in which vendors awaken to the fact that go-to-market strategies must include partners in order to adequately build the business, and that the capability of partners must increase along with the availability of marketing tools.
- Channel Partners Will "Swipe Right" for the Perfect Vendor
In the era of PRHD (Partner Relationship Hyperactivity Disorder), finding the right vendor can be a challenge. Channel partners need to know that investments they make in training, certification, and market building will generate a short term AND long term ROI for them. Partnering with the wrong vendor can literally wipe out a reseller.
Likewise, making it easy for companies to find a local partner that complements that company's vertical and company size helps make the strongest match that truly makes powerful connections and drives sales. We predict a company will formalize this vendor / partner dating process and will launch a database facilitating connections between the two groups.
Impartner delivers he industry's most advanced SaaS-based Partner Relationship Management solution, helping companies worldwide manage their partner relationships and accelerate revenue and profitability through indirect sales channels. Impartner PRM is the industry's only turnkey solution that can deploy a world-class Partner Portal in 30 days, using the company's highly engineered, three-step Velocity™ onboarding process. For more information on Impartner, which is based in Utah's tech hotbed, the Silicon Slopes, visit www.impartner.com, or in the US call +1801 576 8428, for EMEA general call +33 1 40 90 31 20, for London call +44 0 20 3283 4465 and in LATAM call +1 954 364 7883.