Aligning Channel Sales and Marketing: A Practical 5-step Approach

Published On: November 14, 2016Categories: Aligning Channel Sales and Marketing, Buzz, Uncategorized

As technology industry consultants and employees, we often find that the link between sales and marketing represents both the biggest opportunity and the largest gap for significantly improving revenue growth. The intent of this blog series is to begin a dialogue aimed at closing that gap, while also laying out a practical 5-step approach to improving sales results.

Today’s blog post focuses on the essential initial step: Start with the Customer.

Step 1: Start with the Customer

It may seem obvious that starting with the customer is the right approach to aligning sales and marketing. However, based on our experience at Channel Impact in building successful go-to-market engines, this is not where most companies begin. My key data point—the ratio of our customer requests to perform competitive benchmarking vs. requests to explore customer insights—is about 25:1. If most executives are framing their channel strategy efforts by scanning the competition, then they are missing the vital information needed to build a sustainable go-to-market strategy that meets customer needs.

The starting point for collecting customer information is:

  1. Segment your customer base into logical groups—because your customer segments will likely have varying requirements
  2. Ask the right questions about how customers want to buy and be serviced in the future. From a practical perspective, looking out into the next 1-3 years is a good start.

Regarding the right types of customer information to collect, we suggest starting with the following:

  1. What are the customer segments? How big are they?
  2. What are the customer drivers for wanting to purchase the types of products/services/subscriptions that you plan to sell?
  3. Over the next three years, how many of the products/services/subscriptions in your portfolio do they plan to buy (whether from you or competitors)?
  4. What complementary items (i.e. things you don’t offer) does the customer typically buy at the same time as your product/service/subscriptions?
  5. Looking forward, who do customers want to buy the items in your portfolio from (i.e. from you directly, from a single indirect channel that sells the whole portfolio, from more than one type of indirect channel that sells components of the portfolio)?
  6. If there is a need for professional services surrounding your product/service/subscription portfolio, do customers prefer to get the product/service/subscription and professional services from the same company or not?

Two major benefits of using this approach:

  • Internally, at your company, the rationale for defending and gaining funding support for your go-to-market efforts is based on what the customer told you they need from you and your partners to meet their future expectations. Funding decisions are not based on your reaction to the competition.
  • Externally, to your partners, the requirements and benefits for working with you as a vendor are based on what you—and your partners—need to do to be successful in meeting the customer’s future needs.

It’s important to note that the above approach applies whether you are selling traditional hardware, software or cloud/subscriptions (and, for that matter, even if you are not in high-technology business).

Now that we have provided a framework to collect the necessary customer information, in the next blog posts in this series, covering steps 2 – 5, we will walk through an example of how to use this information to align sales and channel marketing to improve results.

Stay in the Know

Keep tabs on what’s happening in the channel and the impact it will have on the partner community by subscribing to Channel Impact communications.

Recent News

Search Buzz

Buzz Categories