As B2B organizations rush new products to market, failing to carefully plan a channel strategy is a common mistake. Often the biggest challenge with a new offering is forging a cross-functional alliance across the enterprise that includes channel interests earlier in the process. Unfortunately, many companies base their channel launch strategies on what works for the direct sales force — only to discover after the fact that they need to retool their plans post-launch to reflect partner-specific needs. Today, we’re seeing more channel teams seeking an invitation to the exclusive “product marketing table” where product-specific strategy and launch decisions are made.
It’s crucial to establish formal alignment during launch planning to ensure a channel strategy is developed and agreed upon. Specific channel conversations must take place at this critical stage. Channel marketing must provide insight on what makes partners tick rather than leaving product teams to base channel strategy on incorrect assumptions. This channel/product marketing alignment should pinpoint a new offering’s best routes to market (e.g. ISVs, resellers, system integrators, retailers, consultants) and ensure that the strategy delivers a well-formed readiness and go-to-market plan. SiriusDecisions has identified three areas of alignment that must be addressed to develop channel business propositions and ensure channel readiness:
Aligning channel and product marketing in the development of a product channel strategy bridges a significant gap that exists for some organizations. Addressing partner-specific needs is vital to create a clear and compelling business proposition for channel partners and answer the inevitable (often first) question from partners: “What’s in it for me?” Having a strong answer to this question will accelerate adoption and get more partners onboard faster with a supplier’s launch of a new product.
While getting a seat at the product marketing table may seem as elusive as the Holy Grail to some, maybe King Arthur had it right when he dreamed up the Round Table — a table built to ensure that all of his knights were positioned equally. For B2B organizations whose sales model includes a portion of their business going through partners, getting the channel a seat at the table is the ideal scenario for developing a new product channel strategy. Leading channel organizations have found that specifically addressing channel interests early in the product launch process, and establishing interlock between product marketing and channel marketing, can make the difference between success or failure when delivering products through the channel. Sounds like the Holy Grail to me!
Maria Chien is the Service Director of Channel Marketing Strategies at SiriusDecisions. She has 20 years of experience in partner/channel marketing, field marketing and solutions marketing, with hands-on expertise in partner and sales enablement, value proposition and sales tool development, and sales engagement. Follow Maria on Twitter at @mariachien.