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How OEMs can Facilitate Lucrative Channel Partnerships
The business landscape has changed. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are not selling as they used to. Instead of purely pursuing direct transactions, manufacturers are opting for a strategic approach that relies on indirect solution providers.
Recognizing businesses and customers today demand solutions and services to satisfy their diverse set of needs, manufacturers must leverage channel partners in order to adjust to this delicate consumer transformation.
However, in order to enable channel partners to sell OEM’s products effectively, synergy must exist between the two parties.
Establishing a successful business relationship relies on many factors, but none bigger than original equipment manufacturer’s obligation to give partners the tools and resources to drive indirect channel sales.
Following are practical tips and suggestions on how OEMs can facilitate lucrative channel partnerships:
Lead Distribution through Automation
Providing channel partners with qualified leads is one of the most impactful strategies for cultivating mind share and developing transparent business relationships in the indirect sales funnel.
This goes especially true for young channel partnerships.
However, qualified leads, when provided via automation, contribute to your overall value as an OEM even further. A centralized system that seamlessly curates leads removes the burden of manually standardizing data into a clear and concise, always accessible environment.
Additional tips when automating lead opportunities:
- Incentivize partners to receive compensation when lead(s) are successfully closed
- Monitor channel conflict closely when opportunities are delegated to a partner
- Give channel partners the flexibility to choose how they want to receive leads
- Make sure the parameters that surround lead distribution are evenly offered and objectively measured
- Disperse relevant sales information on each lead that supports lead qualification
It all comes Down to Inbound
Inbound marketing remains one of the most consistent, successful and cost-effective means of driving new revenue into the channel.
Articulated beautifully by digital marketing platform juggernaut, HubSpot, inbound marketing is “an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive.”
Inbound marketing is essentially the “secret sauce” as to why a customer would choose to purchase from one business over another.
At its best, inbound marketing is about sharing something valuable through a channel that simultaneously bolsters the reputation of a brand.
However, producing high-quality inbound marketing content is no easy feat.
That is why it is imperative original equipment manufacturers do the “dirty work” of creating the inbound material and providing it for channel partners than it is to help dealers create the content themselves.
In the past, channel partners would traditionally take control over OEM’s marketing efforts; after all, no one knows their direct consumer-base as partners do. Today, however, that is not the case. Original Equipment Manufacturers simply have too many channel distributors to tend to, which raises the risk of brand messaging and authority to become distorted, irrelevant and flawed.
Here are key steps for original equipment manufacturers to take when distributing inbound marketing content:
- If marketing experience is something your team struggles with, receive third-party consultation or collaborate with an agency
- Synchronize your channel marketing (i.e., partner portal) with an easy-to-use inbound marketing platform to seamlessly create, schedule, segment and distribute content
- Focus on delivering engaging, practical and unique content for partners’ value end-customer base
Focus on Simplicity to Accomplish Challenging Objectives
Your channel dealers, more likely than not, have several different OEMs they collaborate with on a daily basis. Unless your product overshadows all other vendors, their bandwidth to engage regularly is an unrealistic mindset that can potentially prove damaging to the partnership.
Channel partners are dealing with a plethora of resources; on top of (learning how to) utilize several different partner portals, opting-in to diverse sales and marketing program incentives, submitting reimbursement claims to numerous OEMs, pressure to close deals before a specific date, learning new product information and functionality, updating price sheets, etc., they’re also trying to generate revenue for themselves.
The best solution for staying ‘top-of-mind’ with partners is to simplify doing business with you. The more channel partners view your relationship as helpful, non-invasive and simple, the more they will want to continue doing business in the future.
Here are the keys toward developing simple relationships with channel partners in a multifaceted industry:
- Create objective sales and marketing incentive parameters that are easy to join and interpret
- Offer an easily navigable cloud-based partner portal platform for exchanging data with a simple interface that is optimized for mobile usage and diverse applications
- Reply quickly and thoroughly to registered opportunities and reimbursement claims (and promptly credit qualified queries)
- Allow partners the flexibility to customize their incentives based on relevancy to business goals, road blocks and pain points