Indirect sales are on the up, and are only going one way. With internal teams under significant and growing pressure, it's often difficult to deliver targets alone. Introducing a third party to the mix not only brings additional resource but also a fresh, outsider's point of view.

While managing successful, effective and efficient relationships isn't always easy, by following a few sure-fire steps, marketers can ensure their partner relationships flourish, positively impacting their channel marketing programmes.

Take no excuses

There's a common perception that indirect marketing is an accounting black hole. It doesn't need to be that way. Agencies have no excuse not to provide detailed campaigns, so there's no reason it should be accepted. There's huge potential for measurement when it comes to email marketing, so click-through rates should be the very least to expect.

To nurture a prosperous channel programme, marketers need to make expectations clear from day one. Being transparent on internal reporting requirements from the very start ensures that partners you choose to work with fit into how you work. If your partners can't deliver, it's time to reassess.

Marketing is often seen as a more creative business function but finance and budgets are very specific, and this has to be respected and reflected.

All systems go

Systems need to support the selling process from start to finish across all departments. Bureaucracy is a bugbear no matter what industry you work in, so it's important to make it easy for users to access data they need easily.

There's nothing worse than an inefficient marketing machine. Information about sales activity and business results need to be easily accessible without being overwhelming. Having access to data means the marketing department can react, adapt and change to what isn't working.

Not all partners are created equal

Any business collaboration needs to be properly thought through, and finding the perfect channel partner is no exception. Identifying the good from the bad will make budget allocation much easier and allow you to make more strategic decisions as to which sort of partners you need in the future. It's fair to say that not all partners are created equal, so investment of both time and money has to reflect this.

A working relationship

Collaborative sales and marketing teams can be tricky to put together. Marketers can sometimes feel that the sales team doesn't represent the vendor they work for, but rather the partner they work with. It makes for an interesting dynamic, but how do you get past it?

Time and respect are key. No matter what the department, business functions are united in their joint ambition for the vendor and reseller to drive revenue. Marketers and sales teams should take the time to understand each other's goal, decide a plan from that point and then deliver on commitments. It's important not to leave any space for miscommunication, which is the case for any thriving relationship.


James Foulkes, Director & Co-Founder, Kingpin


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