Marketing and sales are rapidly playing catch up with digital transformation to ensure that their processes reflect the new buyer's digital journey. Sales people now face a challenge in becoming known as 'trusted advisors' who can deliver ongoing value before, during and after the customer acquisition phase.
70% - 90% (Forrester) of the buyer’s journey is now completed online before first contact with any vendors, digital content therefore playing a critical role in building awareness of your brand. Shifting from an outbound to an inbound marketing approach is the key premise for accompanying customers throughout this new buyer journey.
Adopting an inbound digital selling approach is a must for both vendors and channel partners. Established brands themselves are not immune to rising to this challenge, despite their large budgets and considerable resources. Yet for smaller channel partners with restricted budgets and marketing teams, the challenge is even more significant.However, there are ways in which vendors can support partners in adopting an inbound digital selling approach, which ultimately will be beneficial for both the partner and vendor's business. I've compiled some top tips to explain how vendors can help partners adopt and embrace digital selling:
Top Tips for Vendors Helping Channel Partners with Digital Selling
Random spend of MDF budget on outbound lead generation activities simply don't match the new buyer journey. Leads might be generated but do they actually lead to revenue?
Lorraine Maurice from SAP wrote a great blog about how marketing and sales need to work together on creating relationships with customers that are based on attracting inbound business.
Support investment in marketing and sales automation tools to track all activity
Which activities actually grow website traffic and revenue? Integrated tools such as HubSpot allow visibility into tracking all activity, customer touchpoints and connecting them to eventual sales.
Thought Leadership Blogging
This helps establish your thought leaders in relevant key industry areas. No-one is expecting all sales reps to be able to find the time or have the relevant skills to write blogs, but they do have the direct contact with customers and know which issues/ pain points resonate and how to help. Support them with the resources to facilitate turning these key insights into blogs!
SEO/ Website/ Digital Marketing audits
Support partners with their keyword strategy. They might be producing great content but without relevant optimisation their efforts could be going to waste.
We use our Employee Social Media Impact quiz to identify where your employees currently are and where they want (and sometimes need) to be. It helps us target training more accurately.
Enable your employees to share valuable content via their own profiles. Support partners with tips for employee advocacy training and sharing platforms. Vendors can also support their partners by resharing their content via their own corporate employee advocacy platform....and vice versa. Analysis of LinkedIn network activity backs this up - the CTR on a piece of content is 2x higher (Social Media Today) when shared by an employee versus when shared by the company itself.
Social Selling & LinkedIn Sales Navigator Training
Provide adequate resources & funding for partner's social selling enablement. There's no argument that it's a longer term approach to achieving ROI but the fact remains that it works. Many sales reps have vendor funded Sales Navigator licences, but do channel partners sales reps know how to use these optimally?
Recent research shows that social sellers attract 45% more opportunities than their peers, are 51% more likely to achieve quotas, and outsell their non-social counterparts 78% of the time. (LinkedIn). Excellent statistics to discuss with sales people to demonstrate the value of social selling!
Targeted Smart Link campaigns
We've seen first-hand how effective these campaigns can be. Help the sales reps to create personalised Smart Link campaigns with relevant, quality content with their specific customers in mind. ABM has always been around, but the vast array of technology solutions available mean that we can now practice a one-to-few rather than just a one-to-one account based marketing approach. Technology allows us to achieve better value with ABM ...by delivering at scale.
Social Media Account Optimisation
It takes time and effort to fine-tune social media profiles but we know how effective and optimised Twitter & LinkedIn profile can be to drive a social selling approach. Stats show that sales reps using social media as part of their sales technique outsell 78% of their peers, invaluable research for demonstrating the value of social media by sales people (not just marketing).
It's clear that transitioning to an inbound marketing approach is not an overnight shift for either large scale vendors or their channel partners. Success will depend on commitment and understanding from both parties that this is a long-term approach. It might take a little time, but this approach is proven to be incredibly fruitful in terms of delivering ROI and ultimately, generating sales.