Buyer preferences have changed dramatically, and these changes accelerated during the pandemic lockdowns.
Regardless of whether you’re on a channel partner team that works with integrators and managed service providers (MSPs) or you’re part of an integrator or MSP, there are some once-in-generation partner marketing trends that you can’t afford to miss.
What’s behind all of this?
The Shift in Power from Seller to Buyer
Today, technology buyers do tons of self-directed research on their own before they consider speaking with a salesperson from an integrator or managed service provider.
Prospects would much rather search Google, ask questions on social media, read reviews, download eBooks, watch videos, and attend webinars than talk with a salesperson.
Often as much as 60%-80% of that buyer's journey is over before an integrator even knows about a sales opportunity.
This change shifts power away from integrators into the hands of technology buyers. And it requires a dramatic pivot in sales/marketing strategy (go to market) and playbooks.
The integrators doing this well have successfully moved out of the just being seen as vendors and repositioned their company and their team as the go-to subject matter experts and thought leaders in their niches.
Differing Agendas Highlight Partner Marketing Trends
The two audiences (channel partner team and integrator/MSP) often have competing agendas:
- The partner /channel marketing leaders dole out co-op/market development funds (MDFs) and want integrators heavily/primarily marketing/selling their products.
- The integrator or MSP often feels like they have to spend those funds (use it or lose it) but question whether the messaging is helping their own company or the vendor’s channel reps.
The default messaging in co-op/MDF requirements often commoditizes integrators -- IF that is their entire marketing playbook.
Most CEOs, owners, and presidents of the integrators and MSPs know that they need to build their own company brand for differentiation, thought leadership, and competitive positioning), not just wave the flag for the manufacturers they represent.
However, there’s often a big disconnect between this knowledge and action, and the staying power needed to impact a change in market perception.
Understanding the Power Imbalance
Digital transformation makes it even more essential for the channel partner teams to better understand all of their channels (not just the integrators and MSPs)
There's also very often a David/Goliath power dynamic at work, as the manufacturers are often an order of magnitude larger (revenue in the hundreds of millions to billions/100s or 1000s of employees) vs. integrators (revenue in the seven- to mid-eight figure range/dozens or sometimes a few hundred employees).
What kinds of partner marketing trends are you witnessing on your channel partner teams and among your integrators and MSPs? Let me know in the comments.