30 September 2020

Playing nicely with channel partners

Sales playbooks have been around for donkey’s years. Done right, they help reduce new-hire onboarding time, accelerate the company’s revenue run rate, and equip salespeople to smash through their targets. In this blog we look at a new kid on the block: Quick-Start Sales and Marketing Guides (QSGs for short) designed to transform channel partners’ business development strategies.

What’s a QSG and how’s it different?

Sales playbooks are used to galvanise a direct salesforce, but QSGs are a channel play. They’re proving popular with software and technology manufacturers looking to ignite service provider and reseller networks.

Designed to superglue sales and marketing organisations together, a QSG ensures everyone’s pulling in the same direction and speaking the same language. Clear on processes and who does what. And consistently finding and closing sales opportunities. If you’ve ever worked in a channel outfit, you’ll know that’s easy to say and hard to do.

What does a good QSG look like?

Integrating the best of joint value propositions, internal how-to sales guides and product literature, a QSG also provides advice on oven-ready marketing campaigns and the assets needed to support them.

Sadly, we can’t share examples for reasons of commercial confidentiality, but the following synopsis highlights ideal content to be included. 

[A] and [B] elevator pitch

A compelling summary, built around jointly owned USPs, highlighting why people should choose to do business with the partnership.

Why the [A] and [B] partnership?

  • Joint value proposition and description of the alliance and its objectives 
  • Why it’s good for the partner’s business
  • Why it’s good for the partner’s customers
  • Why it’s good for the partner’s salespeople (and yours)

Reasons to buy

  • Summary of key [A] and [B] solutions, set against a short current market analysis, peppered with quantifiable facts pulled from existing partner engagements
  • Customer careabouts with argumentation as to why change is necessary and why the [A] and [B] partnership should be at the centre of the solution
  • Value-adds such as assistance with business process transformation, professional services, integrations, migration support and training 

Conversation guide

  • Talking points to enliven the conversation when speaking to customer people at different management levels or non-IT folk
  • Future roadmap, painting a picture of innovation and new ideas 

Oven-ready marketing campaigns

  • Best practice for planning and executing marketing campaigns, including tools such as call scripts and email templates
  • Vital objection handling counters with example dialogues
  • Sales qualification guidance to highlight the best prospects (or reduce effort on leads not going anywhere)

Marketing content

  • Short and long copy blocks for use on websites and in marketing collateral
  • Hard evidence including customer testimonials, case studies, use cases and the latest analysts’ reports and comments.
  • Strong call to action

See our recommendations below and use these bullet points to create a questionnaire and structure your research.

Creating a QSG

Producing an exceptional QSG takes time and effort. It’s likely you’ll already have knowledge and content for many of the topic areas mentioned above. The rest usually lives in the heads of supplier/partner sales, marketing and product folk, which means you’ll need a solid research methodology.

To be sure you ask the right questions use the above bullet points to create a questionnaire. We recommend phone or video interviews rather than trying to run a form-filling marathon (which never gets the best results anyway). Pay attention to the italicised bullet point above. Often the hardest one to nail, if you can’t clearly articulate how the partnership will personally benefit salespeople, you’re on a loser from the start.

Compelling QSG communications

No matter how well-researched your content is, use a flat Word doc and you’ll lose your audience not long after Page 1, so take the time and trouble to organise your QSG into an interactive PDF or navigable PowerPoint deck using images, icons and infographics to bring out key points and maintain interest.

Make sure the QSG is formatted to be smartphone, tablet and social media friendly. That might mean producing compelling excerpts and Tweets, which not only excite the audience but also show them where to look for the full document (access permitting). And, talking about access, if you’ve used our recommended structure above, some of the QSG content will be commercially confidential. So, consider producing an edited version designed to attract potential channel partners.

One last point is to remember to keep the document up to date. It should live and thrive rather than sitting on a physical or virtual shelf. So, diary quarterly updates and consider integrating social media into traditional channel marketing communications to keep partners informed of QSG revisions along with new initiatives, promotions, events and training opportunities. That way, channel partners don’t have to rely on email alerts but can access information via social media and other communication channels.

Finally, if you’re in a hurry and need a helping hand, reach out to GoRefCo. We’d be delighted to assist. 

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