When someone enters a battle, do you give him a pat on the back and wish him luck? No -- you give him the weapons, tools, and training he needs to succeed. Now, business isn't necessarily a battle, but competition between companies today is getting stronger, and brands need more than luck to make it out alive.
So how do you truly differentiate yourself, especially when you aren't the one selling your products or services? Partnerships are an important part of sales growth for many businesses, but it seems that, too often, they don't arm their partners with the resources needed to set themselves apart and succeed. So what does a channel partner need to succeed?
I've been working with partners of my own recently to help out with the release of my book, "Top of Mind," and it got me thinking about exactly what channel partners truly need to make a strategy like this effective.
What Your Channel Partners Need From You
Simply put, you have to give your channel partners every content resource possible to help them succeed, and you have to educate them on how to maximize those content resources.
What do I mean by "every content resource possible"? If a channel partner says he needs a professional-quality video of Jennifer Lopez and Justin Bieber performing a duet about whatever it is your product or service does, you definitely aren't obligated to say, "Sure, no problem!"
Let's limit it to equipping your partners with the reasonable resources they need to succeed. Here are three to think about:
1. Content that educates the end client about the industry
Some of your channel partners have been selling for years, and they may be used to the way they sell, even though the world has changed since they started -- people no longer are OK with being sold to all the time.
Marketing has evolved; the annoying banner ads that punch you in the face when you visit a site are (thankfully) becoming less popular, and traditional selling by just pushing your message on anyone who will listen is dying out.
Your partners and their audiences need content, so start by giving them content that educates clients and potential customers about your industry -- and the trends within it -- so they can start the conversation with something valuable and keep audiences engaged.
2. Content that differentiates you from the rest
Once that audience understands the industry a bit more, its natural inclination is to get deeper and move toward what's specifically different about you.
I recently asked a potential financial advisor what was different about his company, and the advisor said the team would be very responsive when I needed something. Well, yeah, if I give you a lot of my money to manage, I hope you're responsive. That's not so much "different" -- it's the bare minimum.
So what's truly different about you? What are you doing better than your competitors, or what are you doing that no one else is? Identify what's different about you and what your potential clients will respond well to, and have your content marketing team create material around that. That way, your partners can use it effectively, and audiences will want to continue learning more about you.
3. Content that sets expectations and helps them understand what being a customer looks like
At this point, the client should be somewhat sold on why he should go with your company, so it's time to help him imagine it. Use this kind of sales enablement content to help clients understand how your product or service will make their lives easier and how they'll benefit from it.
At the same time, this content can't paint a picture that's flawlessly amazing for everyone. Just like you would do with your own clients, you've got to help your partners set reasonable expectations so they don't sign on and immediately feel like they've been BS'd.
It's tough to rely on others to sell for you, but in many industries, it's vital to pass trust from your partners and their relationships to your brand. Make sure you're equipping your partners with the right content resources to engage their audiences so they're set up to win the battle -- and win over the client.