But as more competitors enter the market, new technologies are released, and how you interact and engage with your clients shifts, staying ahead of the pack is more important than ever.
According to the Demand Gen 2022 Partner Marketing Benchmark Survey, 82 percent of B2B business leaders will be adding to their roster of partners. At the same time, nearly 70 percent plan to boost their channel program budgets. In short, opportunity is out there for those ready to capture it. This article looks at some of the best practices for continuously messaging your value to old and new customers alike, how you can help drive better outcomes for your customers, and the ways you can build lasting (and profitable) client relationships.
Best Practice 1: Messaging Your Value Requires Consistent Communications
As a channel partner, your role often centers around filling a gap or providing a service where a customer needs assistance. By making the customer’s life easier, you establish yourself as a valuable resource worthy of continued engagement and possibly further investment. But sometimes, particularly when you have a long-lasting relationship, your role can become so much a part of the business that it blends into the rest of the organization.
To help combat this, set up regular touchpoints, reporting, and performance analysis that demonstrates how your role impacts the business. When “out of sight” is “out of mind,” ensuring that your function is brought to the forefront consistently can go a long way toward showcasing your value and remaining engaged with your customers. This can improve your chances of winning the next contract extension and generating new business.
Best Practice 2: Act as a Strategic Partner
As a channel partner, a portion of your relationship with your customers will always be transactional. They need a product or service, and your organization fills that need. But the best channel partners are not just merchants but also help their customers find new and better ways to conduct business. You are often closer to the technology than the customer and have a unique understanding of how it works, what its advantages or shortcomings are, and what other solutions are on the market. When it makes sense, collaborate with your customers to help them identify ways to improve their business and streamline their processes. By assuming a more strategic role, you can not only open the doors to new opportunities but also build stronger relationships and establish trust with your clients.
Best Practice 3: Bring Solutions to the Table, Not Problems
Every customer engagement is going to hit roadblocks. But the best channel partners come to their customers with solutions, not just problems. Of course, when there are issues you need to address them quickly, but taking some time to brainstorm solutions will help showcase the strategic value provided by your organization. From a business operations perspective, this will streamline your engagement and help keep things running smoothly. From a relationship standpoint, your channel will be seen as “problem solvers” who work proactively to deliver the best possible business outcomes. This goes a long way in building trust with your customers.
Best Practice 4: Understand and Respect Priorities
Your priorities and your customers’ priorities may not always align — and that’s OK. While the most successful channel partners are well in-tune with their customers and work toward their goals together, there are many times when your customer’s needs and priorities will not align with your functions within their business. During these times, meetings may get canceled, budgets may get shifted, and calls may go unreturned. Making compromises during these times of flux will show that you understand the nature of their business and you are committed to the long-term. When you can connect, this will also allow you to look for other ways your company can potentially help alleviate whatever challenge your customer was facing.
Best Practice 5: Focus on Community-Building
Your relationship with your customers is just that: a relationship. Relationships need attention and open channels of communication to thrive. Focusing on community-building with your customers will keep communication flowing smoothly. Engage with your customers on social media channels like LinkedIn. Consider creating pages for specific customers where they can engage with you privately to ask questions, get answers, and collaborate strategically. While the best communities happen organically, it is rarely achieved without some level of intention. By building communities and leveraging opportunities for customer engagement, you can help stimulate the organic conversations that lead to better relationships, more business, and sustained success.