Consumers absolutely know a great product when they see it. There’s no playbook or set of guidelines to lead them. Take the classic example of the iPhone. Since 1998, Apple has been reinventing the device with each upgrade. The latest iteration, iPhone 13, boasts the most advanced dual-camera system ever on an iPhone, an industry-leading IP68 rating for water resistance, and an advanced 5G experience.
Apple is a master of producing stunning products that get attention. It’s just one example of many global organizations that excel at selling and marketing great products. If channel companies and partners want to crush their revenue goals over the next 18 months, here are some fundamental principles from companies like Apple and Microsoft that they must adopt today.
Nail Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is one of the hottest topics in business today. But becoming a digital business is as much about improving customer experience as driving revenue. According to the latest research, the market size for digital transformation was $737.88 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $3.54 trillion by 2028.
For channel partners, digital transformation is critical because business today requires automation and integration of the latest technologies, both upstream and downstream. Partners must be aligned with the channel organization at each step of the way, and much of this includes keeping pace technologically.
Writer Christine Horton summed it up this way: “Vendors increasingly understand that staying on top of partner relationships via manual spreadsheets is no longer a viable option.” While technology is the key enabler of channel-partner relationships, it takes more than just great technology to maintain that partnership.
Bring Sales and Marketing Under One Roof
Sales and marketing are how organizations primarily generate leads and revenue. Sales refers to all the activities to sell products and services to a target audience. Marketing is more about the techniques, tools, and processes of grabbing their attention. Traditionally, the two departments were frequently out of sync with each other, but, due to digital technology, sales and marketing are now integral components of the channel partnership.
For example, the newest generation of integrated channel-partner platforms provides the ability to build, distribute, and monitor the performance of sales and marketing initiatives cost-effectively across entire organizations. These platforms provide a unified way to monitor partner relations through key features such as messaging, digital asset management, analytics and segmentation, and lead and list management.
Bringing together sales and marketing means employing the “best of both worlds” to empower channel partners to win their market. But none of this matters without the last critical element in place.
Obsess Over Customer Service
Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder, pointed to customer experience as the key to success: “You’ve got to start with customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.” While customer experience is now widely considered a business mantra, it is still surprising how many companies get it wrong.
The baseline expectation today is not just great customer service but actual “customer obsession.” Microsoft has provided excellent guidelines on how to meet rapidly expanding business needs:
- Getting to know the customer
- Establishing confidence
- Helping customers envision their path to digital transformation
- Listening well
As the face of the channel organization, partners have a special role to play in representing their products and services to the world. Sparking customer obsession begins with understanding the unique needs of the customer first. This happens by establishing credibility, bringing new insights and value, and even a willingness to challenge the status quo—all without pushing the solution out of the gate.
Winning the market today is so much more than cool products and shiny objects. Customers see beyond the veneer and can tell if a company is truly committed to making their lives better. The “golden triad” of digital transformation, sales and marketing, and customer obsession are the foundations of success in this era’s fast-paced digital economy. Getting these elements right is the key to finishing strong in 2022 and positioning for success in 2023.