[podcast] Through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) with Jay McBain
Today we continue with our series of episodes on partner programs and how marketing automation is handling the scale of channel programs for thousands of software companies globally.
Forrester predicts the through-channel software market to grow to $1.18 billion by 2023. This market includes 10s of thousands of digital agencies realizing $2B in service revenue by that year.
So I invited Mr. Jay McBain from Forrester.com to join me in unpacking the topic of “Through-Channel Marketing Automation.”
If you haven’t run across Jay, I’d wonder how – he is one of the most visible thought leaders in the global technology channel.
Named to the Top 40 Under Forty by the Business Review, he is often sought out for industry guidance and future trends.
He has spent his 24-year career in various executive channel sales, marketing, and strategy roles within IBM, Lenovo, Autotask, and ChannelEyes. Jay is the principal analyst for global channels at Forrester – one of the most influential global research and advisory firms in the world.
In this discussion, Jay and I review:
This was one of the most enlightening episodes I’ve had with one of the brightest people in channel today.
75% of world trade is indirect. We call in every industry the way they get to the customer indirect sales, partnership sales, etc. But it’s easier to think of it like when you buy a car for example. You are buying from the channel which is the dealership
Think of it as the 3rd parties companies that you work with that you don’t control.
This is one of the biggest changes in channel sales in the last 30 years. Partnerships are expanding to have non-transacting partners take more of the load. Microsoft has over 400,000 resellers and they are getting 7,500 new partners every month. But 80% of them are now non-transactional, they are the influencers, installers, implementers etc.
There are about 150 shows per year and I move between a lot of different industries. Because of this, I speak at about 50 of them. I like to talk about where the market is going and how things will look in about 3-5 years.
For the vendors and manufacturers, I like to advise them on how to build better partnerships and relationships.
In other words, I speak about the future. There are so many changes happening, almost every company needs to transform. About 60% of the people making technology decisions now are a line of business executives. We do research on how and why they buy.
When you inspect these things, it becomes clear that everything will be different in the next few years
I call it the 3rd stage. 20 years ago we used to hear that you have to be “born to be a salesperson.” This is no longer true. Sales is now becoming a science instead of an innate ability.
We are at a maturity point in marketing where the levers and dials most people can understand. This has been causing debates about what parts of the company are going to get marketing investment. The 3rd stage today is the channel, 75% of sales flow indirectly.
The last mile is up to the people and industries who influence the customers to elevate the conversation. Some of the biggest companies in the world have most of their sales go through channels.
Your internal purchasing decision-maker of this tool would look to the reps of the tools in your stack and ask about integration partner marketing automation software…
Or, you may be looking at a CRM and they would also recommend and intro you to the marketing automation software they represent
Tell me more about the behind-the-scenes efforts that are going on to make sure I am getting the right information at the right time from these reseller partners of that software I will inevitably choose (in this case, marketing automation)?
Saas companies are growing every day, and the average saas CEO now has 9 competitors instead of 1. On average, a SAAS CEO is going to bring in about 5 different people to help grow the company, consultants, integrators, traditional partners, etc. The goal is to grab some super-connectors that you trust. They will help you form your marketing strategy, and that’s the story of Partnerships.
On average 73% prefer to buy in an e-commerce kind of way. Typically, they would but it from an integrator, but as millennials take over, they are starting their journey at Adobe Marketplace or Salesforce Marketplace.
Basically, you can have them directly sign up with you. They will bill the customer, take their money, and give you a lesser amount. They will make front end and back end profits because of this. This is traditional transaction flow.
Relatively small partners can become billion dollar companies because most of their sales are passthrough.
You can also sell through a distributor and then they sell to a partner. The distributor builds the cake and the partner has the ability to sell all seven layers to customers.
In some cases, the SAAS developer will use some retail marketplaces. Selling your products through Amazon or Adobe for example. In this case, the partner is the marketplace.
On the PRM side, is basically the system of record for the partner. It manages the recruitment of the partner, the certification, and development of the partner. It measures performance and allows you to make partner plans as well. It’s basically the operating system for the partner program.
For partnership professionals, there’s a ton of detail that goes into the process. The first step is creating your partner profile. For example, if your customer is a star, your potential partners are the planets that orbit that star.
The 5 vectors to answer are:
Strategy and Design
Find and Recruit
Co-Selling and Co-Marketing
Managing and Reporting
Look at the ones that are happy, those are probably the ideal customer profile. Basically, replicate the success you are already having with your clients.
Until you lock down your product fit and direct marketing capabilities you do not want to franchise anything. Many companies get out of the gate too quickly. If McDonalds started franchising without those controls, they would have never been the company they are today.
Don’t start too early, it can be expensive and it has a high failure rate. When you start your company go slow. Focus on the necessities one step at a time. Don’t worry about the big flashy portals. Get partners slowly in the beginning and learn from them. Develop strategies based on what works.
You are probably developing a bronze, silver, gold system. I would develop 70% of my time on the star (customer) and the planets (relevant partners). If I need more digital agencies in my future, I want to bring on a couple of digital agencies and see how it works, then I would build a playbook then expand on that.
Circles are our way of describing the relationships found in partnership ecosystems where a consultant and/or agency is partnered with both your tech and a product you sell well with (possibly also natively integrated to). This video will explain the strategy on finding those circles within your ecosystem.View Resource
Partner teams are often left dependent on sales/marketing for data and a lead process. This system is meant to be powered by the partner team to ensure they can scale without needing to rely on sales for data and leads.View Resource
From my interviews and experiences, I’ve learned the main criteria that needs to surround the partner ecosystem for it to be successful, even necessary, earlier on. Those criteria are described in this article on partnerships success/View Resource