Our recent posts have examined why it is appropriate for IT vendors in the B2B space to run promotions as part of their overall sales strategy, as well as our view on what those OEMs need to consider in order to deliver a successful promotion.  That’s not where the decision-making process ends, however.  With a significant percentage of B2B IT sales being managed via a myriad of channel partners, it is vital that their needs and considerations are taken on board when developing a proposed promotion.

We speak of the ‘channel’ as a single entity; it is anything but.  Differences in size, service offering, market focus, customer base and sales style are just the tip of the iceberg.  So, what does this mean when it comes to providing ‘the channel’ with the tools for successful promotions?

Our experience working with a wide cross-section of key players from within the channel – from the very largest, to more niche, boutique set ups – has given us unrivalled insight and appreciation of the factors for success.  Some are shared by many; others are more bespoke to the needs of just a few players.  Regardless, they serve as an important reminder of how to successfully engage with those channel partners.

For many, clear and timely communication is vital.  The fact that the OEM has decided to go ahead with a promotion and has decided on the delivery mechanism for this, can often signal the starting gun to roll it out.  Channel partners, however, regularly feel like an afterthought and aren’t given clear and timely enough communication around the rationale for the promotion, meaning they’re left to scrabble to check availability of stock and prepare the necessary marketing approach.

Making a promotion about more than simply driving sales is also a key consideration that resellers will look out for.  Whilst their primary focus is on securing a sale, a promotion should provide them with an element of ‘value-add’ that they can position as part of their sales approach – without this, it is simply another sales tool.

For larger channel partners, a tailored approach to promotions may also be required.  For those operating at an enterprise level, their sales cycle is much longer and consequently, a more individual boutique solution suits their needs better.

Increasingly, resellers are keen to be consulted at an earlier stage in the creation of promotions.  Rather than be presented with a fait accompli, they have a growing interest to be involved in roundtable consultations that debate the rationale for the promotion and how it’s likely to be received by the end user.  They’re even keen to carry out BETA testing before a full roll-out of a proposed promotion.

Our experience affords us with the insight that some partners, on occasion, remain suspicious of the potential for a promotion to devalue their overall service offering; whilst for others, they view them as simply a door-opener to other leads and opportunities.  Whilst some, as we know, demand the utmost in bespoke and tailored promotions, it would be ignorant to dismiss the need for rapid deployment on occasion too, albeit with a level of personalisation.

We fully understand the nuances of the delivering promotions via the channel and we can facilitate both bespoke options as well as simple, opt-in mechanisms.  However, above all, a B2B IT promotion must be more user-friendly to the channel than the previous one was; it must add more value; AND, it must meet the needs of the resellers you’re asking to deliver it.