"If I had to give any advice to a channel manager looking to grow their program, I’d say highlight your top three, four, maybe even five areas that you really want to get done and start with those. And select a platform that can grow with you as well."
Matt Moriarty, Digital and Channel Marketing Manager at Brother Mobile Solutions, Inc. has been named a Channeltivity Channel Champion. Channel Champions are selected because they have built thriving relationships with their partners and are growing their channel in exciting ways.
View the video to hear Matt talk about the strategies used and learned in his career that have helped him build strong, successful channel programs.
Channel Champion conversation transcript:
Channeltivity: What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) faced growing a channel program?
Moriarty: What I see as one of the greatest challenges in channel programs right now is how the buyer is changing. The buyer has become a lot different over the last five to 10 years. They research a lot more. Often channel partners don’t even become involved in a sales cycle until they’re maybe 70-80% in and they’re ready to buy. This has made it very difficult for channel programs to keep up because in the past channel programs would be ‘how can I get my partners in the door to start’. ‘How can I get them new leads’. Most of the people— most the end users— have already done research for months and months before a new partner comes in.
Channeltivity: What do you believe has the biggest impact to the success of a channel program?
Moriarty: Stay top of mind with partners. For us to stay top of mind we really try to communicate as much as we can, be it with quarterly communication, sometimes it’s just email communication, or even calls are ideal. I do a lot of programs that work directly with my ISP and reseller partners. Our sales team is really directed more on the end user. So it’s more a push-pull strategy where I’m helping the resellers or ISVs do more of the push, and then we have our sales team get more on that pull side of getting the end users to bring us in. It is definitely a two-pronged approach. But it’s important to stay top of mind because a lot of manufacturers, and I should say a lot of our resellers, they might actually rep 100, 200, 500 different manufacturers.”
Channeltivity: What do you believe are the key traits to look for in a good potential partner?
Moriarty: For Brother, our ideal partner has evolved over the last 10 years. When we first started we really wanted to bring in anybody that wanted to be a partner or was willing to sell Brother Mobile Solution mobile printers. That’s changed quite a bit now over the last year and a half to 2 years. What we look for now is someone who’s actually in one of our niche verticals and someone who is eager and really just anxious to sell our printers. They want to get out there and they want to promote us. They want to bring us in on deals. In the past, we had a lot of what we call box movers or bid surfers. Our program really expanded because for one bid we might get six or seven different resellers that want to join our program just to get the one bid. And what we’ve done now is we’ve actually taken a different approach to review applications that come in.” “Having good conversations with those partners to find out if they are going to be bidding just one job. Do they want to actually carry our products for the long term? A lot of the ones we bring in now aren’t bidding a job at all.
Channeltivity: How do you believe PRM solutions, like Channeltivity, can help a channel program reach their goals?
Moriarty: For us, when we were re-launching, one of the key items we focused on was trying to find the right PRM platform. Deal registration was a big item for us and visibility into it. One of the things we didn’t have with our past program was any visibility from our reseller side or our software side, and what was happening in terms of activity. The Channeltivity portal gave us that. It gave us the ability to actually push leads out to our reseller partners. We also work with Salesforce.com and we match those platforms together. So a lot of things that are happening in Salesforce are also happening in our Channeltivity platform.
We have seen double-digit sales growth on both our gold and silver tiers and that’s something we can track in Channeltivity and in our partner portal.
And since we’ve been doing that, we’ve had a lot more interaction with our partners. And in my mind, that’s the bigger thing. That interaction to me tells me which partners are actually engaged with us and which ones are the box movers. Our sales team will actually look more at the final sales number. And with our new program, we’ve actually been able to see both the increase in activity and in sales which has been definitely a win-win for our team.
Channeltivity: In what ways do you believe Partners benefit from your having a PRM platform?
Moriarty: For us, the portal itself has been very beneficial to our partners. We had a lot of communications going back and forth, sometimes with a partner and a sales rep, sometimes a partner and a marketing person, or an inside sales rep, and we could never really capture what was happening. Now we run a lot of that through our portal. Anytime someone asks where can I get either an image or a price sheet or any kind of enablement tool we direct them immediately back to the portal. It was a struggle the first couple of months to even get our sales team to do it, but now they’re doing it too and they’ve seen the benefit of reducing that back and forth and able to get things a lot quicker. We’re a smaller team here Brother Mobile. Sometimes we wouldn’t be able to turn it around within a day or two to get them even an image and we’d actually hold up some of their programs or progress. Now they know. If you need something go to the portal first. You’re going to be able to find it and find it very quickly. If for some reason you can’t find it then communicate with us directly by phone or e-mail and then usually we go into the portal with them we can walk them through it to try to train them to find these items.
Channeltivity: How do you ensure leadership is onboard with your organization’s channel program?
Moriarty: We’ve worked hand-in-hand with our leadership team from the beginning. To keep their buy-in we provide the statistics to let them know what’s increasing, what’s decreasing, and any new functionality that we have. The leadership team is the first ones to know and we give our President as much data from our portal as he can use. This has been very beneficial and we now get requests on a monthly or quarterly basis. Management wants to know what the new things are that we’re doing in our portal, data updates including deal registration volume, or how lead distribution is doing.
Channeltivity: What words of advice would you have for emerging channel programs?
Moriarty: If I had to give any advice to either a new channel manager or any company that’s looking to start up a new program, or even revise their old program, I’d say highlight your top three, four, maybe even five areas that you really want to get done and start with those. And select a PRM platform that can grow with you as well.
I think the few items that if you can master your program will be successful is number one, deal registration. We had to master it and I think most companies need to be able to do it and be able to do it very easily for the partner. The more complicated you make anything for a partner they’re not going to want to interact with you or your program. I think a lead distribution module with it is definitely in there as well because as much as you want that partner to be able to come in and give you new opportunities you have to be able to show that loyalty back to your partners by distributing leads to them and tracking it. Be able to track your metrics. Be able to see things and be able to report out of them in a very easy way.
If leadership asks you a question or they ask for metrics and you can’t provide that in a quick timeframe they usually look at your program is not doing well. Even though the numbers might be great if it takes you a month to pull together your stats they’re not going to be happy with it. If you could do those three things very well: deal registration, lead distribution, and then track your metrics, your program is going to be on its way to a good start.