Channel Champion Blog

The Next Level of Fear

Fear-MarketingAs I pointed out in my previous post (Fear of Technology: It’s an Old Song Part 1), fear of technology can be real. My experience in the early 2000s building a record label showed me everything I needed to know about what not to do with a channel and new technology. In particular, it showed me how fear can cloud our judgment and create short-term thinking and decision making.

However, it is the next level of fear – the fear of marketing – that may in the end cause the greatest gap between successful and unsuccessful partners. How else can you explain partners’ seeming indifference to marketing when the facts about the change in their buyers’ journey has become an absolute?

The fear of marketing may cause the greatest gap between successful and unsuccessful partners. Click To Tweet

Perhaps cloud partners will take their natural inclination to embrace the digital world and prove me wrong by becoming incredible digital marketers, easily assimilating into the digital marketing world and successfully integrating their demand generation with the buying patterns of their prospects.

Now that the laughter has subsided, I think we all know this is not going to happen. There will be those few partners that succeed through:

  1. Their own efforts – partner-led marketing,
  2. Joint marketing – partner marketing combined with vendor efforts (ie. through-partner marketing),
  3. Vendor-led marketing – vendors do the marketing for partners, or
  4. A combination of the above.

Expect to see many articles on this topic with varying ranges of marketing blends and successes from these efforts playing out in the market in the near future.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s agree that there will probably be several levels of partner success. Let’s call those levels Great, Better, Good, Bad, and Horrible. My fear is that only the Great will prosper. While perhaps a dramatic statement, I do think that the need for partners today to be competent at digital marketing is unmatched in the history of the tech channel.

I can only attest to what I have seen and experienced. Even five years ago as a partner embracing digital marketing, we thrived off of it. Our use of digital marketing put us on buyer short lists that were, well… really short, which is to say, just us.

True story: during that time, while shopping at the local grocery store with my young daughter, I ran into a woman who had been following us on social media, attending webinars, and coming in person to our educational events. My daughter politely asked her who she was – she replied “I am someone who is one day going to buy something from your daddy’s company,” and my company was the only ones she was going to buy from – a pretty short list.

A short take on the “short list” – (a list all partners what to be on) what if ZMOT, “Zero Moment of Truth” (you have all seen the videos and heard the predictions), is actually right about how the buyer’s journey has evolved… even if only just a little? We are going to see partners cornering the market on the “short list.” It will become essential to make the list of potential sellers. If you don’t, you literally will not be in the game. The vendors and partners that corner this market, well… they are going to own the market.

What should you do now? Find out how many of your partners are digitally ready and think about what short list you need to get on. In a modern market the entire end-game of marketing is to wind up on someone’s short list, whenever they may be ready to buy. That is how you will win. Those that embrace digital marketing will wind up on short lists and ultimately survive. Those that don’t will die out.

In the next post, we’ll talk about what happens when you do get on that short list. Buyers don’t want to talk to old-school sales guys but to empowered sales/marketers—those who are masters of key marketing messages, who understand the value of case studies, white papers, eBooks, competitive landscapes, ROI calculators, who want to narrow the conversation to a select few who bring the right information and affirmation. And guess what, the new buyers journey allows and rewards just that. These days, the biggest bang for the buck (think time savings) is to have smart people talking to the fewest other smart people who can solve their problems.



Steven Kellam, SVP of Sales and Marketing at CCI

Steven Kellam

As a growth specialist, Steven is responsible for CCI’s sales and marketing strategy and vision for today’s goals and objectives as well as positioning the organization for continued, long-term success. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a successful managed services IT business, and  a background in manufacturing where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.