It's the way we think...

Break down the barriers between sales and marketing with tools
​that help you drive revenue up and cost of sales down

  • The explosive growth of online information has dramatically changed how consumers and business buyers learn about products and services. But despite the undeniable shift to online channels, effective person-to-person selling remains vital to the success of many companies. In a 2015 survey by Forbes Insights, US business executives ranked sales productivity as their most important management function.


    The continuing importance of sales productivity has led a growing number of companies to create a dedicated sales enablement function. Recent research by CSO Insights found that 25.5% of companies had a dedicated sales enablement function in 2014, and another 6.7% of companies planned to create one in 2015.


    The centerpiece of any successful sales enablement effort is an effective sales content management system because content provides the essential fuel for productive interactions between sales reps and today’s demanding buyers. Unfortunately, it seems clear that there’s a pressing need to improve sales content management in most companies. SiriusDecisions recently estimated that, on average, 28% of all the content owned by B2B companies isn’t used because potential users are unaware that it exists, or because it’s difficult to find.

  • To increase the frequency and boost the effectiveness of their partners’ marketing activities, a growing number of channel vendors are now adding managed marketing services to their marketing enablement systems. Managed marketing services typically include pre-packaged marketing campaigns, as well as campaign execution services (production, fulfillment, etc.). With managed marketing services, channel vendors give their partners access to a “storefront” of complete, ready-to-execute marketing programs.


    To increase the frequency and the effectiveness of channel partner marketing, a growing number of channel vendors are adding managed marketing services to their marketing enablement systems.


    When channel partners want to run a particular marketing campaign, they simply “order” it via an intuitive interface that mimics the shopping experience provided by consumer websites like Once ordered, the channel vendor (or, more likely, the vendor’s marketing enablement solution partner) executes the campaign, making it completely turnkey for channel partners. The campaigns made available to channel partners are typically pre-approved for the channel vendor’s MDF program, so channel partners don’t need to pay for the campaign and then seek reimbursement. Instead, the channel vendor pays any external service providers directly.


    Channel vendors that offer managed marketing services typically work with a marketing services firm that provides both the partner marketing automation technology platform and the marketing execution services. Most channel vendors find that outsourcing the day-to-day management and operation of a managed marketing services program is more effective and less costly than managing the program using internal resources. In some cases, the managed services offering will include marketing campaigns provided by several marketing services firms. Regardless of who actually provides the services, channel partners have access to what is essentially a “marketplace” of pre-approved, ready-to-execute marketing campaigns.


    Providing managed marketing services to a network of channel partners adds a significant layer of complexity to a channel vendor’s marketing enablement efforts. When a channel vendor adds managed marketing services, it becomes an active participant in the marketing efforts of its channel partners, and this places new demands on the vendor’s channel management operations.


    To develop a successful managed marketing services program, we recommend that channel vendors follow five core best practices.​​​

  • For the past several years, a growing number of channel vendors have been implementing a relatively new genre of web-based marketing automation technologies. In the marketplace, several terms are used to describe these technology solutions, including distributed marketing automation, local marketing automation, through-partner marketing automation, partner relationship management, and marketing asset management. In this white paper, we’ll refer to these technology solutions as partner marketing automation, or PMA, solutions.


    Self-service partner portals work reasonably well for large Tier 1 partners, but not for smaller partners who often lack the expertise or staff to take full advantage of the resources a portal provides.


    A partner marketing automation solution is a suite of technology tools that (a) provide channel vendors a mechanism for distributing marketing content to channel partners, and (b) streamline and automate some marketing activities for channel partners. The primary attribute of a PMA solution is a secure online portal site that enables channel vendors to manage marketing content resources and allows channel partners to manage and perform a variety of marketing activities.


    The core feature of a partner marketing automation solution is a central repository containing the marketing content resources that the channel vendor makes available to its channel partners. These resources will typically include branding components such as logos, marketing collateral documents such as brochures and product sheets, and marketing campaign materials such as direct mail documents, e-mail marketing messages, and advertisements for print publications. The PMA solution will also include an online catalog describing the available content resources and functionality that enables channel partners to order desired resources.

  • For decades, channel vendors have used various kinds of financial incentives to boost the sales and marketing efforts of their channel partners. Some of these programs normally relate to specific products and typically involve sales performance incentive funds (SPIF or spiffs), rebates, or special pricing. In the marketing area, financial incentive programs have historically taken one of two forms—market development funds (MDF) programs or co-op marketing (advertising) funds programs.


    Market development funds are funds that channel vendors allocate to their channel partners on a discretionary basis. MDF programs are typically used to support marketing activities that require the advance approval of the channel vendor. Co-op marketing funds are typically allocated to channel partners based on a percentage of their sales during a defined time period, or some other performance metric. Therefore, co-op marketing funds essentially reward channel partners for their past performance. In this white paper, we’ll refer to both of these program types as MDF programs.


    MDF programs are an essential component of any high-performing marketing enablement system, but they are not usually sufficient to significantly boost the marketing efforts of channel partners.


    MDF programs are an essential component of any high-performing marketing enablement system. As noted earlier, many channel partners are small organizations that don’t have sufficient financial resources to market effectively. However, MDF programs are usually not sufficient to significantly boost the marketing efforts of channel partners.