Every day, thousands of companies sell their products or services through independent channel partners such as franchisees, agents or financial advisors, dealers or distributors, and value-added resellers. Many kinds of companies – including insurance companies, financial services firms, technology companies, and manufacturers – derive a significant portion of their total revenues from indirect channel sales.
The importance of indirect channel revenues has led channel vendors to implement a variety of tactics and programs designed to boost the revenues produced by their partners. For decades, channel vendors have used financial incentives such as sales performance incentive funds, market development funds, and co-op advertising funds to motivate their channel partners.
More recently, channel vendors have turned to technology to improve channel partner performance. Over the past several years, a growing number of channel vendors have implemented software applications designed to facilitate the marketing activities of their partners. These applications can be called distributed marketing automation, local marketing automation, and through-partner marketing automation, but regardless of the name, they are all channel marketing enablement solutions.
It’s important to recognize that these channel marketing enablement solutions primarily enhance the marketing capabilities of channel partners. They are designed to be used by marketers to perform marketing activities. They aren’t typically designed to be used by sales reps, and they don’t usually provide support for the kinds of interactions that occur between sales reps and potential buyers. Therefore, channel marketing enablement solutions can leave a significant “enablement gap” in channel operations, as the following diagram illustrates.