We are pleased to announce our partnership with Requisite Software, an industry-leading Channel Management, B2B eCommerce and Master Data Management solutions. Together we plan to provide a series of postings highlighting issues and soutions for the partner management community.  This is the first in the series.

If there is one consistent trend in MDF, it’s that partners rarely use all their MDF allocation. I heard one frustrated channel manager say it was criminal that VARs and resellers do not take advantage of this “free money”.

Why don’t our partners take advantage of MDF funds? Well, I’ve heard lots of reasons: “too many rules, it is very complicated to get reimbursement”, “too many vendors, we can’t possibly do marketing for each of them”, “not enough time, we can barely keep up with the operations”, “we don’t have the staff to design, deliver, and keep on top of marketing”, “we didn’t know what was available and it expired”.

So the gist of it is that “free money” is not really free. There are costs in time and resources to build and launch marketing campaigns, plus a need for expertise smaller partners do not have. Yet failing to use these funds short-change both vendors and partners. This is capital that is not working for you to build your business.

In response, there has been a shift from partner-led marketing to vendor-led marketing, making it easier for partners to leverage the expertise, resources, and MDF programs provided by vendors. Many vendors have taken the lead in building campaigns in a can. These are pre-packaged marketing programs that are easy for partners to deploy, reducing the time it takes to deploy demand generation marketing. And because they are pre-packaged, they come with messaging, calls to action and offers already built in. The best advantage is that many vendors have preapproved these campaigns for MDF funding, which helps partners to leap-frog the sometimes complicated reimbursement process.

So if you are a vendor, take a look at your partner tool portfolio to see if you need to refresh or add a demand generation campaign in a can. Can you do the execution for your partners? How can you make it easier to engage with you so that your partners spend more time selling and less trying to navigate your process? How can you implement the right metrics in your PRM system to track the effectiveness of your campaigns?

If you are a partner, talk to your vendors and find out if they have pre-packaged, pre-approved campaigns. And if they don’t, don’t be shy (I know you aren’t!) and ask for it. It could make all the difference in filling your pipeline with good, qualified leads.

Tips for successful campaigns in a can:

  1. An easy to follow process.  If partners can see an easy, step by step online process to sign up for and execute a pre-packaged campaign, they will be much more likely to engage – and spend that MDF! 
  2. Low qualification criteria.  If there are too many hoops to jump through, partners won’t spend the time to use it.  Plus, high bars for qualifying mean that partners won’t come back next time to try to do a campaign with the vendor – they just might go to the vendor’s competitor.
  3. Set limits. Many partners will want to engage in a pre-packaged campaign in a can thinking that they will get access to vendor lead databases.  Vendors should be clear on what lead databases (if any) partners have access to.
  4. Solutions focused. Campaigns in a can shouldn’t be all about the vendor’s product.  They need to provide for equal space for the partner to add their “value add.”  Do they provide services?  Training?  An industry domain solution?   Make sure that the message that goes out to prospects incorporates the entire partner-vendor solution.
  5. Drive Awareness. Leverage your PRM systems email communication and content management functions to increase awareness of the tools you are making available to your partners.

About the Co-Author:

Lisa Heydorn, Professional Services Manager at Requisite Software, has over 15 years of experience with channel operations in high-tech, telecommunications and manufacturing industries. She is a proven leader with strong skills in project management, customer service, execution, and on-time delivery. At Requisite, Lisa is responsible for the Channel Management solution.