Cloud Channel Enablement: Elevating Channel Effectiveness for the Cloud

The cloud may be revolutionary in changing how technology is delivered and consumed, but that doesn’t mean vendors have to reinvent the wheel to sell cloud applications and services successfully. The channel – VARs, systems integrators, MSPs, influencers, and the like – still offer the best route to market.

On the other hand, vendors need to look beyond traditional legacy channel mindsets, and help partners do the same, explained Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst at The 2112 Group, during the Mindmatrix Channel Enablement Webinar, “10 Essential Elements for Building a Cloud Channel.” Selling the cloud is different from selling hardware and software. The margins are slimmer; persistent engagement with customers is key; and, perhaps most noteworthy of all, the sales focus isn’t on a product but on a business outcome.

Narrowing the list of essential elements to 10 (actually, 11) was a difficult exercise for Walsh, who said there are quite a few things to keep in mind when building a cloud channel. But here are the high points:

  1. Offer a product or service that’s relevant to both customers and partners.
  2. Think of your cloud offerings as Legos. Partners should be able to “create a lot of cool things with them,” Walsh said, but they require vision and direction to do so. Think extensibility.
  3. Give partners a reason to want to work with you, whether that’s the relevancy of your product, its extensibility, or some combination thereof.
  4. Recognize the variety of models for interacting with partners. Keep an open mind to the emerging “influencer” paradigm.
  5. Be clear on the economic opportunity for partners in selling your cloud products and services.
  6. Make sure partners have a way to manage the cloud systems they’re selling.
  7. Build a portal that’s clean, uncluttered, and highly functional – one that gives partners information, resources and enablement tools. Don’t set it and forget it; portals require “care and feeding,” Walsh said.
  8. Reduce partners’ perception of risk by training them. They want to know what they’re selling and how they can become cloud experts.
  9. The average partner lacks sales and marketing acumen. Give them the marketing plans, best practices, resources, and know-how they need to be successful selling your products.
  10. Measure partner performance and offer rewards for a job well-done. Bear in mind that performance isn’t all about revenue. Emphasize the importance of high-touch customer engagement and a positive customer experience.
  11. Communicate with partners. And remember that communication isn’t a one-way street. By all means, put mechanisms in place to transmit information to partners, but receiving feedback from them is critical as well.
Click here to listen to the entire Cloud Channel Enablement Webinar.

Leading Sales Enablement Software Provider, Mindmatrix, Makes Strong Showing at Industry Events

Mindmatrix Inc., the Pittsburgh-based, leading sales enablement software provider makes strong showing at industry events by sponsoring 3 key shows in the months of February and March.

Mindmatrix was one of the sponsors at the Bering McKinley Las Vegas Retreat, being held at the Linq hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 4-6, 2018. The sales enablement software provider is sponsoring the High Roller-Open Bar Happy Hour at the Bering McKinley show. Bering McKinley is a leading business consultant for IT Solution Providers.

Mindmatrix will also be showcasing its sales enablement software and services at the MSPExpo, Fort Lauderdale, FL, on February 14-16 at the Broward County Convention Center. The MSPExpo is co-located with the ITExpo, one of the most popular conferences for MSPs and IT service providers. Mindmatrix is a Platinum sponsor at the MSPExpo and is located at Booth#329.

On March 7, Mindmatrix will be at the Hyatt Regency North Dallas in Richardson, TX for the Dallas ChannelPro SMB Forum which is a premier show for IT consultants, VARs, Integrators and Managed Service Providers.

These events present the attendees, primarily MSPs and IT business owners with the sales and marketing coaching they need to improve their businesses; and are showcasing leading industry experts and thought leaders who will cover a wide range of topics of interest for the MSPs and IT business owners. The attendees will also get to learn more about MSP-IT marketing and sales enablement technologies. Mindmatrix will be represented by its Director of Marketing, Kevin Hospodar and members of its MSP Marketing & Sales Enablement team at the shows.

About Mindmatrix:
Mindmatrix offers Channel & Sales Enablement software for direct and indirect sales channels. Mindmatrix is the only provider of a Single Unified Platform that combines PRM software, Direct Sales and Channel Enablement, Channel Marketing Software, Marketing Automation Software and Marketing Asset Management. Mindmatrix takes you through every step in the sales process from lead to revenue, enabling your salespeople and channel partners to sell more, faster.

Through its MSP-IT Advantage Program, Mindmatrix works with hundreds of MSPs, integrators and VARs to make their marketing easy and effective. Mindmatrix empowers MSP sales and marketing teams with Marketing Automation, Sales Enablement and Asset Management tools, Content and Managed Marketing Services to enable MSPs, VARs and integrators to generate leads and close deals more effectively.

Connecting Your Sales Enablement Software with Other Systems: PART - 2

Sales Enablement Software and Asset Management Integration:

Creating assets has become an integral part of any marketing or sales strategy. As prospects become wary of traditional advertising and direct mailers, marketers are adopting new content creation methods.

While this works for the goal of promoting the company’s products and services, it poses another question; how and where to store this wealth of assets that are created for this purpose?

Organizations need simple, unified sales enablement software that bridges the sales and marketing gap and incorporates tools for effective asset management. Implementing a sales enablement software that has inbuilt asset management functionalities works well in this case.

How this integration helps you:

  1. Scale sales organizations: Sales and marketing have independent access to the library, which means that sales doesn’t need to depend on marketing for crucial tasks like developing prospect data analysis, campaign-related collateral or asset creation tools.
  2. Improve sales workflow: Because salespeople know their customers best, it makes sense that they carry on upselling or cross-selling tasks as well. An asset system should allow sales to access relevant collateral on-demand as selling opportunities arise.
  3. Allows creation of high impact sales materials: Integrating Sales Enablement Software with asset management lets salespeople create personalized collateral without being required to be graphic designers. They allow salespeople to create personalized sales presentations, HTML emails, social media fan pages or even personal websites all by themselves.
Sales Enablement Software with asset management integration means that your sales team is in control of the assets that they need for their campaigns. Features like real time reporting and mobile access work in favor of the salespersons who are the actual end users of your assets.

Sales Enablement Software and Social Media Integration:

If your sales enablement software does not support Social Media, you are clearly missing out on the hottest marketing and sales tool. Since most of your prospects and leads are scouring the internet for product research, you have to make sure you are before them at all times.

Having an active online presence increases your chances of being found by your prospects. Also, Google ranks web pages based on how people are talking about you on social media. Through the many social networking sites, you cater to audiences on multiple platforms at once.

Social media integration with sales enablement software means being able to post on multiple platforms, measure, and track how prospects are receiving your content. Since the shelf life of a post is very limited on social networking sites, it becomes important to create timely and regular posts. There are quite a few systems that allow you to do so, but the focus is on providing insights from a marketing perspective.

Sales enablement software that allows salespeople to create their own social campaigns based on their understanding of prospects really adds value to your sales efforts. As it is very important for sales reps to be in constant touch with prospects, social media integration with sales enablement software can help your sales teams a great deal.

How this integration helps you:
  1. Publicity: social media is the electronic word of mouth, and your brand can receive immense publicity on these sites. (think viral ads or memes on Facebook, Twitter)
  2. Lead generation: As followers follow/share/like your brand of their own free will, you are more likely to have a list of concrete prospects.
  3. Automated social drips: This feature lets you create automated social drips so that you don’t have to worry about manually updating your content.
These are some of the most important and basic integrations you must consider to improve your sales effectiveness. Connecting with other systems that complement your sales enablement software completes the bigger picture for your organization.

Connecting Your Sales Enablement Software with Other Systems: The Bigger Picture: Part - 1

In today’s competitive market, companies are looking for ways to increase and improve the quality of leads they obtain. In the past, the importance of aligning your sales and marketing teams was not as pronounced as it is now.

Due to high competition and higher customer awareness, it has become difficult to generate leads from a single source. A CRM system is a great way to tap into lead data from the very beginning of the sales cycle.

However, just the lead data isn't enough to move them down the sales funnel. You need to gain real time insight into prospect behavior so you can differentiate between the ready-to-buy prospects and the still-researching prospects. Connecting systems can result in higher productivity.

Wikipedia’s definition of system integration is “the process of linking together different computing systems and software applications physically or functionally, to act as a coordinated whole” clearly states that the key to a successful integration is “awesome synchronization”.

Connecting with other systems is, however, not as simple as it may seem. It involves a thorough study of what kind of sales enablement software you will need to improve the efficiency of your CRM. How do these systems complement each other, will this slow down your current process? Will this result in shorter workflows and more importantly; will all these efforts yield higher sales for your organization?

For ages, sales teams have relied solely on CRM systems for maintaining their prospect data. When a new prospect is identified by marketing and passed on to sales, a sales rep diligently feeds that data into the system. Most of this data lies there, gathering dust, because only 1 out of every 10 SQLs ever converts to customers.

CRM Integration

Losing 9 out of 10 leads is definitely not a pleasing statistic. If you want to see a change in this statistic, you need to consider integrating your CRM with a sales enablement software that is able to fix the leaking spots of your sales funnel.

One of the reasons why companies lose out on leads is because sales teams are hardly involved in the purchase cycle of the customer. It is only towards the very end that a sales rep comes into the picture. Marketing hands over the leads to sales with relevant information and collateral and expects them to close the deal. The sales rep, having no prior knowledge of the prospect, dives headlong into a seemingly unfamiliar territory and fails to live up to what Marketing promised to the leads. This results in poor close rates as sales and marketing aren’t on the same page.

Marketing and sales often run parallel campaigns. While one is busy promoting Quality A to the prospect, the other may promote Quality B. This ends up confusing the prospect, further contributing to poor close rates.Integrating your CRM and sales enablement closes this gap and promotes transparency between sales and marketing. Unlike a CRM, the core function of Sales Enablement Software is to measure and automate the complete sales processes.

How this integration helps you:

  1. Contact sharing: Integrating your CRM with Sales enablement software can automatically update your lead information. You can import all your contacts from your existing CRM to the Sales Enablement system and vice versa.
  2. Lead analytics: When you engage a lead in one of your campaigns, sales enablement software tracks how and when leads interacts with it. Based on this interaction, the lead is automatically scored in your CRM.
  3. Marketing-sales alignment: You get a one-stop place where your marketing team can communicate with sales personnel. Your marketing and sales team can work in tandem to improvise on strategic planning through marketing tools like email, web, playbook, eBook, print materials, and social publishing.
Integrating your sales enablement software with a CRM system will let you delegate the right job to the right system- which means you get the best of both worlds integrated to work as one whole unit, resulting in higher productivity with hardly any increased costs.