How Will Channel Marketing Evolve in 2015?

I was recently asked by the Channel Marketer Report to share a few predictions on what channel sales and marketing trends I expect to see in 2015. However, in order to look forward, we need to reflect back on the trends we’ve seen to date and how they may change or evolve this year.

In the last several years we have seen companies making great strides towards integrating their partners into their CRM ecosystem and using Partner Relationship Management (PRM) to make it easier and more profitable to do business with them. We are still seeing a considerable increase in PRM implementations.  Our PRM business is up 98 and 87 percent, year over year, for the last two years respectively.  We expect this trend to continue in 2015 for those who have yet to invest in PRM or for whom a homegrown PRM has out lived its usefulness.

In order to earn partner attention and loyalty these days, it takes more than a portal for just deal registration.  The best partners expect the manufacturers they represent to drive demand to them, help them create their own demand, and provide them with productivity tools.  This is why we see functionality like Partner Marketing Enablement technologies becoming more popular in 2015. 

Once companies have their base PRM system installed and begin to see the benefits, a natural next step is to find a way to make the partner experience even better.  On demand automated co-branding of collateral, on demand automated outbound demand generation campaigns, and advanced partner locators or marketplaces will become even more popular in 2015 because they help the partner create their own leads and better manage their business with a particular vendor.

As companies invest more in partner success, however, they will become more interested in partner performance.  Certainly vendors have always been concerned with direct sales performance.  For many, getting to a point where they can measure partner sales performance vs. targets is an attractive objective in itself.  For those who have already made that move, however, performance will be measured on more than just revenue.  Understanding partner performance in terms of training competency, certifications, lead acceptance rates, deal registrations submissions, close ratios, engagement with emails and web content will begin to be used for a more complete view of partner performance individually, and with respect to other partners in a program.  Fortunately, PRM technologies are evolving to meet these requirements and help companies better gauge partner performance and ultimately, achieve greater channel success.

To read the predictions shared by additional channel thought leaders, view the entire contributed article on the Channel Marketer Report website.

Erich Flynn, CRO
TreeHouse Interactive

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