The Forrester Blog For Sales Enablement Professionals
This blog is a roll-up of all the posts from analysts who serve Sales Enablement Professionals. Individual analyst blogs are listed below. Visit Forrester.com to learn how we make Sales Enablement Professionals successful every day.
I was encouraged to see that Huawei had a proper track session on its channel strategy during its 10th Global analyst summit in Shenzhen. The track is another sign that the company’s enterprise division is maturing and taking the right steps to expand its activities in China as well as globally.
In 2012, Huawei recruited 1,289 distributors, VAPs, and tier 2 channel partners to reach around 3,789 worldwide, which represents growth of 52% in China, Europe, and 26 other key countries globally. Huawei’s enterprise share of channel sales was around 55% (excludes Operator resale) of its total revenue in 2012, a 32% revenue growth through channels from 2011. Huawei is also starting to build its services and software ecosystems with 700 authorized service partners and 200 ISVs.
Overall, three key things that stood out to me about Huawei’s partner programs are:
A more structured and well-defined partner program: The partner program has evolved considerably since last year and Huawei is working towards mapping its key accounts and streamlining the account management process. Through the segregation of 5000+ named accounts (key accounts based on deal size) and defining the customer engagement model for high value accounts, Huawei can bring about the clearer channel architecture that will be required to build an open and successful channel ecosystem.
Channel partners are bullish about their growth prospects. In fact, in a recently conducted Forrester survey in North America (NA) and Europe, 59% of channel partners expect to grow by more than 10% in each of the next two years. However, partners will need help and handholding as they aim for greater sophistication and higher growth targets, especially around cloud based services. Forrester research indicates that three-quarters of channel partners in NA and Europe now sell cloud-based solutions (up dramatically from two years ago). These solutions now make up 26% of their overall revenue, a percentage they expect to increase in coming years.
In my recent report, Seeding the Cloud Channel, I highlight three key areas where the partners will need support from both their tech vendors and their distributors:
Diagnostic tools and services to assess current maturity and set a transformation road map. Partners will first have to collaborate with their principal vendors to gauge the fitness of their organizations for an annuity-based business model — and whether they can sustain that model in long run. Vendors need to create assessment tools to evaluate their partners' business model transformation potential. For example, Cisco Systems built its OnPlus ROI Tool expressly for partners to model the myriad business model options and scenario decisions they face. This will not only help partners identify their pertinent strengths and weaknesses, but will also help them plan their future growth strategy.
Peter O’Neill here with some comments about being truly effective at content marketing. Did you know that B2B buyers say that 70% of the content they read and study before making a purchase decision is actually found by themselves; as opposed to being given to them by marketing or sales? At Forrester, we like to talk about the new interaction model of need-match-engage, where the buyers now initiate the interaction and spend a major part of their buyer journey doing their own research before calling in potential suppliers.
Content marketing has therefore become much more than product and solutions collateral, campaigns, mailings, and fulfillment. B2B marketers have to be great at being found by buyers in their early research phase (the phases we call discover and explore). In a way, successful marketers will “fool” their buyers into consuming their thought-leadership and educational content in stages 1 through 5 — while hardly realizing its source. And the most successful marketers will learn how to mix their brand "scent" into that content without appearing to be selling — to the extent that buyers will count it as part of their 70%.
B2B marketing leaders are striving to position their companies as “thought leaders.” And why not? If you do not have a truly disruptive technology, product, service or idea (in which case you actually are a thought leader) being seen as a thought leader gives your company strategic differentiation. It helps you stand-out in the cacophony of messages that your customers must sift through to find you. Given the complexities that B2B buyers face when making decisions for sophisticated solutions, your thought leadership might just be the most important part of your marketing program. It becomes part of your brand value. It converts you from a commodity supplier into a trusted advisor who can lead the customer to achievement of their vision.
Your thought leadership only matters if people read it, see it, or hear it.
Now here is some more “earned media” for Cisco. As usual, full disclosure rules require me (Peter O’Neill here) to note that Cisco invited me to its latest Partner Velocity conference in Cannes last week. As they told, the agenda was truly in my sweet zone of research: the challenges of B2B marketing including channel marketing. This annual worldwide conference was held in Las Vegas last year but the last one I had attended was the previous European event two years ago in Barcelona. As I wrote then, I continue to be truly excited by what I saw and heard at the event.
Cisco is the ONLY tech vendor that holds an event of this strength exclusively for marketers – the marketers who work for its business partners. I’ve been on vendor/partner marketing advisory councils but this one was a marketing training event and which IT vendor besides Cisco thinks it is good enough at its own marketing to be able to hold such an event for others? I had some really great conversations with marketers across the globe – I collected business cards from South Africa, Nigeria, Dubai, Lithuania, plus across Europe and North America. It is interesting to hear that marketing has similar issues (getting enough executive support, proving its value, lack of resources) all over the world.
Two things I noted especially at this year’s event:
This week, Colt launched its Ceano cloud services for SMBs with a particular focus on the reseller channel that actually services these businesses. As this announcement combines the business strategy of a telco provider with an innovative channel strategy, Forrester analysts Dan Bieler and Peter O’Neill have again combined (as in their previous blog on Cisco) to discuss their impressions:
Peter O’Neill here and welcome to another “Letter from Germany” post where I highlight something important for you about B2B marketing in Germany. Last week I attended the first Lead Management Summit in Munich, an event organized by the business media publisher Vogel Business Media together with DemandGen AG, the European arm of that worldwide consulting group. More than 150 attendees were treated to an agenda jam-packed full of user experience stories enriched by each speaker with their own set of useful anecdotes. Two highlights for me were:
Thomas Dueker, AEB GmbH(supply chain logistics software vendor). In discussing how he optimized their lead management process, Thomas also said he didn’t like to use the word “lead” too much. He remarked that he sees it as “too American, too much about selling, too quickly.” Remember my note in a previous blog about differing expectations in European marketers? His system identifies “marketable and relevant contacts” and feeds them “quality content with minimum sales messaging.”
I’ve been having a lot of conversations, recently, about sales and marketing alignment. (Well, honestly, who working in B2B marketing hasn’t?) In Forrester’s most recent Marketing Organization and Investment Survey, we asked the respondents (522 B2B marketing execs from companies with more than 100 employees) about the quality of collaboration between sales and marketing. Fifty-seven percent of marketing execs reported weak or mixed collaboration with sales when "defining lead qualification criteria" and "administering leads and lead pipelines." Those numbers underscore the much-storied rift between marketing and our colleagues in sales.
For a while I have been saying that a managed lead-to-revenue process will catalyze a new collaborative relationship between sales and marketing. It makes sense to the point of being incandescently obvious; calibrating sales and marketing around a shared revenue goal is the basis for true alignment. But, until there is proof, it’s a hypothesis. And, now there’s proof.
In our study, we found that companies who have implemented a marketing automation solution (a proxy for a more managed process) reported significantly higher levels of collaboration between sales and marketing, across a number of different dimensions.
Last week, Forrester hosted a channel roundtable in Singapore on theevaluation of channel models in Asia Pacific.The goal was to create a common platform for tech vendor senior channel executives and Forrester analysts to discuss key changes faced by the channel leaders and how best to adapt to them. The briefing was attended by 26 senior channel executives representing 21 tech vendors.
All of the channel leaders agreed with a Forrester report which indicated that channel models are under great pressure due to the growth of mobility and the devices that power it, as-a-service computing models, and the decreasing influence of IT departments on overall tech spending. As they cope with these changes, the key challenges they identified during the interactive roundtable were:
Identifying and engaging with those channel partners that can adjust to market shifts. This emerged as a major challenge, not only for some of the new cloud-based service providers but also for traditional tech vendors venturing into new solution areas. A shortage of skilled channel professionals within Asia Pacific exacerbates this challenge. Several also identified the challenge of high turnover within their channel base and the frustration of investing in the skills of a partner executive and having him shift to a competitor’s channel.
I (writes Peter O'Neill) have just published the Organization report for our lead-to-revenue playbook. My colleague Lori Wizdo is writing most of the 12 reports that form this Forrester playbook, but I get to write a few and we are both excited that Laura Ramos, now back at Forrester, will contribute the Business Case report.
In my report, “The Skills And Structures For L2R Success,” I have avoided suggesting a standard org chart for L2R process management because our client inquiries on this topic show that one size definitely does not fit all. Instead, I have focused on how to organize a team to design and manage a buyer-centric L2RM process. And I discuss the many new job titles, roles, and responsibilities that are now appearing in marketing organizations as more and more enterprises adopt an L2R strategy. I also consider the important interfaces to many other departments that are needed to ensure L2RM success.