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Channel Breakthrough: Tapping into the Power of Partner Currency

At the recent Channel Breakthrough LIVE event in Boston, I learned a few things about Pino Soro.

Pino Soro

  1. He is on CRN’s list of “100 People You Don’t Know But Should.”
  2. He is obsessed with college basketball, specifically UConn Huskies.  (As a lifelong Pitt fan, respect.)
  3. He knows how to generate demand and win through 100% channel models.

In his 18 years as a marketing strategist for technology companies, Pino has experience working in highly competitive environments.  He now serves as the senior director of demand generation at CyberArk – a security software company that specializes in protecting enterprises against cyber attacks and threats.

As Pino noted, years ago it was enough for suppliers to expect partners to register deals all day.  But as demands and attention shifted, partners wanted something more in return.   These “somethings” are the building blocks of your partner currency.

Currency, as formally defined, is something of value that is in circulation as a medium of exchange.  Related to the channel, Pino offers a slightly different definition.  He says to think of currency as anything that can be used, that has value to the partner and can incent them to create a reciprocal relationship.  

I wanted to share with Channel Chatter readers a few key takeaways from Pino’s excellent Channel Breakthrough presentation on the power of partner currency:

“Live in reality, not theory.”

Once you’ve determined the currency types you have in play, map them.  This helps you graduate from the “theory” of the exercise to reality. Rebates? Exclusive campaigns?  Speaking opportunities? SPIFs?  List them and be sure to include not only the currency type but the target audience for that currency (field sales rep? marketer?), and an estimated dollar value of that currency type.

“Go back to Psych 101.”

Pino recommends getting started with a crash course in psychology.  Your partners are people so take the time to really understand what your partners care about, and what they’re going to dismiss as not important to the relationship. Or, as Pino puts it, what’s going to make them laugh you right out of the room.

“Find your champions.”

Go into the partner organization bottoms up, rather than top-down.  Tightly align yourself with the field level and spend time building relationships and exchanging currency with the boots on the ground for relevant wins.  Once you have a critical mass of wins, it’s time to elevate what’s working upstream to leadership.

“If it’s not on paper, it doesn’t exist.”

Involve partners in planning – then make sure it’s documented.  No matter what currency type you use, create clear objectives and remember to demand (nicely) a return.  Your partners should be savvy enough to know you’re offerings aren’t charity with an endless supply of resources behind them. There should always be an expectation of return. Whether it’s pipeline or data you expect from the activity, make sure everyone is on the same page.

 

Submitted by: Kiersten Hoffman, Director of Content Marketing at Zift Solutions.

 

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