Help Partners Know Their Customers Better
Knowledge is power; the more data you have about end users and partners, the more effective you’ll be at strategizing, communicating, and selling.
By Larry Walsh
In the digitized world, everyone – individuals and businesses – needs technology. And a lot of it. Everyone needs networking gear. Everyone needs security. Everyone needs data storage. Everyone needs endpoints. And everyone needs applications of various kinds.
While it’s easy for vendors and solution providers to say they can sell their products to everyone, it’s hardly true. Worse, that imprecision leads to a lot of wasted money, effort, and – most of all – time.
Understanding customers’ needs and expectations is paramount to successful sales. Surprisingly, channel partners are often oblivious to their customers’ structural characteristics, operational needs, and performance goals. They don’t build or maintain true customer profiles for laser-focused marketing and sales planning.
Profiles and subsequent customer segmentation is more than busy work. It’s about efficiency. Having a deep understanding of the types of customers most suited for your products and services allows you to identify technology needs, tailor marketing to different groups, develop finely honed sales scripts, and craft engagement processes.
Much of the information needed is already in the hands of you and your partners. Every marketing touch, sales call, sales transaction, and support engagement produces copious amounts of data about customers. Details need filling in through old-fashioned surveying, information gathering, and observations. While not always easy to build, customer profiles are worthwhile endeavors that produce highly effective strategy, communications, and selling tools.
If partners had a better understanding of a vertical’s common technology requirements, and knew they had a density of customers in that vertical, they could craft better marketing messages and sales proposals to meet specific operational needs and expectations.
If partners found a group of customers with common technology attributes, they could create filters for assessing others that have gaps in their infrastructure and gauging the needs of new customers. Filters based on common attributes are highly effective when it comes to applying the wisdom of crowds in sales engagements. No one wants to feel as if a neighbor knows something they don’t.
And with profiles, partner salespeople have highly effective language translators. If they know customers intimately based on their attributes, they can go into meetings speaking the native language. This cuts through those awkward “getting to know you” conversations that extend sales cycles.
Profiling and segmentation benefit both your partners and their end-user customers. Having deep insights into customers’ operations, needs, and goals saves time. Partners avoid wasting the time of their customers by executing the sales process with greater precision. And, in doing so, partners benefit by decreasing the sales cycle, which leads to faster sales conversions and revenue recognition.
Too often, vendors and industry analysts label profiles as superficial, focusing on general and broad vertical definitions and customer segmentation by their revenue or number of employees. While these are useful, they don’t go nearly far enough to derive the benefits that come from having detailed profiles of individual and groups of customers.
By collecting and maintaining customer dossiers, partners become more effective sales conduits and marketing intelligence sources to vendors. But the benefits of profiling extend beyond end users. Vendors should profile their partners as well, and one indicator of partners’ value is whether they collect intelligence about their customers. Chances are, partners with a greater sense of their customers will have greater value to you, the vendor.
Profiling may seem simple and straightforward, but there’s a science to it. 2112 offers kits and services to help enable your partners to develop, execute, and operationalize profiling programs. For more information about 2112’s profiling tools and services, send e-mail to [email protected].