The channel is concerned that a lack of marketing skills could impact success and competitiveness, with many feeling the pressure to promote their brands across the industry.
Research from BT Wholesale has lifted the lid on a number of worries that the channel has around marketing and finance capabilities.
The comms giant found that 73% of channel partners were experiencing a shortage of in-house marketing and finance skills and 89% felt there were challenges in maximising brand awareness.
The research also found that the top business priorities in the channel over the next 12 months will be generating new leads, attracting fresh prospects and increasing revenue from existing customers. All those ambitions require decent marketing and branding, adding to the pressure on resellers.
There was also a sense that those that were successful were able to demonstrate a clear message and reassure customers with transparency, which many users placed above pricing as an attribute they were looking for in a supplier.
The research found that channel partners are listening to customers, with 55% reporting that business plans are shaped by their feedback, and a similar percentage looking at industry trends. Guidance from vendors and fellow partners was also useful.
The importance of transparency and simplicity was ranked highly by 65%, who felt this mattered more to customers than other factors, such as value for money and the ease of use of the technology being bought.
Faye Dominey, head of marketing at BT Wholesale, said the channel wanted growth, particularly in the current economy, and faced changing demands from users.
“The pandemic has evolved customer requirements, and they are prioritising transparency and simplicity over value for money,” she said. “They are looking for long-term partners that support them in growing their businesses through innovative technology, which means it is more important than ever to know customers inside out and to have a consultative two-way relationship.
“Partners, in turn, require the same from the channel ecosystem. They require relationships that allow for seamless purchasing, selling and open conversations that drive speed and quality of delivery. Collaboration fuels opportunity, which benefits all.”
One source said vendors recognised that they needed to provide sales and marketing tools for partners, as well as helping to generate interest in the technology.
“It is our job to drive awareness of the brand and the technology, so the partner can focus on adding their value elsewhere,” he said.
This is not the first time a vendor has shone a light on concerns about sales and marketing skills in the channel and others, including Datto, have also highlighted that a lack of skills in this area is undermining the channel’s opportunities for growth.
Although vendors provide marketing support, the majority are focused on helping partners promote their technology, rather than supporting partners with techniques to promote their own business and capabilities.
The marketing challenge
- Marketing and finance were the areas found to have the highest skills shortage for channel partners.
- 45% still handle marketing in-house.
- 78% of channel partners intend to increase investment in MarTech tools and 73% intend to increase investment in upskilling marketing teams.
- Channel partners predict they will spend, on average, £36,050 on marketing activities over the next year.
- Social media is the top lead-generating channel (71%), followed by telemarketing (49%). The most commonly used platforms are LinkedIn (98%), Twitter (95%) and Facebook (90%).
- 60% of channel partners are planning to use Reddit in the next 12 months.
- Only 18% of senior decision-makers selected face-to-face meetings and events among their top three lead-producing channels.