Margie Gradwohl

Have you noticed that most customers use several different products and services for their business? They’re constantly trying to pull together various apps and tools into a complete and unified solution that can be managed and scaled easily. But that’s easier said than done. In some cases, the exact app or solution needed could be built, but custom-built products require time, resources to develop and implement, and often come with issues around credibility and trust. This is especially true when adopting newly launched apps that don’t have an established track record.

With IDC’s recent prediction that the greater cloud market—including hardware, software, and the professional and managed services surrounding public and private technology—will exceed $500 billion by 2020, ISVs can convert these challenges into opportunities with channel engagement via cloud marketplaces.

What channel enablement means for partners

At Microsoft, partners who sell through Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program enable our cloud ecosystem, helping smaller resellers and ISVs reach customers they might not reach on their own. This allows for increases and shares in revenue with channel partners. An ISV’s successful entry into channel sales via cloud marketplaces can do three important things:

    • Broaden reach into more territories with the help of an extensive channel footprint, conduct business globally with multi-language and currency support, and reach more industries with less marketing investment.
    • Accelerate growth in thriving cloud marketplaces full of buyers, sellers, and solutions that will enable you to sell, provision, manage, and invoice from a single portal.
    • Increase revenue by accessing additional sales staff without the overhead of employment contracts, expenses, wages, and office space. By using the cloud market’s well-trained sales staff and specialized sales engineers, you can close deals faster without increasing your headcount.

Why and how channel enablement works

Partnering with a cloud market provider will help accelerate your time to market and grow your business at a rapid pace, but your channel success is dependent on your understanding and preparation. We’ve all heard about channel enablement, but what does it truly take to develop it well?

I sat down with Scott Owen and Burke Fewel to discuss how DocuSign approached sales enablement and was impressed with their philosophy. To them, it’s not just about enabling the sales team but enabling the entire company. I think we can all learn from their efforts to build their channel well, so I’m sharing how Scott and Burke explained the big picture of enablement. (Spoiler: It’s not just sales enablement!)

1. The marketing team

You need to make sure your new channel partner’s marketing team is equipped to position your product well. In short, this means having a thorough understanding of how your materials should be consumed, how the partner needs to consume them, and helping them to convert messaging into their format and process for sellers.

2. The sales/technical sales team

Although sales enablement is the most widely talked about piece of enablement, it’s important to call out that you should ensure the Sales and Technical Sales Teams are well prepared. This means understanding different scenarios they could face, obstacles and challenges that might come up, and what it takes to actually implement your solution.

3. The sales operations team

They’ve closed the deal, but how do they transact this third-party deal? Enablement efforts must be focused on creating the operational processes (such as billing and invoicing) to support successful sales operations.

4. Ongoing account management

As you work to enable your new channel partner’s success, and in turn your own success, it’s important to stay in contact. Building this relationship will allow you to make the most of their experience and research, adjust your processes as needed, avoid getting lost in the crowd of partners vying for their attention, and uncover more opportunities for channel growth and improvement.

Channel enablement isn’t just about training sales people. As DocuSign’s strategy above shows, it’s about building relationships and sharing a holistic partner-to-partner enablement strategy to allow teams across the company to execute to the best of their ability.

Tune in to my blog next month to take a deep-dive into the “need-to-know” aspects of each of these enablement pieces and what they look like, with more input from DocuSign content experts.

Share your experiences building a channel with the Microsoft Partner Community here.

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