Effective Communication Strategies for B2B Tech Vendors and Channel Partners 

When B2B tech vendors build and support a channel marketing program, there’s a lot to get right. They have to develop clear rules of engagement to avoid conflicts, create enablement tools and education programs to help partners succeed, and align incentives with the business value their resellers deliver.  

Getting this channel partner communication right requires a balanced approach. You need to respect your partners’ time and not overload them with emails and updates about every new feature or tweak. But they also need to be kept up-to-date and feel supported at all times.  

In this article, we’ll explore how to improve your vendor-partner relationships at every step — from attracting and vetting the right partners to developing effective communication strategies that build trust over time.  

Checklist for Vetting Potential Channel Partners  

Experienced channel marketers know that all partners are not created equal. While you want a robust and active mix of partners for your program, you also need to be selective about who you work with to maximize the value of your Marketing Development Funds 

Develop an ideal partner profile 

Similar to an ideal customer profile, developing an ideal partner profile (IPP) will help you narrow down and articulate exactly what kind of partner would be a good fit in your channel marketing program. Consider the size of their company, the industry or vertical they serve, and the types of customers they support. You can use your IPP to hone in on the partners you’d most like to work with, and prioritize your outreach accordingly.  

Learn who your best customers are already working with 

Consider MSPs and VARs who are already working with your existing customers. They likely have other clients in their network similar to your own ICP, with needs for solutions like yours. Plus, you already have a real-world connection to their organization — so meeting them should be relatively frictionless. When appropriate, ask your customers for an introduction, or reach out directly while referencing your mutual customer.  

Use industry networks and associations 

Many partners are part of industry networking groups or professional associations to help them build relationships and grow their businesses. Becoming an active participant in those groups will help you cement a positive reputation in the channel and encounter new potential partners.  

After you’ve connected with a potential partner and determined you’re interested in working together, it’s time to move on to the vetting process.  

Evaluate technical and sales proficiency 

Look at your partner’s sales experience, training programs, and technical knowledge. Read their case studies and look for relevant success stories. Do they have a proven track record of selling and supporting products at the same level of technical complexity as yours? Do they have existing CRM systems, customer follow-up processes, and sales enablement tools in place to support the longer sales cycles typically associated with high-end products?  

Assess their existing customer base and access to target markets 

Understand who your potential partners are currently working with. Do they have an existing presence that they can leverage to accelerate product adoption in your target market?  

Conduct a reputation analysis 

Research your potential partner’s online reviews, testimonials, news articles, and social media profiles. Are they well-respected by customers and employees? Do they present a professional image that would reflect your brand appropriately? 

Check references with other tech vendors 

Reputable distributors, VARs, and MSPs should be able to provide references from other tech vendors who can attest to their performance as partners.  

Analyze performance metrics 

Request sales performance metrics for products similar to yours, including sales growth, conversion rates, and customer retention rates. 

Understand their sales strategies 

Are they focused on transactional sales, or do they build relationships centered on understanding customer needs? High-end products often require a consultative approach to demonstrate value, so this is an important indicator of their likelihood to succeed with your product.  

Developing Effective Channel Partner Communication Strategies 

Vendor-partner communication has to go beyond introductory training and reactively responding to requests for help. Being available to answer questions from your vendors is a bare minimum — and regular check-ins help build rapport and trust over time.  

But, every partner’s appetite for communication is different. You need to know how to strike the right balance between information overload and absenteeism for each partner in your program. Consider the following steps:  

Craft compelling narratives 

Once you understand your partners’ needs, you can craft compelling narratives that speak to each segment and help them fully comprehend how your products and services can provide value to their customers. This may include: 

  • Aligning your product value with your partners’ own goals, like increasing profitability or penetrating new markets. 
  • Focusing on the why of your product and its unique value propositions that set it apart from competitors.  
  • Using your own customer success stories to provide real-life examples of how your products positively impact customers similar to your partners’. 
  • Including social proof and testimonials from other channel partners to boost your credibility. 

Building and Sustaining Strong, Enduring Relationships 

Channel marketing is a two-way street. For vendors, the ultimate goal of a channel marketing program is to empower and enable partners to confidently tell your brand and product story. For partners, they want a simple, consistent program experience that supports their sales efforts and delivers tangible benefits for both them and their customers.  

For everyone involved, success depends on clear, consistent communication and an enduring relationship built on trust. Here are a few best practices to sustain a strong vendor-partner relationship:  

Treat your channel partners like an extension of your sales team 

Channel marketing is so effective that some organizations have adopted a channel-first model, relying primarily on their partners to bring their products to market. But even if your business includes a substantial in-house sales motion, you shouldn’t treat your partners as second-class citizens. They have the potential to drive significant results, so they deserve significant investment of your time, resources, and support.  

Provide comprehensive training and education 

Education is an absolutely essential and ever-present component of partner engagement strategies. You’ll want to continually train your partners on new features and releases, market insights, and sales tactics that can help them improve their performance.  

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:  

  • Use a mix of training formats to suit different learning styles, including online courses, webinars, in-person workshops, and hands-on product demonstrations when possible.  
  • Offer certification programs and gamified learning experiences to help motivate participation, and validate your partners’ knowledge and skills in selling your products.  
  • Provide interactive content like quizzes, simulations, and real-life scenarios to help partners apply what they’ve learned and retain information.  
  • Create feedback mechanisms for partners, like surveys or interactive Q&A sessions, to provide insights on how your educational programs can be improved. 
  • Foster a community of partners to encourage peer learning and sharing best practices. 

Leverage technology and automation for efficient partner communication 

Segmentation, personalized messaging, multi-channel communications — if this all sounds like a job for automation technology, you’re absolutely right.  

With marketing automation and/or CRM functionalities, you can personalize messages to prospective and current partners with names, reference past interactions or specific situations, or surface recommendations for training or resources. These tools also help you stay on top of partner communications at scale, automating follow-ups and providing timely information and support.  

Use targeted incentives to encourage the sale of higher-end products 

Your partners are businesspeople, and they’re motivated to sell and promote products that offer them the best margins and rewards. Attractive incentive programs and robust education support help keep your products top of mind amongst the many vendors that partners engage with. Consider rewarding partners for achieving milestones like sales targets or training completion, keeping them engaged and motivated throughout lengthy sales cycles.  

For example, Dell Technologies partners receive earnings and rebates based on sales. Channel marketing leaders at Dell say their partners that capitalize on upsell and cross-sell opportunities across multiple lines of business grow faster and see higher margins than partners that don’t — and they communicate that finding to their partners.  

Ask partners for feedback and input 

Your partners are in constant communication with your end customers, and have valuable insights into how they’re thinking about your feature set, your competitors, your roadmap, and your integration with the rest of their tech stack. Provide avenues for your partners to share their feedback — it helps inform your market research and product decisions, and ensures your partners feel valued, heard, and respected as part of your larger team.   

DemandScience’s Role in Channel Partner Engagement 

For channel marketers working to identify and align with channel partners, DemandScience can help in a few key ways:  

Building/Growing Your Channel: 

Our account intelligence and audience targeting capabilities capture and analyze real-time intent data on potential partners. We can help you identify potential partners based on their engagement with content on relevant topics around selling sophisticated technical solutions or working with advanced enterprise vendors.  

With ABM display advertising, we can help you increase brand awareness and provide context for your partnership programs with ideal partners you may want to engage.  

Through content syndication, we can place your highly targeted content across relevant websites and publications that skilled MSPs, VARs, and retailers regularly visit. With our gated content offers and customized landing pages, we can capture contact information and provide qualified leads for your partner program. 

Supporting Your Channel: 

These same capabilities – account intelligence and audience targeting, ABM display advertising, and content syndication – can be used in your channel marketing programs to support your partners’ lead generation and nurturing efforts. You can increase the reach of your partners with highly targeted display ads and content syndication campaigns. With account intelligence and reliable B2B data, you can ensure you’re handing off qualified leads with accurate, reliable contact information.  

By providing resources that improve your partners’ experience and increase their conversions, you’ll build additional trust and strengthen your relationship over time. That may be harder to chart on a graph than sales revenue, but it’s an absolutely essential component to a successful channel partner marketing strategy.  

For additional insights into elevating your channel marketing strategies, explore our guide on Supercharging Channel Marketing, where you’ll find innovative approaches to enhance partner engagement and achieve marketing success.  

Ready to provide more support to your partners and ignite your channel marketing? Learn more about DemandScience for channel marketing, or contact us to see our product in action.