As a B2B Channel Marketing Agency, we’re very interested in the latest stats and trends that reflect the vendor and channel partner dynamic. Our clients often ask us about best practices and stats as they can be helpful when building a business case or when trying to create change within their company.
To help you keep pace with some of the latest data in B2B channel partner marketing, we’ve compiled a list of 20 intriguing statistics and charts from recent studies (there’s a lot of outdated info in many of the lists that we researched!)
These data points cover top business challenges for channel partners, partner/vendor engagement, partners use of Marketing content and platforms, use of MDF funds, changes in the tech ecosystem and vertical specialization.
Top Business Challenges for Channel Partners
IT services providers often look the same as their peers. Differentiation can be done through strong marketing that paints a clear picture on how a company can solve buyer needs. Unfortunately, creating this differentiation has been a struggle.
1. 69% aren’t able to differentiate offerings from competition or status quo (360Insights Slideshare, SiriusDecisions Command Center, 2018)
2. 72% aren’t able to connect offerings to buyer needs and challenges (360Insights Slideshare, SiriusDecisions Command Center, 2018)
3. 65% have poor content quality or simply can’t find the content (360Insights Slideshare, SiriusDecisions Command Center, 2018)
As the old saying goes, kids don’t grow up fantasizing about becoming a channel marketer. In fact, many are simply asked to take on the role. Since there’s very little formal training for channel marketers, most partner enablement and engagement programs are not optimal. This is why CMOs report partner enablement is the top channel marketing skill they intend to enhance within their marketing organization. (SiriusDecisions)
5. 73% of partners say vendor channel programs are too complex (360Insights - 2112 Group: Ease of Doing Business Report, 2019)
6. If a partner doesn’t start to market and sell your offering within the first 90 days of recruitment. It’s highly likely that it never will – (SiriusDecisions, 2016)
Partners Use of Marketing Content and Platforms
The conundrum that many channel marketers face is that their partners don’t have the abilities to create good content on their own. This is often due to a lack of resources and skillsets. So vendors often will create content and marketing kits for partners to use. However many partners are disappointed with what they’re receiving from vendors.
7. 84% of the partners did not have a dedicated marketing resource (Zift Solutions - SiriusDecisions Summit Highlights, 2019)
8. Fewer than 15% of partners engage in the marketing programs their vendors deliver (DemandGen Report, 2019)
9. 53% of partners viewed existing content provided by vendors/manufacturers as mediocre or worse. However, 75% of partners in the same study ranked content as important. This means partners recognize the importance of content, but aren’t happy with the quality they’re receiving from their vendors. (A Fluent Vision: State of Partner Marketing Report, 2018)
10. 33% ranked customization of assets as most important. Data sheets, infographics, and other content, like whitepapers and eBooks were the second most important type, but customization of assets was viewed as over 1.5x more important than the content itself. (A Fluent Vision: State of Partner Marketing Report, 2018)
11. While the use of vendor-supplied TCM (through-channel marketing) systems remains low, with only 12% of the respondents currently engaging with them, more partners are taking a closer look. According to the report, 20% of partners are evaluating the tools and another 35% are piloting them. (OneAffiniti: Survey of 100 IT brands and channel partners by Forrester Consulting, 2018)
Marketing Budgets and Use of MDF Funds
SiriusDecisions makes the case that high performers are putting more budget towards channel marketing and MDF. But throwing money at a simply doesn’t always solve it. High performance marketers are also applying ‘corporate marketing’ principles such as creating content and programs for multiple partner personas. Most companies just focus on the partner salesperson. The successful vendors are also engaging executives, marketers and the technicians with better training and enablement.
12. High performers allocate 17% of their total marketing budget to channel marketing (SiriusDecisions, 2019)
13. High performing organizations invest 23% more in MDFs than low-growth organizations (SiriusDecisions, 2019)
14. 62% of high performers have some form of ongoing partner enablement in place for multiple partner personas (SiriusDecisions, 2019)
15. 60% of market development funds (MDF) are not used on a quarterly basis (Zinfi, Worldwide channel survey)
16. The number one complaint of partners is that vendors are too slow to reimburse for co-op and MDF marketing activities the partners engage in. The current best practice for payment is generally accepted at around 21 days or less, but the real leaders are finding ways to deliver in 14 days or less. (360insights & PartnerPath)
Looking Ahead: Changes in the Tech Ecosystem
The world is changing quickly for IT service providing partners and the successful ones are adapting. New cloud-based technologies and customer demand are forcing the change.
17. Only 50% of the reselling partners had a plan to move to the cloud — with 42% of the partners admitting they didn’t know where to start (Zift Solutions - SiriusDecisions Summit Highlights, 2019)
Services/Solutions Offered and Vertical Specialization
Partners are evolving to offer more managed services and SaaS solutions. They are also becoming more specialized, with verticals expertise proving to be an area of differentiation.
18. 64% of firms expect their mix of offerings to change to new types in the next two years, 22% of firms expect no change in their portfolio and 14% of firms do not yet know (CompTIA’s 7th Annual state of the channel report, 2018)
19. Top 5 Solutions/Services Driving Revenue Last 2 Years (CompTIA’s 7th Annual state of the channel report, 2018)
1. Managed services (33% of respondents)
2. Software as a Service (32%)
3. Application development (26%)
4. Security infrastructure/application services (26%)
5. Consulting (23%)
20. 45% and 42%, respectively of large and mid-sized firms attribute more than half of their revenue in the last fiscal year to projects related to vertical industries, compared with 31% of smaller channel firms that report the same (CompTIA’s 7th Annual state of the channel report, 2018)