Jen Spencer is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Phoenix-based Allbound, a partner sales acceleration software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that simplifies an organization’s ability to recruit, onboard, measure and grow channel partners.

Here Jen discusses the importance of collaborative relationships between business partners and how companies can improve communication and boost sales. Read on:

Tell us about Allbound. What services do you offer?
Allbound helps its customers grow faster, more predictably and with lower costs with a single SaaS toolset for partner training, content marketing, collaboration and customer success.

What are the biggest challenges or pain points your clients come to you with? How do you help them?
Indirect sales reps have typically been treated like ugly stepchildren. Allbound puts the right content (not one-size-fits-all) in front of its customer’s indirect sales reps and enables them to educate, engage, and, ultimately, drive more revenue from a previously disconnected sales team.

How has the relationship between the companies that make the products and the companies that sell the products evolved over the past decade?
The sales landscape has changed and buyers are more educated than ever before. Sales reps of all kinds are feeling the pain of trying – unsuccessfully – to get to decision makers. They know the hunt for the “A” lead is over, and they know they need to do something about engaging with their end-customers in order to accelerate sales.

Why is it important that companies develop more collaborative and supportive relationships with their distributors and resellers?
The fastest growing, most efficient businesses aren’t collections of siloed business units, but rather ecosystems of always connected, continuously interacting people and components. Businesses can gain speed and efficiency when working together to deliver more value and a better experience for their prospects and customers.

What seem to be the most common roadblocks to collaborative relationships between these two sides?
In its own words, partner relationship management (PRM) software was developed in the 1980s to help channel managers “take complete control” over their partners. More than three decades later, PRM has deteriorated into a dumping ground for overcomplicated processes, outdated content and inefficient tools – hindering partners rather than empowering them. Now isn’t the time for the evolution of an outdated tool. It’s time for the revolution with a fresh and modern way of doing things.

What are the biggest mistakes you see companies making in their interactions with resellers?

  • A continued focus on overcomplicated channel processes and hardware-first strategies that fail to meet the needs of SaaS platforms or the subscription economy.
  • An ongoing reluctance and inability to recruit and/or build a culture that attracts forward-thinking Millennial and Generation Z business leaders to the profession.

How can companies not only improve their relationships with resellers, but also help instill their values and vision with them?
I think Tiffani Bova of Salesforce said it best: “You have to be much more agile, transparent and collaborative with your partners and your customers. [Let go of] your old way of thinking and start thinking differently about how you’re going to solve their problems. The essence of collaborative partnership is for all parties to mutually benefit from working together.”

Could you share an anecdote or a success story of a customer who took an especially innovative approach to improving collaboration with their resellers?
One of our customers is in an extremely complex, highly technical market, and rather than keeping their partners separated from each other – which is the more traditional approach – this company is encouraging communication and collaboration among its partners. They are sharing best practices, swapping ideas, and building off of each other in ways that are mutually beneficial for all involved. They are learning and growing together as part of one connected ecosystem.

What have you found are the most useful tools in motivating and empowering resellers and distributors to boost sales?
At Allbound we believe in incentivizing the sales and marketing behaviors that our customers know will lead to better customer engagements – taking training, sharing content on social media, registering deals, collaborating with other partners to provide better service for customers, etc. This can be done through monetized programs, or also through gamification where reps earn points for completing certain sales and marketing-related activities.

Ultimately, you have to analyze your partner personas and identify the types of incentives that will matter most to them.

What piece of advice do you find yourself repeating to clients over and over?
You’re more likely to choke than you are to starve. Start small. You don’t need to do it all at once. Show your partners you are continually investing in them by rolling out program enhancements and technology features and training them to take advantage of them rather than overwhelm them right out of the gate with a massive offering.

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