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Deep dive into channel enablement

Margie Gradwohl

Channel enablement is much more than just sales enablement. To enable your channel, you must focus across multiple groups—including your marketing, sales, technical sales, and sales operations teams—all while providing ongoing account management. I’ve compiled enablement advice from Scott Owen, Burke Fewel, and Aaron Burkhart of DocuSign to help you prepare to partner with a cloud provider. These tips should help empower your teams and optimize your channel.

Enable your marketing team

Depending on the size of your company, you may or may not have marketing roles specifically responsible for channel marketing. If you’re a small ISV, you might have a marketing team member who wears many hats. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Map out the channel you want to build. Is your channel going to be a model where you have resellers or other ISVs who work directly with you? Or will it be a two-tier distribution model? Your selection will dictate the marketing materials you build, and whether you market to partners, directly to customers, or both.
  2. Start with marketing fundamentals. Finesse your core value proposition for both your end customers and partners. This is the foundation on which you’ll build marketing content and campaigns.
  3. Determine messaging for your audiences. DocuSign has found it’s important to create messaging for two scenarios:
    1. To-partner messaging. Show partners how your solution helps them be more profitable.
    2. End-user-focused content. Help partners sell and market your solution to their customers.
  4. Be flexible while measuring the success of channel marketing. Your marketing strategy should still have specific goals, such as driving leads or revenue. Aim to measure the success of your marketing efforts, but understand it might be challenging to gather these insights once you release content, deliver campaign materials, or speak on partner webcasts. The key is to maintain partner relationships and share best practices.

Enable sales and technical sales

This section is represented nicely with this equation: Sales = Product + Technical + Pre-sales + Post-sales. Here are the key takeaways for sales and technical sales enablement:

  1. Revise quotas and targets. Incentivize sellers with revised quotas and targets when new solutions are introduced.
  2. Identify the sales team. Work with your new channel partner to identify if a full sales team will be on point or if there will be a designated group.
  3. Optimize content. Make sure you’ve crafted short scenario-based sales enablement content, including potential push-back scenarios, up-to-date FAQ documents, videos, and walk-throughs that are mobile-friendly.

Enable sales operations

This process revolves around preparing the seller or reseller and mapping out the sales process from both the ISV and reseller perspectives. Make sure documentation exists; it’s critical that resellers and ISVs know how to process an order. Spending time refining this process preemptively will save time in the long run.

For resellers new to selling third-party services, make sure they’re prepared for the process internally—including purchasing, billing, invoicing, product delivery, etc. Sticking to your mapped-out plan helps ensure that all the processes meet the standard of “best practice.”

For DocuSign, these changes were time-intensive, but the effort paid off. The company not only established great relationships with their resellers and optimized for scale, but also made transactions smoother from start to finish.

Ongoing account management

Many companies hope to successfully scale. For an ISV like DocuSign, scaling allowed them to stand out in the marketplace and reap the rewards. Reaching this point takes focus, time, and effort to develop the right relationships and tools for your resellers. DocuSign’s most successful partners are those who use DocuSign products, co-develop thorough and impactful business plans, and regularly revisit processes and make improvements.

When we started this engagement with DocuSign, we had no idea that we’d get so much valuable and actionable content to share. It’s important to remember that channel enablement requires your team to understand, prepare, and execute the basics beyond sales enablement. Use the key takeaways from each section above to jump-start your channel.

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