Five Demand Generation Best Practices to Help You Build Partner Pipeline

Anita Covelli

Director of Partner Marketing

Two businesspeople at the top of a computer looking at data on a computer.

In today’s uncertain economic climate, B2B technology Partner Marketers are under more pressure than ever to hit aggressive partner pipeline targets while demonstrating ROI. Generating leads isn’t enough – effective follow-up is a must to engage top-of-funnel prospects and convert interest into opportunity.

Partner Marketing executives Angela Motiani (Head of Partner Demand Generation at Klaviyo), Kristina Onyon (Director of Partner Marketing at Cloudflare) and Rachna Gupta (VP of Marketing at HashiCorp) recently sat down with Michael Latchford (GM & VP, Strategic Alliances & Partner Marketing Services at TechTarget) to chat about what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to with- and through-partner demand generation.

Here are five key takeaways from their discussion on Building Partner Pipeline: How to Drive Demand With & Through Partners.

Key takeaway 1: Leverage intent and account-based strategies to improve targeting

Reaching the right audience is crucial to the success of any demand generation program, including co-marketing campaigns. Partner Marketers can improve targeting and, in turn, drive better campaign outcomes by incorporating intent data and account-based marketing (ABM) techniques into their joint go-to-market (GTM) strategies.

Dovetail intent data with sales input to build your target list

Rachna Gupta from HashiCorp recommends that Partner Marketers take the time to understand what type of behavioral signals you’re getting and the source of this intent data. Is it coming from first-party platforms like your own website and CRM, from third-party platforms like TechTarget’s Priority Engine or from another data or ABM vendor, or from a mix of these sources?

Once you have a line-of-sight into where your intent data is coming from, Rachna advises:

“Most accounts, especially in the enterprise, work with partners. Use intent data to understand where each account is in their journey and then align with Sales around the buying intent criteria that matters. Next, map the buying signals that you’re seeing in the intent data with the information you’re getting from sales to build a ‘propensity-to-buy hot list.’”

Personalize your messaging and content based on buyer insights

Rachna continues by stressing the importance of leveraging the buyer insights that intent data provides to tailor your outreach to each target account:

“Once you have your target list, you must personalize content for each account. A cookie-cutter model with a non-curated message for every account simply won’t deliver as much conversion or ROI as a personalized, account-specific approach.”

Use account-based techniques to engage target accounts

After you’ve leveraged intent data to build your target account list and tailor your messaging, Klaviyo’s Angela Motiani recommends that Partner Marketers use ABM techniques to execute campaigns through multi-channel strategies like email, direct mail and paid social.

Key takeaway 2: Involve multiple partners to supercharge with-partner campaigns

We asked our panelists to share what they’ve found most effective when going to market with strategic alliances partners. One thing we heard across the board is that they have seen tremendous success with multi-partner plays – campaigns involving three or more partners (technology vendors, systems integrators, cloud services providers, etc.).

Why does a multi-partner approach work? Because customers aren’t looking to buy point solutions – they want to solve pressing technology challenges and business problems. It’s tough for a vendor to meet customer needs on their own, so being able to work with their ecosystem to build an integrated solution and tell a compelling “better together” story is quite a powerful approach.

Rachna from HashiCorp shares:

“I think the most successful programs I’m seeing are “trifecta” or “multi-partner” because they help you amplify the message and reach a wider audience. This approach allows you to leverage the power of each partner for promotion – driving more eyeballs, filling up the top of the funnel and increasing conversions. As an example, we are running a webinar series with a technology partner and a cloud services provider right now at HashiCorp and we’ve seen 30 to 40% higher registration numbers than our normal campaigns.

An important pre-requisite for a successful joint campaign is building a clear and compelling “better together” story. You can’t sell what you don’t understand, and you can’t market what you don’t understand – it’s critical that each partner is educated on the capabilities of the integrated solution, the problems it solves and its core value propositions.

To help achieve this goal, Angela from Klaviyo suggests bringing a customer into the mix:

“One thing that I have found very helpful when working with multiple partners is to involve a successful joint customer in the campaign. For example, co-host an event or webinar but have a customer speak about their experience working with the partners and the benefits or ROI they have seen from the joint solution.”

Key takeaway 3: Offer packaged campaigns to scale through-partner demand generation

While partner ecosystems are exploding, Partner Marketing leaders aren’t necessarily getting more budget and resources to support a growing number of partners. One approach that helps scale through-partner demand generation is creating self-service, packaged campaigns that offer options where partners can invest their market development funds (MDF).

Our panelists share some great advice to help Partner Marketers build better packaged campaigns that deliver results:

Make it easy

Kristina from Cloudflare stresses the importance of making your packaged campaign as easy as possible for partners of any maturity level to execute:

“Smaller partners may not have a marketing team – they may have three sales guys and 10 technical guys, and marketing is not their forte. They are looking to us to help them build that marketing out. It’s important to organize your programs in such a way that the partners are not just doing a one-and-done, but that they’re nurturing these prospects over time. They may not know what to do and if you leave it up to them to figure it out, they are either not going to do it or they are going to fail.”

Take a holistic approach

Angela from Klaviyo advises that Partner Marketers take a holistic approach when building packaged campaigns:

“Partner marketing is complex. However, our job is to make it easy for our partners. Provide prepackaged campaigns that are easy to plug-and-play. Offer partners an end-to-end experience that brings awareness, enablement and demand generation tools and resources all in one place.”

Give partners the flexibility to customize

Rachna from HashiCorp emphasizes the importance of balancing the structure of packaged campaigns with the flexibility for partners to tailor the campaign for their audience:

“When you build a packaged campaign, remember that there are hundreds of partners that are promoting the same solution. It’s not enough to simply give your partners co-branded material. You must give them guidance on how to execute and teach them how to customize it to make it unique.”

Key takeaway 4: Create a prescriptive follow-up gameplan to drive conversion

Most Partner Marketers are tasked with creating pipeline, not just generating leads. Engaging and nurturing top-of-funnel prospects is a must to drive conversions, but it presents unique challenges for with-partner and through-partner campaigns. Regardless of your go-to-market motion, Cloudflare’s Kristina Onyon reminds us of the importance of effective campaign follow-up:

“Success hinges on staying on top of the leads. The worst thing you can do is run a campaign with a partner and then walk away. You’re just not going to see the return on investment. You need to see it all the way through.”

When going to market with one or more strategic alliance partners, one of the biggest challenges Partner Marketers face is coordinating follow-up across sales and marketing teams. Here are four steps that can help you create more pipeline from with-partner campaigns:

  • Plan and align – Ensure there’s 100% alignment between Marketing, Sales and the partner(s) on the campaign gameplan and who owns lead follow-up.
  • Tailor the messaging – Take time to personalize follow-up messaging based on persona and stage in the buyer’s journey.
  • Build a marketing nurture – Create a follow-up workflow in your or your partner’s marketing automation platform to engage and warm-up top-of-funnel leads.
  • Enable and incent Sales – Train sellers on your joint value proposition, arm them with insights to help them engage and, if possible, offer incentives to drive sales activity.

Kristina from Cloudflare advises:

“I like to use an example of a sales blitz. We do those in everyday life as vendors. But when you bring a partner into the mix, it gets a little bit squishy in some places. It’s a must to get your sales team and your partner’s sales team together ahead of the campaign to make sure they understand the messaging, the joint solution and the game plan. Finally, consider building an incentive model that encourages sellers to make a good number of calls during the call-down day.”

Angela from Klaviyo provides this additional guidance:

“First, be clear on where the data will live, who will have access to it and who is responsible for lead follow-up – it’s critical to have that accountability. Second, carefully craft follow-up messaging using a multi-phase approach that is tailored to the buyer’s journey – you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Finally, equip your sales teams with detailed lead insights and talking points. If you don’t spend the time enabling them on how to manage and follow up on the leads, they’re not going to do it effectively.

When going to market through partners, Partner Marketers often struggle to support partners who have limited marketing and sales resources and expertise. Rachna from HashiCorp shares:

“We find that a lot of the partners are not equipped. They don’t have the marketing resources. Their budget is tight and it’s not a secret. There’s a finite addressable audience and thousands of partners and vendors trying to reach the same people.”

To deal with this common scenario, Rachna recommends that you:

  • Take time to educate your partners on your solution and clearly articulate how they can use it to create value for their customers.
  • Provide step-by-step follow-up guidance and give your partners access to the playbooks, templates, objection handling guidance, etc. that you provide to your own sellers.
  • Motivate and excite your partners by highlighting partner success stories that illustrate how other partners have achieved tangible results by following your recommendations.

Kristina from Cloudflare adds:

“It’s important that we work side-by-side with our partners to understand their unique capabilities and their customers. Empowering your partners is also essential – provide them with the necessary tools, sales plays, and training to help them understand your value proposition and how you can help their customers.”

Key takeaway 5: Streamline and align your KPIs to effectively measure success

Demonstrating campaign effectiveness and ROI is top of mind for many Partner Marketing leaders, but measuring Partner Marketing success is complicated and no one has quite cracked the code. Here is some sage advice from our panel of experts that will help you better prove impact:

Keep it simple

When it comes to measuring Partner Marketing success, Rachna from HashiCorp stresses the importance of keeping things simple. Rather than trying to boil the ocean by tracking 10 different metrics, identify two to three KPIs that really matter, such as the number of leads followed up on, the number of deals registered or the value of closed won sourced or influenced opportunities.

“Measuring pipeline contribution from partners is probably the bane of existence for every Partner Marketer. Keep it simple. Consider a mix of metrics from qualitative (X leads came from this joint program and the partner followed up with X leads) to qualitative (here are three positive steps the partner took that will lead to revenue generation).”

Align KPIs with strategic objectives

Rachna also advises that Partner Marketers align their KPIs with their company’s overarching business objectives:

“KPIs should align to your business objective. If you have a product-led growth (PLG) strategy, you should align your KPIs to this motion. If you are focused on an enterprise sales motion, then think about account-based marketing (ABM) KPIs like account progression.”

Create shared goals with other teams

In addition, Rachna suggests that Partner Marketers create shared goals with their counterparts in Digital Marketing and Field Marketing:

“KPIs also shouldn’t be different for a Partner Marketer versus a Field Marketer or a Digital Marketer. Integrate partners organically, not as an afterthought, and make sure that you set a goal with your own Digital/Field Marketing teams to integrate partners into a percentage of their overall programs and events.”

Think beyond pipeline metrics

While it can be tempting to be laser-focused on campaign attribution, there are other partner behaviors that set the stage for success. Kristina from Cloudflare recommends that Partner Marketers think beyond pipeline metrics and consider KPIs that demonstrate partner engagement:

“When it’s difficult to measure attribution, look at a holistic view of partner engagement – from what they’re doing in the portal to what they’re doing from a deal reg perspective to the trainings they’re taking. Ask yourself: ‘Are there partners that we’re not looking at that are interested, engaged, ready and trained?’ This can help you identify some up-and-comers that you should focus on.”

Define success with your partners

Angela from Klaviyo reminds us that successful partnerships start with a clear definition of what success looks like and agreement on how to measure business impact:

“First, define success together early and often. Don’t operate in silos. Ensure your KPIs align with your partners’ KPIs. Go beyond vanity metrics. Clicks and impressions are nice, but track metrics that matter, like qualified leads, MQLs, and even closed deals. Also, don’t forget about partner enablement metrics and engagement metrics – these are super important as well. And lastly, look at the data and then optimize.”

Learn from other Partner Marketing leaders

Want to up your Partner Marketing game? Join the Partner Marketing Visionaries LinkedIn Group to connect with your peers, learn best practices and share your own expertise and explore the Partner Marketing Visionaries Discussion Series to hear more actionable insights from leading technology Partner Marketing executives.

demand gen, partner marketing, partner marketing ecosystems

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