Let’s be honest here, 2020 has not been … “ideal” … for most of us. Whether personally or from a corporate standpoint, this has been a rough year, and it’s not showing any signs of a quick turnaround. For businesses, particularly those of us in technology, we’ve probably entered into a brand new era that isn’t likely to go away once the danger of a pandemic has passed.
Traditional marketing and selling are getting hit from all sides. In-person events are mostly dead, taking the pipeline they create with them. Conventional content syndication simply doesn’t have the juice to break through the noise in a market plagued with budget cuts, layoffs, and a pervasive “do more with less” mentality. On top of these issues, programmatic targeting and intent signal gathering have become significantly tougher as workers are spread out more than ever, making it more challenging than ever to identify audiences, and signals within those audiences, to target.
While all of this is distressing news for companies that can’t adapt, it’s potentially good news for those who embrace change and start focusing on non-traditional methods for delivering pipeline and gaining prospects’ attention. From companies like Xsolla leveraging “Unreal Engine” technology to build a virtual, interactive carnival for their online event, to the Martech Alliance hosting virtual workout and meditation sessions, we see organizations innovate and adapt to bridge the event gap.
Where we see less innovation and adaptation is around the sales and marketing areas of the business that didn’t see as immediate an impact as the events side of things. This is where doubling down on partnerships comes into play. Instead of attempting to continue doing the same things we’ve always done to increase pipeline, it’s time to take advantage of the fact that, more than ever, individual companies within our martech ecosystem need one-another.
Buyers need to do more with less, and if companies are willing to go big on partnerships right now, they will reap the rewards while others who continue down a path of tradition and isolation will falter. To that end, here are three strategies organizations can leverage to enhance their partner strategy:
- Embrace Integrations:Integrations require resources, multi-organizational buy-in and coordination, and perhaps above all, patience. When executed correctly, they also ensure that all parties involved have “skin in the game” and are invested in each other’s success. With Gartner predicting that by 2022 65% of large organizations will have implemented Hybrid Integration Platforms, the writing’s on the wall: buyers want their systems centralized, easy to use, and effectively communicating with one another. According to Salesforce, when organizations tie their technologies together and work towards a common goal, close rates are up to 2.5x higher, renewal rates are almost 60% greater, and deal cycles get cut in half. Bottom Line: Your company can’t afford to back-burner integrations if you hope to compete in an integrated tech stack environment.
- Leader Summits: Stress levels for sales and marketing leaders are remarkably high right now. With few exceptions, the numbers most of our organizations expected to hit this year are down, and, as discussed above, traditional methods of pipeline creation are faltering. When this happens, tunnel-vision and managerial death spirals of panicked “act now!” thinking can become all too real. Instead of trying to “edit your own work” so to speak, this is an excellent opportunity to regularly pull together leaders from multiple organizations to gain insights, solve problems, and align sales and marketing efforts. Bottom Line: Trusted partners – in life and business – help us identify our blind spots and make us better, so work with one another to grow business together.
- Invest in Your Partner Organization: Granted, this one’s going to sound a bit self-serving but, the fact remains that the vast majority of partner organizations are underfunded, understaffed, and not exceptionally well understood. Now is the time to change that. The partner org is uniquely positioned to help pull various threads of the business together around a common goal. It won’t happen overnight, given budget, patience, and a well-defined set of goals, the partner org will pay dividends. While this last point won’t make me popular with many marketers out there, it’s time to channel some of the budget set aside for traditional marketing programs and events into partner teams and initiatives. By taking advantage of the fact that companies need each other now more than ever, businesses can work together to develop unique co-sell and co-marketing programs that will demonstrate their willingness to work together to build a more cohesive, communicative tech stack. Bottom Line: Focusing on partnerships is an excellent way to overcome the shortfalls traditional sales and marketing efforts are experiencing right now.