Partnership and alliance models will continue to evolve in our post-Covid and cloud-based world. Usually and so far, go-to-market models have been mainly either direct or indirect, with the indirect channel model being one or two-tier, one-tier is reaching customers through reseller, and two-tier is selling through distribution. 

We asked Dominique Vanhamme about the emerging third-tier approach. 

What does a three-tier channel look like in a digital-first market?

The third-tier model integrates the cloud and connecting digitally with the customer. 

In this evolved model, the cloud impact means including the virtual touchpoints, increasing the speed of interaction and dealing with the networked nature of the go-to-market. Also, the third-tier’s goal is to increase the personalized and human interactions while increasing relevance of the solutions offered.

Basically, third-tier is evolving the partnership from linear models -from the solution provider getting on the market through the partner reaching for the end customer- into an echo chamber of networked touchpoints in order to promote more effectively the provider’s brand and solution.

Third-tier go-to-market is also about building a fluid continuum of customer-focused interactions, including face-to-face, virtual, social media and remote contacts and influences.

For solution providers, this relates to improving the go-to-market efficiency, extending brand recognition and adding customer acquisition.

What are some of the changes you expect in partner marketing this year?

Partner Marketing is a critical subset of channel programs and it touches on marketing campaign, demand generation, customer engagement, and brand recognition. 

Just like when internet emerged 20 years ago and changed our world since, cloud-based and third-tier -based programs will change partner marketing. 

Marketing and go-to-market will be a lot more data-centric, with a variety of touchpoints data coming from multiple sources and going beyond the sales rolodex or the business transaction data.

It will be a lot more machine-learning driven as customer knowledge will increase and the touchpoints intelligence will help understand customers better.

It will also be a lot more digital being driven by more virtual and remote interactions and by personal influences.

Solution provider can gather so much more the data and intelligence about their customers, as the touchpoints are increasing across business transactions, phone calls, chats, emails, and social media interactions. This in turn ultimately serves new programs and campaigns for improved customer loyalty and for more customer acquisition.

Where will some of the challenges be?  

Challenges lying ahead in these matters will reside in three areas. First, it’s recognizing the new digital touchpoints company entry points and who can handle them. At this stage, if you are still without online transaction or online help capabilities, you are indeed in trouble. 

Then, from a marketing and go-to-market point of view, the challenge lies in coordinating the data collection, the data handling and the data treatment, turning all of those into customer intelligence. 

Finally, it’s about change management, with the will to have updated channel programs, the culture to embrace a brave new digital world all across and about applying cloud-based efficiency.

What are some key takeaways from 2020? 

We will look back at 2020 as a significant reset button, with the twin tips of digitalization and remote working of an iceberg of deep-rooted slower changes.

As we already live our personal lives in a global village, we will see our professional lives evolve into an even more interconnected global economy where distance is only a relative measure but go-to-market is not.

For partner managers and marketeers, this means two trends among others. 

It means that the way buyers are guided and influenced at professional level is blurred with the influence from being a consumer. With remote working, the professional and personal worlds have collapsed : both are accessible through the same screen and personal experiences bridges those two worlds. Think of a wireless headset as an example of blended influence : bought for personal music and used for professional online meeting. 

This 2020 reset button also means that the digital transformation will lead to influence transformation, through the variety of new touchpoints. In other words, customer presence is not anymore met only with physical face-to-face and scheduled interaction. But personal influence, brand evaluation and offering assessment are achieved instead through a vast series of touchpoints across sales, post-sales, supply chain and support, admin or finance interactions. Customer experience will indeed have new meaning.

How we work with Dominique 

At Six Revolutions, we are betting that thought leadership needs to extend into channel-led conversations. This includes making thought leaders available for the channel, and also identifying and nurturing thought leads within channel partners. Together with Dominique, we are developing tools for brands and channels to better deploy thought leadership in a programmatic way. 

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