Your Partners Are Listening…. Don’t Bore Them

If you’ve read our articles over the years, you will have noticed we try to make them interesting and informative without overtly promoting our own services. So it feels strange for me to write this article because I will be blatantly promoting our services at the end. Don’t worry – this article is still going to be interesting and informative, and if don’t agree with me, just stop reading before the final paragraph.

The reason I feel I need to do this is that we attend many partner events that are run by vendors, and I have lost track of the number of times that I have either wanted to fall asleep during the presentation or walked out thinking “why did I bother?” With that said, I have certainly seen some brilliant presentations – but those are few and far between. So let’s look at what makes so many presentations to partners fail.

The Problems With Most Partner Presentations To Partners

Giving your product a unique name doesn’t automatically make it unique. – Calling a steering wheel an “Advanced Vehicle Redirection System” doesn’t automatically make it different. In fact I find it frustrating to sit there trying to work out what this thing does that’s different (only to discover it’s not), or to miss the point because it’s buried inside acronyms and fluffy buzzwords. Here’s a little clue … if you need an SE or a White Paper to explain your technology, chances are most partner reps aren’t going to remember you.

Talking to Partners and distributors as if they were users. – This one is a particularly big issue, so I’m going to devote an entire section to it later in this article.

Not being able to concisely and clearly explain your differentiators – I’ve sat through many presentations that demonstrate a “brand new feature” like it’s the first time anyone has ever thought of it. In particular, I get really irked by the presentations that imply this is the first time customers have ever had a solution (as if they have been putting up with 90% spam for the last 20 years until your new firewall was released). If you are genuinely different, you need to spend more time explaining what you do, because your audience is usually jaded and listening with a mindset of “I already know this”.

Cheap audience engagement tricks. – Fake excitement doesn’t work; genuine heart-felt enthusiasm based on an authentic belief in what you’re selling is infectious. Asking your audience to raise their hands to questions just to feel like you’re connecting with them is annoying; posing insightful questions that make your audience think or to help shape the rest of your presentation is engaging. And if you ask a question of an audience and they give you an answer you weren’t expecting, don’t ignore it and continue with your presentation … address it.

The usual PowerPoint pet hates – Fonts too small, too much text, people reading verbatim off the slide, poor colour selection, cluttered slides with data overload, pointless animations and transitions, etc etc. We know these are problems because we’ve all sat through a squillion presentations and been annoyed by them ourselves, but I still see the exact same problems in many of the presentations I attend.

Don’t Talk to Partners & Distis Like End Users

Some time ago, I wrote an article that differentiated between Selling through Partners, not to them. In essence, the difference is that Partners buy product so they can sell it, whereas Customers buy product so they can use it. So teaching a partner all about the features of the product in the hope that they will remember it all and repeat it to a customer later is misguided. For a partner dealing with 30 to 50 vendors, it is not only impossible, but also not what they’re interested in.
Partners want to know:

Who buys your products? -The end-user profile & behaviour.

Why do they buy them? – How the customer uses the product, use case examples that are easy to remember, and interesting applications that have won you business in the past.

How do they buy? – The buyer sales cycle, objections the partner is likely to encounter, is it a primary product or is it part of a bigger solution?

What Gets Them Interested? – What are the issues the customer is likely to have that would make them sit up and pay attention if they thought your product could be the solution?

Why should the partner sell your product? – Can they make more money or have happier customers selling your product rather the competition, or rather than selling something entirely different?

So if all you do is talk about the product to a partner sales rep, they’re probably going to doze off. However, if you don’t talk about the product at all, they will walk out equally nonplussed. The key is to talk a bit about the product, explain what’s useful and why customers want it, and then give an example of it in action that they can imagine in their mind’s eye. Sounds easy … it isn’t. And I know because I’ve sat through enough presentations where the presenter thought they were doing that but completely missed the mark.

The Pitch

Like I said, this is the bit where I talk to you about how Channel Dynamics can help. So if you’re happy with the way your organisation currently presents to partners, that’s great. In fact, please invite me to your next event because I love to see good presentations and I promise I’ll make a mention of you in another article.

But if you think you’re falling into any of the traps I’ve mentioned above, here are three areas where we can help you (I know we can because we’ve done it for a bunch of folks and I can give you a whole lot of references that say we made a BIG difference):

We can…

1. Educate your team on how to present engaging channel presentations to partners that keep them interested and deliver a compelling message.
2. Review your presentations before you deliver them, and provide recommendations on how to have a strong impact and not be immediately forgotten.
3. Deliver a keynote presentation at one of your partner events to add diversity and supporting messages to what might otherwise be a very vendor-biased experience.

If you’re interested in having a chat regarding any one of the three ideas mentioned above, please drop me a line at