Markets are down, prices are up, and companies are trying to navigate the uncertainty that plagues their ecosystems. However, even with the bleak economic outlook, brands in all verticals can still drive growth and unleash “demand acceleration,” through effective channel marketing.

As far as successful channel marketing goes, no one knows how to better to jumpstart channel revenue engines better than Meaghan Sullivan, Global VP, Ecosystem Marketing at SAP. After decades leading channel marketing teams and building vast partner ecosystems, Meaghan knows a thing or two about uncovering opportunities in any kind of macro-economic landscape, if given and utilizing the right tools, the right tactics at the right moment.

I sat down with Meaghan, for the second installment of our Channel Waves Podcast to discuss why channel marketers much transform beyond the status quo (especially in uncertain times) and build a better pipeline to increase revenue. Referring to a project SAP collaborated on with the analyst firm, IDC, Meaghan outlined what partners need to understand about the evolution of channel sales and how to adapt to build that pipeline:

Change Consumer Buying Behaviors

Customers are going digital-first, so partners need to evolve accordingly. They need to be ready to deliver a digital experience that customers are demanding and ensure marketing is delivering the right message to the right persona at the right time and place. Data from the IDC/SAP collaboration sheds light on these buying behavioral shifts with 74% of B2B tech shoppers buying more through eCommerce and less through direct salespeople and the customer experience being the #1 influence in those buying decisions. Furthermore, 38% of decision-making information during the purchasing process comes from marketing compared to only 17% from a salesperson.

Engagement Must Go Beyond Sales

Marketing and sales need to align and engage early and often in the buying process. One can’t happen without the other or the effort falls short in today’s channel environment. While technology and operational silos still exist (think incentives, marketing automation and even PRM), a cohesive and collaborative sales and marketing effort can make a meaningful impact in customer engagement and ultimately in revenue generation.  

Effective Marketing Efforts: Content is King

Customer centricity is at the heart of marketing effectiveness, so partners need to focus on content creativity and infusing storytelling into every touch point along the buying journey to drive a more robust marketing strategy. Content must be creative, connected at the right engagement points and built for multi-channel. In fact, 47% of marketing leaders say omnichannel marketing is important to maximize the overall effectiveness of their marketing strategy. And, that effectiveness is being measured not just with marketing KPIs, but by overall business growth. 90% of marketing leaders (compared to 64% of marketing laggards) rate measuring business outcomes as more important than marketing effectiveness, with 88% of marketing leaders revealing that driving business growth is a marketer’s top job.

Capture and Keep the Digital-First Buyer

To ensure that marketing content and solutions are delivering the right message at the right time and in the right place, partners need to maximize their team’s digital and social selling skills, while simultaneously expanding their reach across the customer journey. The customers’ experience directly impacts the buying decision. Therefore, it’s no surprise that 63% of marketers state that persona and journey-centered marketing is more effective for generating demand.

Driving Revenue Takes a Village

I always enjoy my conversations with Meaghan Sullivan. Her insight is always spot on – especially now as channel marketers are looking for ways to break the sales stagnation and find new ways to reach a broader customer base. The combination and congruence of marketing, sales and data science just goes to show that growing revenue in today’s market takes a village – albeit a digital-first, agile and bold village.

Join me for my next Channel Waves podcast as my guest and I explore all things channel and channel marketing.   

Previous episode: The Value of Channel Marketing in a Down Economy series, PART 1.