The no-so trusted advisor

About a month ago, I attended a LinkedIn Live to listen to the latest that Jay McBain from Canalys had to say. I started taking notes for my team, and in the end, couldn't scribble fast enough and told them all to take the 29 minutes themselves to listen.

Kristal Jamieson, Founder of One Little Seed

About a month ago, I attended a LinkedIn Live to listen to the latest that Jay McBain from Canalys had to say. I started taking notes for my team, and in the end, couldn't scribble fast enough and told them all to take the 29 minutes themselves to listen.

As I've percolated on this session and the insights Jay shared, it only reinforced what we've been telling our clients (and potential clients) for a while.  

Being a 'trusted advisor' isn't a unique selling proposition

Trusted advisor is a phrase our industry loves. Another one is 'single throat to choke'. And I admit, six years ago, I was guilty of totting out the line whilst in vendor land. Who wouldn't want one vendor who could do it all? These days a customer has SEVEN partners that they trust.  

We're seeing the landscape shift towards supporting this market dynamic with partners specialising in specific technologies and even subsets of technology.  

What does this mean for you if you're one of the seven? It means that your value proposition needs to be exceptionally strong. It means that you can be more easily held to account as there's likely another partner plugging into your stack for their service delivery. If you're not delivering, they're going to point it out.  

You also need to be adding more value to your relationships.  

Why a content strategy and well-designed website are key 

Recently we touched on Gartners B2B buying cycle. Canalys takes this even further when they delve into the 28 unique moments prior to vendor selection. Tellingly, 24 of these moments involve the partner. More often than not, our conversations with partners start with addressing their foundations.  

  • What is your unique value proposition? 
  • What is your clients' website experience? 
  • Development of your content strategy 

The B2B buying cycle strongly mimics the B2C cycle now in terms of online experience. Are you adding value to your relationships through content? Are you providing information that helps them at the right time?  

Without these foundations firmly in place, there is a multitude of relationships that will not be successful. Our relationship with you as your marketing partner, your potential relationship with a new customer, and the ongoing relationship with your existing customers. 

I'm not going to sugarcoat it. To see an ROI on marketing investment when we build these foundations, it's 9-12 months. Sure, there might be some quick wins and bluebirds. But it's as everyone has heard me say, 'there's not a silver tap, and if there were, I'd be drinking pina coladas in the Bahamas'. 

The customer experience (CX) starts online these days. It's like getting dressed for that crucial meeting in the morning. First impressions count. People will race through your site, looking for that essential information. They'll move on to the next potential partner if they can't find it easily. Think about customer use cases or stories. What business issue does your solution solve? What trends do you see in the market? Tell a story succinctly.  

Quarterly MDF is not always your friend 

Vendors are now looking towards their partners more for demand generation. However, they're expecting short-term results, which, as the digital space becomes saturated (and more expensive), presents a challenge to the partner to show these results.  

Coming back to Canalys' statistic of 28 unique moments, there isn't a quality way to deliver these (and SQL) within three months.  

I'd love to see a vendor take a long-term approach to partner investment rather than looking at who's making the biggest promises every quarter. I've seen one vendor give this a good nudge and commit to a six-month plan with a few partners, and it's delivered 40% growth year on year for that vendor for two years in a row with a partner we've engaged with. 

The requirement for customer touch trackers is the default standard for measurement when it comes to vendor MDF. When you look at the stats around the gating of content – the numbers are stark 

  • 47% will never give up their details or give false details 
  • 23% will try to find the content elsewhere and only give up their details if they can't find it (I'm guilty of this) 
  • 30% will give their details if the content is valuable enough 

So this begs the question – what's more important, 100% of people can read your content and progress through the funnel? Or capturing 30% of total names?  

This meme made its way into our internal group chat, showing which side of the fence we sit on. 

How about just measuring partner growth year on year as a metric? We've got one client whose dwell time on site is five minutes. That's amazing! But to a vendor, it doesn't tick their box for success.  

Retention is often overlooked.  

Another vendor metric is net new logos. However, it's widely known that the cost to retain is 5 – 25x LESS than acquisition. I get it. Everybody is chasing growth. Meaning your competitors are chasing your clients for their growth. You can build revenue from within your client base through cross-selling and referrals. Word of mouth is still a fantastic tool. If you look after your existing clients well, they'll share your name with their network. This is demonstrated with executive roundtables being an activity that delivers results – hearing where your peers are succeeding and learning from their lessons is invaluable.  

How do you add more value to your existing client base? As experts in our fields, we're always reading content. We're upskilling ourselves. Share that knowledge, whether that's a personal email, to a client you know would be interested in an article. Introduce like-minded leaders to each other, aka someone who has potentially addressed a problem another one is facing. Don't look at this through the lens of what will benefit you. Look at what will be valuable to your client in general terms.  

What's the single message here?  

Give something for nothing. Don't become that person that only calls when they want something.