The word channel. It means a lot of different things to different people but we can probably agree that it involves a producer, a distributor of some kind, a reseller of some description and an end customer.
This linear model has existed for years but what people tend to forget is the surrounding services that are incorporated into this model.
In a traditional model we have:
Vendor → Distributor → Reseller → End customer
Or variation around this.
Looking at the bigger picture, at any level in the structure we can have surrounding companies that feed the growth of this model.
Today we are going to look at 5 company types that can plug in at any level of the chain.
Lead Gen Companies
We’ve worked with them before at previous vendors when we have provided MDF for distributors to work with an external company to run telemarketing campaigns.
Fast forward to the modern day and the world is packed full of companies that do outsourced lead generation.
Why is the market so full of these companies?
Low barrier to entry with automated tools to prospect in 1000’s of accounts every month.
These companies can be utilised for lead generation at all tiers of the channel. Whether it’s the vendor that activates it to generate leads to feed the channel or the distributor who runs a direct touch lead gen campaign for their specific region or the reseller who outsources their sales, it all culminates in the same result. More leads for the channel.
Not a day goes by that we don’t receive a prospecting message from a lead gen company.
Is it worth outsourcing this?
We’ve had good results in the past when running regional level lead generation campaigns via distributors. The cost can be lower than employing a full time SDR for a specific region and can be started and stopped at intervals.
The market is flooded with choices of lead generation companies so make sure you do your research or you may just be paying for a $50 a month licence of something that automates outreach for a significantly higher price through this company. Find one that is actually making touch points with the prospects. Telemarketing campaigns used to be great because you know it’s a human doing the work and there is somebody there to follow up.
Business process outsourcing companies are vast. From major international companies such as Concentrix and Teleperformance to smaller regional level players, there is a lot of choice.
BPO companies take a department from a company and run it on their behalf. Think about a call centre.
The fact of the matter is that major software companies use these BPO’s to house support teams, pre-sales teams, customer service and lead generation.
They are used by vendors as big as Microsoft, Cisco, Apple, HP and Facebook as well as smaller vendors.
The salaries are much lower than employing people direct, the BPO generally has offices in multiple different countries and it gives access to talent that isn’t under contract from the vendor.
BPO’s can be used by all tiers of the channel and plugged in relatively quickly.
They come with trainers, managers and agents all packed into one bill. All you have to do it train the trainer and monitor KPI’s from a distance.
It’s a very competitive market where contracts are won and lost at a regular basis.
When a lead is created for one of these companies using a BPO, it’s the staff here that are qualifying it, entering it into the CRM and passing it to a partner. Channel lead generation the cheaper way!
Another service that’s added into the channel on a regular basis and another one that has new companies cropping up constantly is the marketing agency.
There are lots of generalist marketing agencies in the market now who claim to be experts at social media, direct marketing, SEO and PPC ads. The low barrier to entry for these types of companies makes it an easy one to spin up.
Then you have the niche player marketing agencies that focus on things like channel marketing where they create and manage campaigns that are run through partners, with partners or for partners. They can be plugged in at any level of the chain and allow the vendor, distributor and partner to concentrate on what they are good at.
Whether it’s content creation, campaign management for partner recruitment or end user marketing, these are the guys for the job.
We’re seeing more of them come to market now with the world being focused on social media and digital content creation.
One often overlooked service within the channel are the translation agencies.
So you’ve created your campaigns, have your content and want to reach out to new markets, how do you do it?
You need localised content that resonates with that specific audience. Either the marketing agency outsources the translation or the company that ordered the content in the first place outsources it to a translation agency and has them translate their material for use in different regions.
Isn’t the distributor supposed to handle translation?
If you are using distributors, they may be able to do this in house but what if you are working 1-tier with no speaker of a certain language in house?
You plug in those translation agencies who are able to translate your assets.
The last one we are looking at today is the channel consultant. These are becoming more popular these days with many outsourcing companies offering fractional channel chiefs or similar.
We know several companies that act in this capacity and offer services from channel process building all the way to channel partner recruitment and management.
It’s all part of the ecosystem.
It’s not out of the ordinary for one person to be working with 3, 4 or even 5 vendors at a time by providing vendors with part time channel building services.
Added on at vendor level typically but with MSP’s and resellers starting to blur the lines between vendor and partner, they are opening up to working at all levels.
The lines are becoming blurry and everything is becoming connected in a spiders web rather than a linear approach. External companies are being slotted in at every tier of the channel.
We’ve missed out a lot of the obvious here such as outsourced legal, accountancy, affiliates, referrals and influencers which we have covered in previous articles.
What outside agencies do you work with to accelerate your presence?