B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years ago

57: Getting your Channel Marketing Right w/ Graham Smith


In the highly competitive landscape of cybersecurity, channel marketing should focus on facilitating conversations and building relationships--not pushing agendas. 

Raising awareness among channel partners and end users is only a challenge if your reputation isn't strong

On this episode, I talk about channel marketing with Graham Smith, UK Marketing Lead for F-Secure, a cybersecurity software company. 

What we talked about:

  • 3 solutions to channel marketing challenges
  • Why listening to channel partners is so important
  • How to prove your value without pushing an agenda
  • Scaling partner enablement and facilitating conversations

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You're listening to BB revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executives stay on the cutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome to be tob revenue acceleration. My name is Dan see broke and I'm here today with Graham Smith, UK marketing lead at ff secure. How are you today, Graham? I'm well, Damn you. Yeah, very good. Thank you. It's a sunshining, although it is starting to feel a little bit colder, so I think that's well and truly summer over now, unfortunately, here in the UK. So from today we're talking to you about channel marketing, but before we go into that conversation, you please introduce yourself to our audience and tell us more about yourself, as well as a secure, which is, of course, the company or representing. Sure. So let's start with F secure. We're a cybersecurity company. We have a head office in Helsinki in Finland, and for over thirty years we've been achieving our mission, which is pretty simple. It's keeping people and business safe. So practically we are a software vendor number of security solutions, so top banks, airlines and also smaller and medium companies trustef secure. They've got access to our software and our teams of expert people and we help them to tackle the server that the world's most potent cyber threats. Myself, I'm grahame Smith. I've got twenty years of experience in marketing, of work for small and large companies across a range of sectors. Here at F secure, I lead our marketing in the UK. It's essentially a focus on raising profile among end us of buyers of corporate security, individuals like see sew's and it directors, for example, and also increasing awareness of secure within the channel community in the UK. And so in both instances what we're looking to ultimately do is that the deliver leads pipeline and revenue from our marketing activities. That makes sense and if I'm not mistaken, a secure originally a well, not necessarily originally, but as part of Your Business, have been selling to consumers...

...as well. So I guess for a for a marketing professional that presents some interesting challenges. As a business we've worked with companies like trend micro and malware bites, which have which have come from a similar background. So for you, when you're when you're raising awareness and going to the channel partners and also end users. Is that a challenges as that present is at presenting a different challenge from from your typical be to be organization from birth? I think it's only a challenge if your reputation isn't strong, and I think the one thing I've observed f secure is our reputation is for people know us on the consumer side for having great antivirus software for the for the home, and we have a number of large operator clients in the UK or it's they know us for our corporate solutions and again, as I said, we're trying to keep the sort of world's biggest banks and airlines safe. Think the reputation is really strong. So actually that's that's that helps us. People know us as a corporate or a consumer brand. As long as the F secure brand is strong, I think that's the main thing. And we achieve that globally, which is really strong. Clearly we're wellknown in the NORDICS, but we're starting to increase awareness and revenue frankly, all around the world. Interesting, okay, brilliant. So one of the things that we've recently discussed it a few challenges that that you've come across when executing your channel strategy at at of secure, as well as a solutions that you've put in place from a marketing sales perspective to tackle those challenges. You be great if you could share your experience with our audience around how you solve some of those challenges and also explain. I think you said there's three key lessons really that you've learned from it in dealing some of those channel challenges. Sure so. I think that the first thing that vendors f secure and no different to any other vendor. It's a highly competitive landscape and you are competing for share of voice and Revenue Ultimately with any channel partner and then the the UK channel holistically. So yes, there are a...

...few lessons that I've learned and I think they can be applied to make that difficult challenge slightly easier. So the first lesson would be to clearly segment your your channel base, and that's going to be around your existing on as and also that your prospect ones, the one you want, the ones you want to work with, and then you've got a way of focusing your efforts, because we've all got a limited amount of time and resources. So that might mean you have three groups of partners. You've got your high touch partners. It's a small number of high revenue focus partners that you're going after. Could Be, you know, single single figure numbers. Some high potential partners, perhaps less commercially important, but you're doing some work with them and certainly they may have the potential to and then there's the long tail, typically your your smaller partners, and I think the related lesson here is that all of your partner base can bring you revin you. They're all valuable and important, but it just by segmenting them it means that you can focus your e efforts where they're most likely to get a return. Second Lesson is certainly around listening. Markets are typically holding the microphone when it comes to your organizations communications and it's a kind of privilege but dangerous position to be in at times. It's certainly dangerous if you don't fully understand what the channel wants. You kind of run the risk of being irrelevant and disingenuous. So I think channel markets need to be in the field as much as possible to network with their marketing counterparts working in the channel. But, where possible, meeting with the leadership teams and certainly the sales teams working in the channel. So from a cybersecurity perspective, the questions I tend to ask our channel partners is why do your clients by a secure and why don't they buy us? And I think knowing these answers and listening to them can help you shape future communications and make sure that you win more than you lose. And you know, one of our Focus UK partners goes to market by sector, but I only know that by having a good relationship with their managing director, who also oversees their marketing, and we...

...produced a great report for the finance sector looking at the threat landscape and I sent that to him on a Monday and by Tuesday was on their website. So F secures position as the vendor of choice for their financial services cliently possible by listening and understanding what's relevant to a particular partner. The third lesson for me is around proving value. In my experience, marketing from technology vendors to the channel is often a list of kind of generic, unquantified benefits and at a high level this might kind of read something like drive your business growth by selling our solutions to your customers. And that might be true, but often the detail behind these communications doesn't sort of answer some of their crucial questions. So why should I buy F secure cybersecurity solution it instead of all the other choices I've got in the market? And how much bottom line will I make from this? So it's really kind of understanding. Is the quantified commercial opportunity from a partnership with F secure and kind of in conclusion, how how valuable can you be to me? So I think that proof of values really important and I think if you're marketing doesn't answer those key questions, and it is quite a challenge to do so, it's not easy, you should still be asking yourself, is there more I can do to achieve kind of important shift in mindset. What I mean by that is the current mindset among vendors is sometimes, you know, we've got to keep telling the channel how great our technology is. Think that needs to change. So the channel is instead saying to its venders, you know what, I've got a great customer for you and I think I want to deliver a solution for them. Lit let me tell you about them and let's go on that journey together on win that win that client. But you can only do that, you canly have that mindset if the channel truly understands the value that your salutes everybody. Yeah, interesting. There's some interesting points there and I think if I look at that first point you just made around its segmenting your partner base, I think some of the challenges when it comes from from a marketing perspective, to your point is,...

...if you're a if you've if you've got a large channel network, if you've got a lot of partners, it's really realistically you you cannot support every single partner with either marketing activities or marketing funds or, indeed, if you go one step further from a sales perspective, a partner account manager is it's impossible to do that from a from a sort of marketing perspective at f secure. When you said meant those partners. Do those partners get different levels of a maybe not a tension, but whether it's co funding, marketing activities or support or opportunities dread DRIPP Fed to them? How do you sort of decipher how much support you give each of those different levels of partner? They do simply we have a global partner program it's platinum, gold silver. So it's relatively, I think, traditional and understood by the channel and yes, it gives them different levels of benefit, largely related to to revenue. So how much, how how kind of financially important are they? That the really important message that we share with the channel, whether it's in the UK or anyone else for that matter, is that they're valuable to us. We are absolutely a channel business and all levels of partner gets gets benefit and gets value from the relationship, whether it's Co marketing funds which are available at certain levels, or just simply having a point of contact within within the UK or the market they operate in, or access to our content. We've also got a partner porter where it makes it really easy for our partners to self serve and get pricing and effectively registered deals really efficiently. So we understand the channel, we're passionate about it and try and make it as easy as possible for them to be commercially successful alongside us. Yeah, and I think that's really important because what you've just described there around how you actually support partners of all sizes. It's just varying levels of support of course, sort of links to that third point around proving value to the channel and actually getting your channel partners to buy...

...into wanting to sell your solutions rather than you pushing your solutions down the throat. I think that why that's important. It's particularly in a space that that they're secure in around that endpoint security, anti virus type type area. It is, of course, a saturated market and when you think about the other eight or ten or fifteen vendors that would all be trying to do the same, I guess if they're, if f secure have a channel model which is proving or providing value to partners all sizes. It does helped to do to solve that challenge you mentioned in the third point, which is getting them to select you as a partner of choice for their for their end user. One of the things that we see is a challenge, of course, is enabling partners of all types to leverage your content, the vendor content, messaging, branding and demand generation initiatives with consistency in the local markets is critical to driving driving sales success. Of course, each partner operates independently and in their own way and have different sales marketing processes, different strategies on how to get there, which means partners will need to be enabled in different ways, will be at with some consistency. We spoke a bit of prior to this around how you can scale or how you do bring enable those partners. So from your perspective, how how do you go about scaling partner enablement when they'll have so many different requirements based on their size or revenue or region or current strategies? Yeah, this is a really good but complex question that all all channel markets here should be thinking of out I'll try and simplify my answer by making it deliberately short. You can really scale partner enablement by having a number of one to one marketing communications, almost account base marketing or ABM for the channel, and a number of one to many aations. That way you can be personal but also provide marketing support that can be accessed by all of your channel partners, whether they're big or small. So your one to one marketing communication could be something like a specific co branded landing page with an ability for any leads...

...to go direct to the crm or our crm flagged for that particular channel partner, and that's something that we that we do and works well. And then the one too many communications. I think one that again works particularly well with the channel a webinars so you can give updates on commercial developments with your products, which ff secure is pretty good at offering commercial incentives for choosing ff secure or the classic we've got a new product or we've enhanced some functionality within an existing product. That means differentiator against the competition. I think that's a really good one too many communication again is popular with our UK channel partners. So I think that, in that way, and those one to one is one too many communications, that blend can make sure that you are able to scale, scale partner enablement. Okay, interesting, and that that actually is a nice segue really into my next question, which was talking there about one to one or building one to want to fewer, one too many relationships. And we've actually recently seen an article from forester that suggest channel marketers or marketing professionals in general need to become community markets, which is all about, you know, getting the brand out there amongst your peers that will then, of course, want to utilize your solutions and and and shift more of your solution. What are your thoughts on that? Idea that that channel marketers need to become community marketers. Yes, I'd agree with that. It's certainly part of the role of a channel market. Being part of a channel community allows you to listen and interact with a relevant audience, and I would certainly for this on markets. Using communities to listen actually, rather than just a purely about thinking about participating in them. Thinking to our F F secure as a tendance at infosect in London this summer, which brings together a large security audience. The channel spot partners that we spoke to gave us good insight about the problems they are encountering relate to cipher security solutions for their clients, and knowing their pain...

...is really helpful and as absolutely informed our channel marketing content as a result. Another point I'd like to make a tea marketing is that brands don't actually have to say anything in this context. Just facilitating and amplifying conversations between a relevant community of peers can can work. In a previous marketing role, actually created a HR leaders for him, and all that we did was to organize round table events and then right up what was discussed by the participant. What you had was views on topics like recruitment or coaching from really experienced, well informed board level HR professionals, and the brand that I was working with didn't really add its own content or pollutions, but the perception was that we were part of this really high level conversation from an important community and that's really great for your brand reputation and I think that these kind of things can work really well with the channel. To good example of this is from softcap, who one of our channel partners in the UK. They run a point of tech event that facilitates to discussions amongks, among their target marketing a group of cteos. Okay, interesting. Yeah, and I think to your point there around your the event that you previously put on with HR leaders. That's it's an interesting idea. Actually, as a company operatics, typically we deal with people in your positions, are marketing or sealed leaders, and actually we recently put on, just a few weeks ago, an event at Chard in London. The idea was not to pitchure operatics. We did not talk about operatics, but it was a sort of panel led the event where there was three individuals that were two individuals in a moderator on the panel and we got together probably a room of two thousand and twenty five marketing professionals. The idea behind that was again not to talk about operatics. Actually the conversation with mainly around ABM. But it was really interesting because what quite quickly developed in that in that event, was that the panels stopped talking too much between themselves and actually the the audience started really participating, asking questions and and and conversing with each other.

And by the end of it it was like the event actually overran because the marketing professionals were just talking mongs themselves, not without control, obviously everyone was participating, but well, we really came out of that event, where was with an idea that actually to your point, it's just about stimulating conversation between like minded professionals and not really just pushing, pushing your solution or your service down there, down their throat, and probably what came out of that was them saying to each other and to themselves that operatics are part of that community and and I think that's that's a general concept. I guess my last question would be around how to make the best use of the type services that operatics offers, just meant touched on us there and just provide some some audience, some context to the audience. We actually support F secure in their pipeline generation activities. So we work with Graham and our rollers to directly support his sales team by providing them with qualified sales opportunity so they can progress a sales process to the point of to the point of revenue. Graham and I was talking before this the relationship going well, which is pleasing to hear, but it's also an important part of their efforts with their channel partners and their relationships with their ant partner so they can see a quicker results from from a sales perspective. Grammar. Just a last some last thoughts from you around this. Could you please share with our listeners why you think that sort of end use a pipeline generation piece is a part of your strategy and and and where you see the value of it, whether that's directly with yourselves team or or in the channel? Sure the context here is that senior technology professionals like see saws and it directors and notoriously hard to speak to and therefore the more points of contacts and the more conversations that we have with this audience, the more successful we are at creating pipeline and closing deals, frankly, and certainly operatics helps us to do that. So they are you guys are very strong at getting opportunities...

...with with end users and opportunities to speak to them. And as we're exclusively channel business in the UK, in order to deliver any solution to to an end user, to a C so or an IT director, we need a partner, a channel partner, to work with us. As a result, and with the channel being fundamental to F secures growth success here in the UK, to be able to introduce end use, a lead to the channel and go on a journey with them and win that business is kind of critical to our continued success. So the work that you're doing, as well as will the other marketing efforts that we do to drive leads and ultimately revenues, is is really important and you for your continue support. Excellent. Well appreciate. The inside Seagram really appreciate that you've taken the time to share your thoughts, not only on scure and your channel business, but also, lastly, on operatics. If anyone wants to connect with you to learn more about a secure or yourself or continue this conversation offline? What would you suggested being the best way to get in touch with you and the business? So F secure, check out our website, which is f scurecom. And in terms of getting in touch with myself, Graham Smith, you can find me on Linkedin. Excellent, cool. All right. Well, many thanks once again, Graham is. It's been a pleasure having you on the show today. Thanks Dan, thanks for having me. operatics has redefined the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building and managing inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening to be tob revenue acceleration. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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