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David Abramowski

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The 3 “what’s” of a great channel enablement program

“It’s time to get personal” exclaimed one of the sales reps.  ”We have to put ourselves in the reseller’s shoes and show them exactly why we stand out and why they should sell our solution.”  Those comments kicked off a tremendously productive meeting between the sales and marketing teams while I was onsite last week with a Zoomstra.com client.  The cross-functional team agreed that we needed to take a fresh approach to partner enablement and make it much more personalized than they had ever done before.

To start out, the team decided that the enablement program would be focused on the top 3 questions the channel partner’s account execs want to know…

  • WHAT’s in it for me?
  • WHAT do I need to know?
  • WHAT will help me win?

With this new direction in mind, the team was able to break free from the typical spray and pray training so often found in enablement programs.   And since the team had selected Zoomstra.com and our zWorkbook approach as the vehicle for partner enablement we had a great match.  The customer’s team set off to answer each of the three “What’s” so that we could then create  actionable zWorkbooks to be shared across the entire partner channel.

In the first workbook entitled “What’s in it for me” we used this opportunity to sell the partner account executive on why they should represent the software to their clients.  We defined the business proposition for the partner sales rep.  We explained how the solution allows the rep to capture a segment of business they weren’t addressing. We outlined how the new solution enables the partner rep to improve their existing relationships and how they will make more money from it all.  We crafted 4 lessons in a zWorkbook that provided the context and supporting materials including an existing video that outlined the business problem.

The second question we answered was “What do I need to know?”.  For the partner sales reps, knowing the landscape and knowing how to set the agenda are crucial for success.  The team looked at all of the existing sales tools and digital assets that the marketing team had at its disposal. We then outlined a workbook with the basic information needed by an account executive and then determined which items supported the partner in setting the agenda and talking with their prospects.

Finally we answered the question “What will help me win?”.   This is where the beauty of experience came through for the client.  The sales team in the room had a treasure trove of best practices, examples and processes that have made their own team successful over the past year selling the solution.  We captured all of that experience and pulled together details into a zWorkbook. We included lessons that could be executed on their own with step-by-step checklists and supporting documents and materials.  We created lessons like and “introductory email campaign” complete with list pull details and example email letters. Once we had the outline and the concept the rest of the details came together quickly.  We completed the first set of zWorkbooks in the past few days and we are already testing the program in the USA and Europe.   Feedback so far has been stellar and more and more people are requesting access as they learn about the program.

The real lesson that I think the team learned is that breaking free from “incremental improvement” and striking out into new territory can be game changing.  At first the team was centered on the classroom style “lecture and testing” that is so pervasive in training today.  But after seeing some examples of how to get personal the wheels came off that old LMS bus and a new thought process took over.  It became clear that building partner enablement as a one-on-one program sharing experiences, information and step-by-step guidance was the opportunity to make a big impact across the partner community.  In the end the partner enablement program has to sell to the partner account exec on the opportunity as much as it enabled he or she to sell the solution.


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David Abramowski is a technologist turned product leader. David was a co-founder of Morph Labs, one of the first Platform as a Service plays on AWS. He was the GM for Parallels Virtuozzo containers, enterprise business, and most recently he is the leader of the product marketing team for the IT Operations Management solutions at the hyper growth SaaS company, ServiceNow.