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We all know direct referrals are the best source of leads.

Referrals convert more solidly in B2B and often come in greater volume. reports the Chief Marketing Officer Council shows that referrals bring in 54% of B2B leads: eMail marketing, internet searches, trade shows, and “other” (combined) amounting to less than half.

So, question is, that being the case: what are we doing to serve up the biggest and best half of the pie?

What are we doing to support the influencer channel? Do we even proactively manage it as a “channel”?

Ironically, it seems we get all tripped-up in internet searches and advertising, which are a small fraction of leads. If my memory serves well, Larry Ellison is attributed with having once said something like: you know what the problem is with sales? They’re like a robber who gets distracted holding-up the gas station on the way to stick-up the bank! I’m paraphrasing of course, but you get the point…

Do we have tools in place to serve, properly attribute, and reward the efforts of what can be the biggest and best sources of leads, referrals?

More than passing out generic discount codes, are we providing our influencers, affiliates, and referral partners the tools they need to drive business our way?

Do we have the basics, including: an influencer dashboard, a marketing library for affiliates, and landing pages with attribution tracking tools? Or, are we managing referrals one-off, with a handshake lead form and flurry of eMails - backed-up by a 10% referral agreement, somewhere?

Do we provide our partners lead tracking, all the way down to the rep level? Or, do we stop at the company level – and let our partner deal with the point of referral attribution tracking?

But, before we get too far, let’s ask a more basic question: should we even concern ourselves with the Experience in our Influencer Channel?

In an ARN article, Forrester Research’s Principal of Channel Partnerships and Alliances analyst Jay McBain reports that “the nature and importance traditional reseller management will be changing as companies move to add a great deal of discipline and structure around the ‘Influencer Channel’ and tools to support the Trifurcated channel model.”

Sure, we all a love a warm lead from a great referral or positive endorsement. But, what are we doing to support this channel?

Naturally, the influencer channel will become an increasingly important source of leads as the world more fully shifts to distanced business development, in the post-Covid world. Are we prepared and is it difficult to gear-up…?

About Dynamic Channels : we offer access to two different marketplaces: a Public Marketplace (where you can list your program/product and get all the dashboard tools to track leads); or a Private Marketplace (which you can use to build-out your own ecosystem). Either way, both provide tools to support the "influencer channel".

It is no secret anymore. We all know that over 70% of the buying cycle (for end products) is complete on the web before the customer ever engages a sales rep. Habits formed in our B2C life are changing our B2B expectations.

If that is happening with B2B end user sales cycles, we can also assume it is happening with partner-to-partner channel programs, right…?

Logically, if people evaluate products without talking to a rep, naturally, they also want to evaluate partner programs without talking to a Biz Dev guy/gal. That is not to say the AEs or BDMs are obsolete, it is just that more of the front-end evaluation is pushed to the web.

That being the case, it naturally follows that we want to make sure channel offerings are available within a few clicks, on the web.

Sure, some companies have not gotten around to developing the channel - they are all direct. And, that is okay. Fortunately, they can leap frog and engage customers as ambassadors.

Most channel-centric organizations however will, at least, have a program and lead form on their web page. “Partners: APPLY HERE”. That’s good. But, do our partner programs support the trifurcated channel model, in a one-to-many world? And, is our lead form actually helping people evaluate and “JOIN” our referral program?

In essence: are our programs available through a technology-enabled partner marketplace?

In the below article it is suggested that Gartner Group's managing vice president of Sales Practice, Cristina Gomez, says "that sales teams should rethink sales enablement. Broadly, sellers will need entirely new methods of sales enablement if they want to align selling activity to customers’ preferred engagement channels and purchasing journey."

Continuing with the same article, " Forrester Research’s principal channel partnerships and alliances analyst Jay McBain" suggest ‘the future of channel sales looks like it will rely heavily on digital engagement mechanisms across multiple sales channels’.”

He later declares "the emergence of a so-called 'trifurcated' channel model, which essentially breaks channel sales activities into three defined engagement channels: an emerging ‘influencer channel’; the traditional ‘transactional channel’; and a new ‘retention channel’.”

Do you have your "influencer channel" (the growing part of the channel) worked out? Do you have your product and program offering listed in a partner marketplace where influencers can pick it up?

“According to McBain, creating an ‘influencer channel’ made up of affinity partners, referral agents, affiliates, advocates, ambassadors, and alliances is becoming critical to success, and any partner program will need to serve these early digital influencers in a nonlinear fashion.”

What if your competitors are marketing their program to influencers with referral opportunities, through a one-to-many partner marketplace? What if they have all the lead attribution tools to properly track affiliate referrals, while you are managing them with spreadsheets, lead forms, or clunky CRM?

Well, if that is the case, there’s hope…

At Dynamic Channels, we offer access to two different marketplaces: a Public Marketplace (where you can list your program/product and get all the dashboard tools to track leads); or a Private Marketplace (which you can use to build-out your own ecosystem). Either way, both provide tools to support the "trifurcated channel model".

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