New research sheds light on channel partner programs

The Channel Institute partnered with Impertion, a channel-specific demand generation company, to discover what marketing content is most valued by business-to-business (B2B) technology buyers.

The survey results will add to the growing library of data for the B2B buyer’s journey, especially for the technology marketing sector. Many marketers often use templates to plan their buyer’s journey and this research will feed into this aspect of channel partner programs.

Channel partners are typically less sophisticated than vendors in marketing techniques and also have much fewer resources. Channel marketing teams need to find simpler ways for channel partners to implement marketing campaigns that better meet their buyer’s needs.

In particular, marketers need to build better stories and more compelling content around tools such as ROI and TCO calculators, vendor comparison tools, templates and workshops that combine use-specific demos with free software trials.

According to Channel Institute director Michael Kelly, a recurring theme from the research was the skepticism that B2B technology buyers have in relation to vendor content and claims. This was seen as pervasive across channel partner programs.

This may be summed up by one respondent’s request for “The truth! Not the marketing angles where everything out there will reduce costs and improve revenues and profit”.

It is clear from the survey that the credibility of content is top of mind for B2B technology buyers. Vendors clearly need to build partner best channel partner programs that make it easier and faster for a channel partner to build compelling content that matches the buyer’s journey for their solutions.

Independence of source for marketing content is important, which is why they look to third-party communities to find content and discuss both content and solutions with their peers.

The Channel Institute and Impression received more than 300 fully completed responses from senior technology buyers. When asked to choose “Which educational content do you prefer to receive from technology vendors?” the results were, in order of preference:

  1.  Free trials
    2.   Demos
    3.   Videos
    4.   Calculators (ROI, TCO, etc)
    5.   How-to Guides and Templates
    6.   E-Books
    7.   Case Studies
    8.   Independent Research
    9.   White Papers

The question was deliberately aimed at understanding the “Middle-of-the-funnel” – i.e. the “Evaluation” phase in the buyer’s journey.

The results show a clear preference for practical tools and templates to help inform and evaluate.

When asked for general feedback on what other content in channel partner programs would be useful for business technology buyers to shortlist vendors, responses included:

  • Comparison sheets versus other vendors and solutions
  • Cloud environments for testing
  • Proof of concept workshops on real use cases, and VM workshops
  • Customer results statements
  • Implementation of history. What was easy, what was difficult, how did we overcome the difficulties?
  • Free and independent assessments
  • Webinars
  • Online buyer reviews

About the Channel Institute:

The Channel Institute is the only training body in the world that provides business training and certification specifically for the channel profession through a syllabus validated by a vendor-independent Industry Advisory Council. The Institute currently offers three certificate courses supporting channel managers, channel marketers and channel resellers:

  • The Certificate in Channel Management
  • The Certificate in Channel Marketing
  • The Certificate in Digital Co-Marketing


The Channel Institute also licenses its course content to universities and vendor training academies to bolster their channel training libraries.


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