B2B Marketers Plan Upgrades to Support Channel Partner Programs

March 25, 2022

Strengthening partner and channel programs to drive sources of revenue is one of the top B2B go-to-market priorities in the aftermath of the pandemic, per recent research, and a new study [pdf] from Demand Gen Report in association with Channel Marketing Report and Allbound suggests that B2B marketers will be investing more in these programs.

Virtually all of the 111 B2B marketers surveyed for the report expect to increase revenue attributable to channel partners this year, including 1 in 4 who expect to hike that revenue by more than 20%. Moreover, about 9 in 10 said the goals of their channel partner programs are increasing, and more than 8 in 10 plan to grow the number of partners in their channel ecosystem. It should be noted that the survey was fielded by both Demand Gen Report and Channel Market Report, such that these figures are likely coming from respondents who are significantly engaged in these activities.

Nonetheless, there is work to do. Only 18% described their company’s current program to sell and market products and services through their network of channel partners as “very effective,” almost matched by the share who described it as “not very effective” (16%). The primary attitude, as expressed by 65% of respondents, is that current programs are “somewhat effective.”

Marketers will be investing to improve that effectiveness, though. About 7 in 10 plan to increase their channel marketing budget to support their overall channel partner program, though for most (56% overall) that will be a marginal rather than significant (13%) increase.

What Are Current and Future Channel Support Solutions?

Currently, B2B marketers are most likely to be utilizing channel incentives and program management (54%) solutions, as well as partner training/learning management solutions (54%) in order to support their channel partner sales and marketing goals. Around half are also leveraging partner portals (52%) and partner relationship management (PRM; 48%) solutions, with fewer turning to through-channel marketing automation (24%).

Asked which solutions they will upgrade or implement in the coming 12 months, and the order of solutions changes somewhat. Partner training/learning management solutions (53%) emerge at the top of this list, ahead of channel incentives and program management (43%), partner portals (41%), partner relationship management (31%) and through-channel marketing automation (31%).

Other Findings:

  • B2B marketers are most apt to be offering sales training (69%), customer event support/funding (56%), marketing training (52%) and account-based marketing (44%) to support their channel partners.
  • Product information/sell sheets (65%), co-branded collateral (63%), website content (57%), thought-leadership content (53%) and social selling/marketing messages (51%) are the types of marketing assets/materials offered by the broadest set of respondents.
  • B2B marketers are most likely to be staying in touch with channel partners through email (79%) and online meetings (63%), though a slim majority (52%) do use partner portals to stay in contact.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey conducted in December 2021 and January 2022 among 111 B2B marketers from a variety of industries and company sizes.

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