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Transforming Security: Addressing Customer Challenges

 

Your customers face security threats everywhere, every day.  What can you do as a partner to help address the challenges customers face with transforming IT security?

Penton media recently sat down with Chris Campbell, Director of Product Marketing at VMware to talk about just this topic.

Listen to the FastChat and find out how you can help customers drive security transformation as Chris expands on:

 

 

  • The biggest customer challenges around security today
  • Why security interactions among silos is increasingly complex for customers
  • Simplifying security
  • What customers can expect by implementing a VMware security portfolio

VMware Partners – review our latest Transform Security campaign available via Partner Demand Center.

VMware is excited to further our partner’s success in driving security transformation for customers.

Partner Exchange: US Schedule Builder Live

 

The biggest VMware event of the year is fast approaching so as a valued VMware Partner, prepare yourself to make the most of it.

Partner Exchange takes place this year on Sunday, August 27 in Las Vegas with partner boot camps happening on Saturday, August 26.  Pass holders can attend a wide range of technical and sales boot camps, a partner general session presented by top VMware executives, solution keynotes, partner breakout sessions, route-to-market discussions and more.

Now that the US schedule builder is live, create your schedule to ensure that you do not miss out.  Hot topics this year tailored for every partner type include:

Examples of partner boot camps include:

  • VMware Sales Professional – Network Virtualization (VSP-NV)
  • VMware’s Cloud Management Platform – Eyes Across the Hybrid Cloud
  • VMware Technical Solutions Professional – Network Virtualization
  • VMware Technical Solutions Professional – Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
  • VMware Technical Solutions Professional – Desktop Virtualization (VTSP-DV)

In addition to quality partner focused content, all Partner Exchange pass holders receive exclusive access to the Partner Exchange Lounge open all week and an exclusive invitation to the Partner Exchange reception at 5pm on August 27 at the Mandalay Bay.

There is still time to be a part of the biggest VMware partner event of the year so register now to attend Partner Exchange @ VMworld 2017.

 

Ultimate Guide to Nurturing Leads with Content

With lead generation at the center of every marketing strategy, we know our Channel Partners go to great lengths to find and convert prospects. And although we all understand successful lead nurturing requires relationship building with potential buyers, it is precisely at this stage that many of our marketing efforts fall flat. In fact, according to Marketing Sherpa, 73% of B2B leads are not sales-ready [1]  and it often takes several touches through lead nurturing programs for a buyer to request additional information (13+ to be exact [2]). It is not uncommon for Marketers to pass leads to sales reps before they are properly nurtured. Consequently, a sales rep initiates a call and prospects are scared off because they are not ready to buy.

As part of our ongoing Marketing Best Practices blog series for Partners, this third article focuses on practical tips for building a winning lead nurturing strategy.

Map the buyer’s journey to the sales funnel

In an earlier post, we discussed the stages of the buyer’s journey, which is the research process that prospects follow before making a purchase. On the flip side, the sales funnel is the buying process that converts prospects from leads to customers.

When buyers enter the sales funnel, it’s critical to qualify and nurture them along the way. Understanding their buyer’s journey and how it maps to your sales funnel helps you make decisions around your nurturing strategy, and ultimately when to hand off leads to sales reps. For example, typically the stages map as follows:

  • Awareness Stage = Top of the Funnel
  • Consideration Stage = Middle of the Funnel
  • Purchase Stage = Bottom of the Funnel

First things first, understand customer characteristics

Before marketers can adequately nurture prospects, it is essential to understand and define their characteristics. A common framework designed to flesh out customer definitions is personas, which are fictional depictions of existing and ideal customers. This blog from Hubspot provides detailed instructions.

For example, if your business depends on building network and security services with the VMware platform, you may develop customer personas for various decision makers and influencers in Enterprise IT.

Build a nurturing strategy foundation with content

Content is an integral part of any nurturing strategy. However, before you publish content you must first develop relevant content for your audience. With a firm understanding of customers through personas, marketers can tailor content delivered to prospects matching each audience’s wants, needs, budget and pain points. Coupling this knowledge with the buyer’s journey gives you the ability to deliver the right content – at the right time.

Understand content types that generate Top of Funnel leads

Many of us spend a lot of time and energy generating top of funnel leads, but struggle to build relationships with prospects over time with nurturing. It is important to differentiate the types of content that build awareness for cloud computing, virtualization and IT solutions, which are defined below:

  • Social Media
  • Blog Posts
  • Web Content Optimized for Search Engines
  • Product Videos and Podcasts
  • Infographics and Other Highly Visual Content

The above content is the cornerstone of inbound marketing efforts. It should be highly educational, position your company as a trusted thought leader and set the stage for ongoing lead nurturing.

Utilize premium content

For buyers who are building their knowledge and entering the mid funnel stage, offer premium content, which is placed behind a registration form (gated). This content must offer enough value that the prospect is willing to “pay for it” with their contact information.

Examples of premium content in the consideration stage include:

  • Webinars
  • White Papers
  • eBooks
  • Newsletters
  • Research Papers

Nurture through email marketing and sales activities

Premium content opens the door for collecting email addresses and applicable data such as titles, which gives VMware Channel Partners the tools to progress through the mid-funnel nurturing process and advance to the bottom of the funnel.

We recommend deployment of email nurturing programs through marketing and/or sales, which are highly effective communication tools. Place prospects into nurturing drip campaigns on different tracks that depend on where they are in the funnel, their persona, title and other relevant customer data. Distribute the following types of content through each track, which align to their cloud computing or virtualization wants and needs:

Middle of Funnel content

  • Case Studies
  • Testimonials and Reviews
  • Comparison Guides
  • Newsletters

Bottom of Funnel content

  • Free Consultations
  • Personal Product Demos
  • Free Trials and Assessments

Decide when to hand leads to sales

Finally, Marketing and Sales must agree on when Marketing should discontinue their nurturing efforts and hand leads over to sales reps. Working together on the definition of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) support this alignment.

Typically, SQLs are nurtured through Marketing, and are at the decision stage in their journey; while MQLs are established as meeting the qualifications of a typical buyer. Those identified as SQLs are prepared to be handed over to sales. To identify the right timing, research past performance and define the optimal parameters for this lead handoff.

Next steps

 We invite you to take advantage of the VMware enablement tools in the Partner Demand Center designed specifically to help you build effective nurturing programs and content to ensure our mutual success:

Feel free to email us with any questions -we are here to help.

-Sources:

[1] The Complex Sale: Lead scoring effort increases conversion 79% https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/case-study/lead-scoring-effort-increases-conversion

[2] Why it Takes 7 to 13+ Touches to Deliver a Qualified Sales Lead (Part 1)

https://www.onlinemarketinginstitute.org/blog/2013/10/why-it-takes-7-to-13-touches-to-deliver-a-qualified-sales-lead-part1/

 

Using Social Media to Boost Demand

Our second article in the marketing best practices blog series will focus on the power of social media to boost demand.

Today, 76% of technology marketers use social media in their marketing strategy, which means your competitors, and buyers are likely there. To bolster that thought, a recent IDC study revealed that 75% of B2B buyers utilize social media to make buying decisions – but that’s not all. It also showed that the greater the influence over purchasing decisions, the more likely they are to be using social during the buying process; and thanks to how easy it is to ask for opinions online, social platforms are now considered instrumental in closing deals.

Fortunately, using social media as a strategy to drive demand doesn’t have to be an enormous time commitment for VMware partners. The following tips will help you get started quickly:

Build Out Profiles

Think of social profiles as online first impressions. What image are you portraying; friendly and knowledgeable or disheveled – building trust or intimidating? If you are not sure, ask peers for honest feedback.

  • Images: For business pages use logos images, and on personal but professional profiles invest in a headshot. Hint: be consistent to build recognition.
  • Language: Include keywords used to find your solutions in profiles and keep descriptions focused on the buyer and your expertise in solving their business challenges.
  • Complete all sections: Customers want information that builds trust and signals potential for a positive experience. The more complete your social media profiles are, the more customers will take you seriously. Hint: LinkedIn recommendations from satisfied customers are particularly helpful.
  • Update regularly: Profiles are not “set-it-and-forget-it.” They change over time. Set a calendar reminder and analyze them for accuracy every six months to a year.

Keys to Success

  • Engagement: Thanks to ever-changing social media algorithms, if you are not actively engaging (likes, shares, comments), there is a good chance your content will not be seen. Log into accounts daily and remember to:
    • Follow back relevant accounts that followed you (Twitter)
    • Respond to connection requests (LinkedIn)
    • Make new connections (like and share relevant content from others)
    • Respond to notifications and messages
    • Find and comment on conversations where you can add value
  • Curate relevant articles: You likely come across industry relevant content regularly. Keep a list throughout the week to socialize later. Alternatively, if using a social post scheduler, most have applets for creating and scheduling while viewing the article’s URL. Hint: Do not be too self-promotional. Publish a mixture of your content plus industry relevant articles from other sources.
  • Hashtags: Posts with hashtags receive over twice the engagement, which translates to more visibility and connections. Concentrate on being specific and relevant to your prospects – think #Cloud, #IT, #DigitalTransformation coupled with product specific tags such as #HCI, #VMwareNSX or #SDDC. Hint: 1 – 3 hashtags per post is the sweet spot.

Social Media Syndication via the Partner Demand Center

Another time saver is social syndication available in the VMware Partner Demand Center.  Utilize social media syndication to jump start your social media efforts in just three simple steps:

  • Connect social accounts
  • Approve or edit pre-made posts created by the VMware partner team
  • Schedule as you see fit

Creating a daily routine for social media is akin to a regular exercise regimen. The more you commit, the better the results. If you are not actively on social media now, start small, pick one platform, build your presence over time and remember – consistency is key.

Lead Generation in the Digital Era

Lead generation in the digital era can be daunting. The good news is, there are resources that can immediately help you fill your sales pipeline. To help you stay on top of your customers’ needs our ongoing best practices blog series will focus on lead generation, social media strategies, nurturing programs and more.

Generating consistent and predictable sales leads is the lifeblood of B2B organizations. Unfortunately, in our digital era, successfully managing a sales funnel is easier said than done. Tried and true methods, like cold calling and shotgun email marketing techniques, now only produce lackluster results. This leaves many of us feeling as though we have exhausted our time, budgets and resources.
The primary reason for this change is the evolution of the buying process. Digital has forever altered how buyers make purchasing decisions. In fact, they often complete their own research online before reaching out to a Partner, which highlights the importance of being top of mind at every stage of the sales process.

Understanding the Modern Buyer’s Journey

There are three stages of the buyer’s journey. Each stage puts your customers firmly in the driver’s seat of the decision-making process, including:

  1. Awareness: The buyer realizes they have a problem
  2. Consideration: The buyer begins to research possible solutions
  3. Decision: The buyer chooses a product or solution

Harnessing the Forgotten Power of Email Programs

As social media and content play an ever-expanding role in sales and marketing, email programs have fallen by the wayside. It is important to note that email marketing continues to deliver tremendous performance, consistently exceeding other methods. According to a survey conducted by the Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric, “Email had a median ROI of 122% — more than four times higher than other marketing formats examined, including social media, direct mail and paid search.” [1]

Email marketing is unquestionably effective for building awareness and nurturing leads, but there are critical elements to consider:

  • Purchased email lists are rarely effective and may hurt your reputation. Instead, build an opt-in list with content marketing and other inbound marketing techniques in order to build brand recognition and customer loyalty.
  • Segment your lists to narrow your targeting focus (think verticals, previous email activity such as click-throughs and past purchases).
  • Use multi-touch programs to build your message over time.
  • Be consistent with your messaging to strengthen your brand.

To help you get started, VMware Partners can easily access multi-touch programs in the Partner Demand Center. These campaigns are ideal for driving awareness and include everything you need, from custom emails and landing pages to gated content.

Building Relationships with Lead Nurturing

Depending where your buyer is in their journey, they may not be ready to buy right now. However, it does not mean that you should concede and move on to the next lead. Take this opportunity to nurture the relationship, differentiate your business, build trust, educate your customers and finally move them closer to a decision.

According to the 2017 Benchmark survey by Demand Gen Report, marketers agree that the best types of lead nurturing programs are email newsletters, white papers and webinars.[2] But, these are not the only tactics that work. Thought leadership articles, research-based content and blog posts are also highly effective. The key for all Partners is to map the right type of program and content to each stage or the buyer’s journey.

VMware knows it takes time to build lead nurturing programs and content from scratch. We offer resources at your fingertips to give you a fast pass to success. Our programs include everything from webinar and workshop planning guides to outbound calling programs – all tools available through the Partner Demand Center.

Accelerating Sales

When buyers reach the decision phase, they’re strategically narrowing down vendors by evaluating specific features and comparing prices. Seeing products in action helps prospects fully grasp the features and overall value of solutions. This is an ideal opportunity to offer testimonials, labs, evaluation checklists, product trials and demos.

VMware supplies the following fast passes to success to help you demonstrate the value of VMware products and move sales forward:

  • Hands-on Labs

VMware Hand-on Labs (HOLs) demonstrate the value of VMware solutions in real time. This program provides you with the tools you need to encourage prospects to try out VMware solutions.

  • Free Trials and Assessments

Free Trial and Assessment forms can be added to your website through VMware Content Syndication. This allows your prospects to download evaluation versions of products and install them in their own environment.

Refining Your Strategy

Once your programs are in place, it is important to continuously evaluate what’s working and refine your strategy based on data. If you’re not focusing on metrics, statistics show that you may be missing valuable leads. According to Demand Gen Report, “The less companies know about their Key Performance Indicators [or metrics], the less likely they are to meet their revenue goals.” To identify where leads are leaking out, it is recommended to regularly examine each stage of the sales funnel. This best practice will go a long way toward boosting your pipeline and improving your marketing and sales practices.

Next Steps for Partners to Boost Sales

Please note that Terms and conditions apply.

——————————————————————————————————————————————Sources:

[1] Email Continues to Deliver Strong ROI and Value for Marketers, https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Email-Continues-Deliver-Strong-ROI-Value-Marketers

[2] 2016 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study, https://www.demandgenreport.com/resources/reports/2016-lead-nurturing-benchmark-study

[3] 2016 Content Preferences Study, https://www.demandgenreport.com/resources/research/2016-content-preferences-survey-b2b-buyers-value-content-that-offers-data-and-analysis

 

Advantage+ Enhancements for 2017: What Partners Need to Know

Last August, VMware announced enhancements to Advantage+, our opportunity registration program.  This year, we continue the evolution as part of our ongoing commitment to deliver best in class partner programs.  We are pleased to announce the following Advantage+ enhancements effective June 19:

  • Lead on Professional Services – Premier and Enterprise Solution Providers and Corporate Resellers can request registration to take the lead on selling Professional Services.
  • Cross-Sell Up-Sell Improvements – Modified validation process to allow for solution-oriented selling.
  • Professional Level Solution Providers eligible to participate in Advantage+  with  safeguard registration benefits.

VMware transformational solutions continue to offer immense partner opportunity and these Advantage+ enhancements will streamline the incentive process for our advanced products.

Be sure to review the incentives page on Partner Central for more details.

VMware vRealize Updates Bring Opportunities

VMware’s recent product updates make it easier to accelerate your customers’ digital transformation by modernizing their existing data center environment and simplifying management of heterogeneous, multi-vendor cloud environments. The updated VMware vRealize® Cloud Management Platform brings opportunity by enabling customers to manage and provision at scale – with compute, network, storage and application services across multi cloud environments.

What’s improved with vRealize Cloud Management for customers and partners?

  • Faster time-to-implementation and lower total cost of ownership of cloud
  • Partners are eligible for the front-end discounts up to 30%, plus a 5% back-end rebate

How can I engage my customers?

IDC predicts that by 2018, 98% of Enterprises will be operating both private and public clouds. This would accelerate an increasing need for a multi cloud management solution. Start the conversation around the following three common customer use cases and illustrating key updates:

Intelligent Operations                                    

  • Automated, Proactive Performance Management for workload balancing across clusters and data stores based on business needs
  • 360 Troubleshooting for faster root-cause analysis
  • Enhanced Insights to improve forecasting and accelerate cloud planning
  • Increased Support for VMware vSAN™ Operations, Ease of Use Enhancements, Improved Cross Cloud Networking and Security Management, and much more

Automate IT

  • Increased support for VMware NSX® Day Two Actions for load balancing, networking and security functions
  • Automated, Proactive Workload Placement to improve placement decision making for provisioning new virtual machines

DevOps-Ready IT

  • Container Management Enhancements including support for vSphere Integrated ContainersTM and Docker
  • Configuration Management Framework for integration with tools such as Puppet, Chef, Salt, and Ansible
  • DBaaS Enhancements to easily clone server databases and make them catalog items
  • Enhanced Microsoft Azure support to enable deployment and management of application and middleware services

For more details on what is new and improved with vRealize, listen to the “Learn about the new vRealize releases in Q2” vmLIVE session. You will hear from VMware Cloud Management leaders and subject matter experts on strategy updates, new releases, and to see demos of the new functionality.

Also, be sure to visit the Launch Resource Center  for more information on product updates, partner benefits and incentives on growing your cloud management practice

Know More, Grow More: VMware Mobility Accreditation

The newly released Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Mobility Management 2017 once again names VMware as the leader with the highest rating on both ability to execute and completeness of vision.

The Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) landscape has changed considerably over the past seven years.  Continued innovation in the space by a market leader is a benefit to partners who will be well prepared to lead their customers on their digital transformation journey.

A great way for partners to participate in the upcoming Mobility, Windows 10 and IoT opportunity is to have a highly competent staff.  A good place for Partner Sales Engineers to start is to achieve the VMware Mobility Management Pre-Sales Accreditation.

Penton Media recently sat down with VMware Global Performance Consultant Kevin Groat to hear more about Mobility enablement and how VMware is helping partners position themselves to obtain their share of the Mobility market.  Listen to the interview as Kevin expands on:

  • How partners can become well-versed in Mobility and ways VMware can help
  • Why partners should earn the VTSP Mobility 2017 accreditation
  • Benefits of achieving accreditations for your organization

For 2017, the VMware Mobility Management Pre-Sales Accreditation is now streamlined into three courses as follows:

  • VMware AirWatch Solution Overview
  • VMware AirWatch Fundamentals
  • VMware AirWatch: Validate and Prove (using TestDrive)

Knowing more and growing more is easier than ever. Get started earning your VMware Mobility Accreditation today.

 

VMware Honors Partner Innovation Award Winners

This week VMware hosted its second Partner Leadership Summit in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.  The invite-only event was an opportunity for c-level executives from our top partners to join our corporate leaders and dive deep on VMware strategy to understand how we will drive our mutual success in 2017 and beyond.

A highlight of the Leadership Summit was the announcement of the annual Partner Innovation Awards.  During award ceremonies, VMware recognized both regional and global excellence across routes to market, functional areas, focus solutions as well as strategic IT priorities and other key categories.  For a complete list of our Partner Innovation Award winners and categories please read today’s press release.

Congratulations again to our 2016 award-winning partners on this tremendous achievement. VMware leaders were delighted to honor your outstanding performance and dedication.  We look forward to celebrating our next partner innovation award winners in 2018 as we continue to work in lock step with our channel for ongoing success.

VMware Introduces Pulse IoT Center

Graphic for Pulse IoT Center

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly transforming traditional business models and operational processes. IoT is giving organizations the ability to use sensors and smart devices to gather new types of data about the physical world that has never been available before. Whether the thing is a wind turbine, truck, building, car or manufacturing robot, the data these things generate is now used to unlock new opportunities and insights.

IoT Adoption – Customer Challenges

As enterprises begin to embrace and invest in IoT to realize its benefits, they are running into significant challenges.  They need a simpler way to keep track, visualize, monitor and secure the hundreds and thousands of edge systems and various types of connected devices that are unmanned and located anywhere.

Enterprise organizations are also struggling to manage IoT operations across their fragmented ecosystems, prioritize the data from things to platforms, and deploy strategies with speed and efficiency. Simultaneously, these IT and OT departments are not necessarily communicating well or working together on strategies even though they both need to implement and scale IoT use cases quickly and cost effectively.

 IoT Solutions – A Fresh Approach

VMware is taking a fresh approach to IoT solutions with the latest launch of VMware Pulse IoT Center.  Providing a secure, enterprise grade, end to end infrastructure management solution, VMware Pulse IoT enables OT and IT to manage, monitor and secure all IoT ‘things’ from the edge to the cloud.

VMware Pulse IoT Center leverages VMware’s core expertise in device management, infrastructure analytics, security, and cloud management to enable organizations to reduce IoT complexity; increase the reliability and security of their IoT infrastructure, and get to ROI faster. It addresses the complex needs of IoT for both IT and OT teams and helps enterprises take control of their IoT by managing broader, operating smarter and more securely, and innovating faster.

One VMware Ecosystem for the Internet of Things

To implement an Internet of Things solution today customers often need to cobble together offerings from various vendors, with few standards and little guidance. They have to make decisions on sensors, edge systems, data analytics and storage solutions, network connectivity, application development and more.

To simplify matters and help customers address complex IoT use cases across multiple industries, VMware is forging IoT-related alliances with:

  • Server OEMs/Edge Systems
  • Embedded OEMs
  • Systems Integrators
  • Business Applications and Analytics
  • IoT Platform Vendors

These alliances endeavor to bridge the gap between the IT and OT worlds and deploy an end to-end IoT solution from the device to datacenter: At this time, VMware Partners are encouraged to get more information about our IoT solutions via the VMware IoT solutions website. Additional video resources include: