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Monthly Archives: July 2017

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.