It’s an undeniable fact:  The amount of time IT buyers are spending online to aid their decision making is increasing.  More significantly, the gap between when an IT decision maker identifies a need and when he/she picks up the phone to speak to a prospective supplier is widening.  As a result, vendors and partners are being involved in the buying process much later on.

Why?  It’s simply because IT professionals have access to so much more information and peer-led opinion to aid their decision making than ever before.  IT buyers revel in using online forums to garner third party opinion, testimonials and solution reviews, and the strength of this kind of information can no longer be underestimated in the buying process.  That’s why marketing strategies that consist of purely outbound lead generation techniques just don’t cut the mustard any more.

So what does this mean for your channel partners?  How can they influence this buying process prior to engaging with end-users?  Without appearing to be abrupt… it’s time they raised their game, got their head out of the sand… another cliché we can’t think of… you get the picture.

The stats flying around at the moment suggest a very important fact.  That IT buyers are using social media platforms effectively and fluidly to help them progress along the decision making process and make the best decisions for their organisations.  The question that the majority of partners, and even some vendors, need to ask themselves is ‘am I really using social media to influence the right audience at the right time?’

The answer is invariably no, and even if the answer is yes, it could probably be done more effectively.  So the question is, how can you help your partners to do this?  Two words… education and content.

You need to educate your channels in how to reach and relate to IT buyers at every stage of their buying process… be it research, identifying and comparing technology, assessing partners or trialling solutions.  You need to create content that enables your partners to educate end-users, leading them to your solutions, capturing them as leads and closing them as new clients.

Help your partners to be in the right place at the right time.  Help your partners to educate, not sell.  Create content that is shareable, and give them real-time access to that content to publish as their own.  BINGO!

That is assuming that your social media house is in order before you start helping your partners however ;-) Time for a wake up call all round maybe?!?