Sales Pipeline Radio #60: Q&A w Peter Thomas @PeterAThomas - Heinz Marketing

Last updated: 01-12-2019

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Sales Pipeline Radio #60: Q&A w Peter Thomas @PeterAThomas - Heinz Marketing

Late in 2015 we started producing a radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific.  It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests coming up. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg.  Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise.  Recent Guests: Jim Keenan; Joanne Black; Aaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes.  You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

Peter Thomas is the founder and CEO of Averetek. This team of marketers, engineers, and product developers seek new ways to engage channel partners through software and services. Since its beginning in 2000, Averetek has grown to manage more than 70,000 reseller organizations and 300,000 registered users.

In Averetek’s work with brands, Peter has found that companies focus too much time and money on the top 10% of their channel partners. The remaining partners simply need the right nudge to shift from opportunistic to strategic sellers. When brands devote more attention to the 90% segment, they drive more leads, close more sales, and grow their business.

Peter combines his observations with partner behavior data from the Averetek platform, sharing this knowledge to help clients attract, engage, and monetize their partners more effectively.

Matt:  Oh my goodness. Well my first question first of all thank everyone for joining us for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Thank you everyone for putting up last week with the Marketing Kranks. Paul, how did the Marketing Kranks do?

Paul:  They were a little cranky but overall I thought they were pretty interesting here.

Matt:  It’s funny like we have a separate podcast here at Heinz Marketing called The Marketing Kranks and they don’t record quite as frequently, we do this every week. They record a little less frequently. But I initially wanted to call it The Marketing Curmudgeons, they decided that was too long so we went with The Kranks.

And they are two of our vice presidents, they are super smart, they have been doing B2B marketing longer than I have. But seriously they aren’tcurmudgeony, like they get into conversations they start spitting each other up in the office. And we literally just said we’ve got to just press record on this, this is gold.

Paul:  It was pretty fascinating. The only thing is they didn’t want to stop! I had to practically cut them off and pull the plug here.

Matt:  For them I think the radio formats are tough, because the whole commercial break and someone else wants to do their show thing is a little difficult, they just go and keep talking. And they get cranky ironically if you try to cut them off. But anyways thank you to Brian and Robert from the Marketing Kranks podcast for joining last week while I was out but excited to be back here on Sales Pipeline Radio.

We are here every week at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific sharing news updates and interviews from the world of B2B sales development marketing and sales. Very excited today to have the featured with us Peter Thomas, Peter Thomas is the CEO of Averetek. And not only am I excited to have him on, we should have booked him as a guest long ago to talk about channel marketing. Peter literally agreed to do this about 40 minutes ago, I am not kidding, like we had a guest on today, we were wanting to talk about conversational presentations and some great new research going on in sales presentation efficacy. We are going to get to that later but unfortunately our guest has the flu and did not want to cough and sneeze their way through an interview. So Peter thankfully and graciously agreed to join us today and I couldn’t be happier, Peter thanks so much joining us.

Peter:  Thanks for having me Matt. And I am always happy to pinch it when I have the opportunity. Like I said if you have a much more illustrious guest that may cancel at the last minute, always feel free to give me a call, I am happy to join your show.

Matt:  All right Pete, so what I’m going to count on now is that Peter is going to at least be listening to every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio live, it will be Peter and my mom live with us every week.

Matt:  It will be awesome. But Peter I am actually excited like we did spend a few minutes talking about channel marketing and I’ve known you for long time. And I mean it’s amazing to me how many companies are overlooking and under investing in channel marketing. So talk a little bit about this opportunity like how are you defining channel marketing? How are companies thinking about this and why is it such an under leveraged channel for lack of a better description for of a lot of B2B companies?

Peter:  A lot of people call it a lot of different things sometimes they might call it affiliate marketing, indirect marketing, local marketing, I mean it’s called a number of things. I think that’s one of the issues with this space in general in that it’s a little undefined and undiscovered. Let’s contrast that with engineering or teaching. If you’re a teacher we all pretty much agree on what that means but nobody really agrees on what channel marketing is.

So for the purposes of this discussion and the ones that I have with my clients, we essentially define it as anytime you have a company that is essentially selling your products outside of your organization. So you can think of a channel as a CDW, you can think of Staples as a channel, the a reseller partner essentially of a number of different products. And so opposed to a direct marketing organization where you have sales and marketing inside of the same building, a channel is when you are relying on other companies to bring your product to market and a lot of times they are going to sell services that are complementary to that on top of it.

Well first of all 80% of all the products in the whole entire world are sold through an indirect channel which is a staggering amount of products but think about it, every time you go to a grocery store you are essentially buying from each marketer. You can’t buy something directly from Nestlé or Nabisco, I mean they are going to sell it through your local retailer.

So this is the way the word was set up to distribute products and yet the problem is that this is typical an under resourced segment of most organizations, they don’t even though they get a significant amount of their revenues from it, they don’t apply a significant amount of resources to activate it.

Matt:  Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Peter Thomas the CEO of Averetek. Averetek is a great provider of knowledge, insight and tools around channel marketing. And we are going to get into the channel engagement framework that you have Peter here probably after the break.

But when I hear you say that 80% of goods and services are sold through an indirect channel, my immediate thought is like holy cow, like in most of the companies we talked to that are in B2B are selling mostly direct. Some companies sell purely through channel, some people have a channel side to their business. But in a lot of cases if they have channel it might be in name alone and they’ve got sort of token people working on that. So it seems like in general that’s an under leveraged opportunity, talk about what you are seeing in the market especially in B2B around that.

Peter:  I agree with that. It is under leveraged and the reason why is I think because it’s difficult to measure or in the past I guess it was really difficult to measure the output of that. So if you start with a direct sales organization, if I hire a salesperson and I pay him $1000 a month to sell, I can pretty much decide very quickly whether or not I am getting a good value for my money because he has a number and he has to hit it and if he doesn’t hit it then I find somebody that can hit it. It’s easy, we are all in the same organization and we are all using the same set of tools and we are all using the same talk track. And so we can kind of figure that out and get good alignment.

When you go to an indirect model where the thought leadership and the product design is done at one company, that would be the supplier and then the sales execution is done at another company, that would be the channel partner, it becomes much more difficult to get alignment. You have two businesses now, two different frameworks, two different selling styles.

And so I am not sure if I put a thousand dollars worth of something in the channel what does that turn out to? Did that turn into 10,000 or was that just 1000 that I didn’t get back? And when you’re talking about these big B2B brands I mean when are talking about thousands, we’re talking millions and millions. So because there’s a lack of visibility people are hesitant to invest in it.

So like you said it’s a token investment, it’s like well we’ll put one person on the case and that could be our channel marketer who will help our partners market and sell and drive demand. Well one person isn’t going to cut it in a lot of companies.

In fact we were talking before the show about a prospect I was talking to last week, it’s a 2.2 billion dollar company with 35,000 employees, 40% of their revenue comes through the channel and they have one marketing resource. I mean it’s astonishing, it’s a huge missed opportunity.

Matt:  And you think about it like how could that person possibly be effective with that kind of an opportunity? And you used the term random acts of marketing before where there may be an occasionally newsletter or they may be opportunistic; oh there is a conference coming up. Maybe we should do something.

But I think the really take advantage of this and you’ve spent years building tools and software that is helping companies better leverage and better organize channel marketing opportunities, I definitely encourage folks to check that out at www.averetek.com and we will have links in the notes for this recording and the podcast ensuing as well. But talk a little bit about what that includes.

I mean before we get into the channel engagement framework, we talked about the systems that have to be connected, we talked about sort of just the integrations that really aren’t rocket science but have to be in place to really fully leverage the opportunity inherent in channels.

Peter:  So go back to the model or the example we just used, Janet who runs the channel for this $2.2 billion a year ERP company. She does these random acts of marketing, what she is essentially doing, she is busier than a one armed paper hanger. I mean every day she is getting a request from a partner saying hey, can you help us with this? I need this logo, I need this piece of collateral, do you have representation? So she is running around and everything that she does is essentially a one off and it’s completely random, it’s not strategic at all.

We see our job is doing helping her create scale in her job. She can’t possibly touch all of the partners they have, she can’t possibly respond to all of their requests. She needs a platform and she needs and infrastructure to help them do the marketing on their own. What we want to do is help her put content in there and then allow the channel partners to come in, find that content, co-brand that content, launch that content to an audience whether it’s a social audience or an email list or something like that, that drives interest and demand for their products. But giving the partners a way to do that in a frictionless way makes it super easy for them means that ultimately Janet is driving more leads for her company through the channel because partners have a way to do it on their own now.

Matt:  You have any stats or is there any indication even just from the experience you have that shows that just the leverage and efficiency of the channel versus direct. I think the pros and cons I often hear from companies is when I go direct I have control of my sales process, I have better visibility into what I am doing. People feel like they have more velocity and more can get the deals faster, channels can take a while to get up and rolling you don’t always have visibility but help me understand like what really is? Like what’s the cost of the problem that people don’t know that they have here?

Peter:  Well, you’re putting me on the spot to throw statistics out and I want to be very careful about that. But I suppose you can look at it more anecdotally and say if I don’t have to carry the cost of the sales head and I don’t have to carry the cost of actually doing the prospecting and acquiring the customer because another company is going to take that on, if I can get lot of those companies to do that for me, to be out there in the market talking about my products and services, then I can scale much more rapidly than I can… I can scale much more rapidly than I can and building my brand much more rapidly than I can if I am trying to do it all on my own.

Now there are some rare customer companies I should say that have done that, I can think of like Bo’s for example, traditionally direct seller, Apple had a channel for a while but it’s additionally a direct seller. These are companies that at have done very, very well controlling the velocity all on their own. But most companies don’t do it that way.

Most companies ultimately try to find a way to get distribution through other companies, through partnerships because you want to scale fast, you have to have a lot of friends talking about your stuff otherwise you are taking responsibility for all the messaging. And so I think the trade-off like you said you are trading velocity and you are trading control for brand awareness and product awareness in the market. I mean I think that’s the value.

In terms of the quantifying sides and the missed opportunity, gosh I mean I think there are so many things to go into figuring that out. But we have on our site a free resource, an ROI calculator that lets you in a few quick minutes, plug in the number of partners you have, the average deal size, their closing percentage, lead to MGO, that kind of thing that will essentially tell you what the ROI on your channel investment is should you decide to go that direction. And the numbers can be absolutely staggering depending upon how effective your partners are at closing deals.

Paul:  Okay, did we lose Matt there? Is he still around?

Peter:  I’m still here and I think I hear Matt kind of cutting in and out a little bit.

Paul:  I think that’s a problem here. I think he’s coming and going here. Let’s see if we can call him again, let’s cut to a commercial right now and we will take the time to see if we can get him back. Hang on right now, see if we can get Matt back on the line.

Paul:  Well we’ve tried everything we can to get Matt back on the line, he was connecting via Skype and somehow the Skype connection just won’t stay up here so I think we we’ll just kind of go to our wrap up phase, we only have about five minutes left. I will ask the guests, Peter if he had anything else you wants to add about we are all this is headed or what the future holds or any other thoughts before we end the show here.

Peter:  Thank you very much for your time today, I really appreciated the opportunity. I think in terms of where it’s headed, we are starting to see a convergence between inbound marketing and the channel marketing.

I think traditionally inbound marketing has been an effort that is led by the direct marketing teams, direct marketing and sales teams within companies. And know what we are seeing is many suppliers saying to themselves; well this is working so well with our direct stuff, how can we get our channel partners thinking about modern marketing practices as well?

And so we feel honored to be a part of that, helping channel partners build healthy sort of modern marketing practices. Maybe they don’t even know they are doing inbound marketing but they are doing it. I think that’s where you’re going to see evolution of the channel where it’s going to go over the next couple of years.

Paul:  Are we ever going to end up where it’s all inbound marketing? There has always been this debate about is outbound marketing dead? Is cold calling dead? Trying to reach people when they don’t want to be reached just not feasible anymore here.

Peter:  Well I think our perspective on this is that good inbound marketing leads to smarter outbound. So the idea is if you see a prospect come in and you see that they’ve exhibited some behavior, they’ve looked at your blog and then they’ve gone on to look at your website and then they’ve looked at your team bios and maybe they’ve checked out your pricing page, they are signaling intent, they are signaling that they are definitely in a shopping mode, not a learning mode I would say. And what you can do then is a match your outbound messaging to align where they are in the funnel.

So I think that rather than sending an email to all 10,000 people in my database, I am just going to send this mid-stage piece of content to somebody who has exhibited mid stage or mid-funnel behaviors. So I think it’s not dead, I think that we can prove it by evaluating the signals that our inbound marketing methodologies derived from our prospecting behavior.

Paul:  I couldn’t agree more all the time on Matt’s show and all the other shows we produce here that it isn’t one or, it seems to be an add-on, it’s something extra. And yet, how do you… my last question for you is how do you get organizations to be patient? Everybody wants to go to the chase, they want to make the sale right today. The minute I go on the websites somebody calls me and wants to close me or qualify me and put me into a sales pipeline and a funnel with follow up emails here. We don’t seem to want to let people just sniff around and think about it.

Peter:  Well how do you get people to be patient? That’s a question because of the forcing function is always a KPI. The salesman has a number to hit and so whatever he or she has to do to get there is what they are going to do so that’s why they oftentimes try to hijack the process.

But in a perfect world we would all have the empathy for each other and understand that we want to buy on our own terms. So you have to start with the philosophy that those that teach earn the right to sell. And so if you can put enough teaching, create enough teaching moments from the website, your blog, this podcast, other opportunities like this then you are going to earn the right at the point where the buyer is ready on their own time frame, they are going to be thinking of you because they are going to trust you because they think yeah, those were the folks but give me that great advice about inbound marketing or whatever it was you are going to teach them about.

And so I think that how you get them to be patient is by saying change your orientation to creating teaching moments, not selling moments so much. Now I know that doesn’t play well with public companies, I know that doesn’t play well with sales teams. I know all the friction points in saying that and yet the reality is this is a buyer’s economy. The salesman now is not as relevant from an information standpoint as they were 20 years ago. It’s all disrupted.

Paul:  I think another point I heard from one of our shows is salespeople are continually trying to figure out how do I not get cut off? How do I get some quality time to explain what I am doing? If you start with content.

Paul:  Yeah! Don’t be the interruption in their day, be what they are looking for.

Peter:  Right. I have another rule that I try to follow too which is if you want to be a hero to somebody, be a hero to the people that they love or that they are responsible for supporting.

So for example, if I want to make you a fan of me I am going to send your wife something really nice because she’s the one that you, you know… That’s the idea so how do we translate that into a B2B context? What we do is we understand that in my business the people that run the channel marketing organization, their customers are partners. So if I can give them something that they can turn around and give to their partners that’s of value, then they will look like a hero to their partners and they will think of me as the person that helped them look like a hero.

Paul:  Well Matt is going to come in and be a hero. We brought him amazingly back on the line at the last second to do the final take away, the final thoughts here. We’ve done the heavy lifting for him here and continue the conversation. No Matt gets to come in and steal the thunder and close the deal.

Matt:  No, I want Pete to be the hero of this entire presentation. Actually I think Paul maybe you are the hero. The Internet apparently in our entire building went down at once so blaming the man today. I appreciate you guys finishing. I know Peter the best part was probably when I was gone. But hopefully you guys talked a little bit about the channel engagement framework which before the break was really exciting.

Just to finish up, let people know how to get a hold of you and learn more about Averetek and how to get a copy of The Channel Engagement Framework.

Peter:  I’m on LinkedIn, Peter A. Thomas, we are at Averetek so it’s Peter@Averetek.com. You can find me on twitter @ThomasPeterA. The Channel Engagement Framework, that’s on or website as are a number of other free resources again we try to give it away as much as we possibly can and we think that’s what it’s all about.

Paul:  Because he says that once you are a teacher then you have earned the right to sell. That’s what he said when you are gone here.

Paul:  I just want to give the name of the website here just so we can get that in. Spell it for us.

Matt:  Thank you Peter so much for perhaps the weirdest Pipeline Radio’s we’ve done in a while. Thanks for sticking with us, thanks Paul for filling in but thanks everyone for listening we will have a replay of this episode on SalesPipelineRadio.com and after the podcast on the iTunes Store on Google play. We will be back at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific with a Grant Cardone. He is a sales speaker, the author of the book 10X, very glad to have covered on the show and have a lot of great episodes and guests plan for the coming spring.

This is Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing. On behalf of our great producer Paul thank you very much for joining us, we will see you next week on Sales Pipeline Radio.

Paul:  All right, the joys of live radio as we salvage the interview and encourage you to come back and hear more each and every week right here on Sales Pipeline Radio.


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