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For businesses, technology has the power to streamline workflows, create a more efficient operation, and boost revenue. However, sometimes the pace at which technology advances can be dizzying, making strategic planning and managing channel partner relationships more complicated.

From communicating needs to lead management to distributing content marketing materials, the pain points of partner management can easily be solved with a partner relationship management (PRM) solution. In fact, with a PRM, businesses have seen a 48-percent increase in revenue and the sales cycle  5.5 times shorter, according to a 2017 Aberdeen Group Research Study on channel partner marketing and sales.

 

Here are five common pain points and how a PRM can help:

 

Pain Point #1: “It’s difficult to stay organized over email.”

With a PRM solution, it’s easy to keep tabs on who received which piece of content and where leads are in the buying process. Instead of exchanging emails back and forth to retrieve a case study or content marketing piece, everything is readily available in the PRM 24/7/365. In fact, a robust PRM will offer the ability to pin specific items to a dashboard or homepage for constant easy access to avoid having to send another email asking where something is. Additionally, as a channel partner facilitates the closing of a deal, a PRM offers a library of best practices and recommendations for what the process should look like. This prevents back-and-forth emails between the partner and vendor, which tightens the sale timeline and ultimately improves and streamlines the customer experience.

 

Pain Point #2: “Our channel partners don’t save the files we send.”

If you have partners who are always emailing and asking you to send them the same piece of content, a PRM is the answer. The amount of time spent looking for a file, making sure it’s the right file with back-and-forth emails or calls, and then sending the email—over and over again—equals downtime and lost productivity. Save time and money by putting all of your content in one place so your partners have constant access to all of your resources and feel empowered to sell more efficiently and effectively.

 

Pain Point #3: “Our content isn’t getting to our partners in a timely fashion.”

When it comes to distributing content to your channel partners, time is of the essence. You want them to have the most up-to-date materials the moment they’re ready, but sending out personalized emails can take forever. With a PRM, vendors can deliver content to the platform the moment it’s ready and partners can retrieve it immediately. Also, because a PRM solution is cloud-based, there is no end to the amount of content it can hold—from news and new product information to marketing materials, technical documentation, incentives, and more.

Pain Point #4: “Our partners don’t even know how many resources we have.”

You might have the most engaging, dynamic, and powerful content—but if it lives in an internal database, on Google Drive, or even in a stack on your desk, then chances are your partners don’t know just how much amazing content you have available. Ultimately, this does a disservice to you, your partners, and the customer. Plus, with an internal database, you have to either manage permissions for your partners or send out individual emails every time a partner requests a piece of marketing content. There are plenty of problems with this process, but a PRM platform offers a holistic, robust solution. A PRM allows you to:

 

  • Deliver powerful filtering options based in the inbound marketing methodology
  • Coach partners on specific pieces of content to use at key points in the marketing funnel and sales cycle
  • Customize permissions so partners know if content is downloadable or shareable on social media
  • Recommend similar content based on the type of content the vendor currently uses or is engaged with
  • Provide self-service resources and content 24/7/365

 

The best thing about a PRM solution? If your partners aren’t sure what to ask, they don’t have to spend time emailing back and forth with a vendor to suss out the best piece of content to sell better. The right PRM offers a powerful search function, which means a partner can find what they’re looking for any time, day or night, without resorting to a chain of emails or phone calls. This saves everyone time and money, and streamlines the entire channel partner experience.

 

Pain Point #5: “We want to offer a great partner experience, but we don’t know how.”

For vendors, one of the biggest concerns about a PRM is a fear of losing content and not having control over branding and organizing marketing resources. The great news is that a PRM helps vendors securely put all of their assets in one place on a clean and accessible platform. Whether you want to share a PowerPoint presentation, video, case study, white paper, fact sheet, or other type of file, a PRM can handle it all. You can even organize your content around topic clusters, so your partners have all the content they need about a specific, competitive scenario in order to win the client. Your partners will also benefit from cobranding opportunities, self-service training, and even gamification based on leads or certifications gained, which helps drive partner engagement with the PRM.

Channel sales processes are, in many cases, becoming complex and difficult to manage. Now is the time to choose the right tool to help you work seamlessly and efficiently with your partners—and to help your company stand out from the crowd. Download the 2018 Allbound Partner Relationship Management Guide to learn more about how a top-notch solution can take your channel sales to the next level.

 

The post 5 Pain Points a PRM Solution Can Help You Solve appeared first on Partner Relationship Management Software (PRM).

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Referrals make money — at least 16 percent more over the course of their relationship with your business, actually.

Yet marketing agencies tend to trail behind other types of companies when it comes to formalized referral programs. Oftentimes agencies just don’t know where to start, because referral programs for services aren’t as straightforward or automated as those for consumer-focused companies, which typically have lower price points. But failing to institute a formalized referral program can cost you potential clients.

In this post, we’ll go over three simple ways to start generating referrals for your marketing agency, so you can boost your lead-generation efforts.

Addressing the elephant in the room: Referral discounts

I often hear from marketing agency operations teams that referral discounts are not an option for professional services. Since services have a higher price point, longer sales cycle, and are generally more ‘professional’ in nature, referral discounts seem both inappropriate and not cost-effective.

I would argue that neither of those preconceptions are true. For one, there aren’t many reasons why a happy client would be opposed to discounts or freebies. If you’re doing quality work with them, they’ll genuinely want to refer you to their friends anyway, and a bonus or discount is just a cherry on top. That said, if you have a strained relationship with the client, they’ll likely see a referral discount as pandering and disingenuous. Be selective about who you offer referral discounts to, but also ensure you provide consistent service that makes all your clients happy enough to refer you to their peers on their own.

Secondly, a modest but worthwhile discount or bonus is cost-effective in the long run — as long as you price it accordingly and aren’t too lenient with the policy. For example, consider offering a 10 percent discount for a month’s worth of services for a long-term, low-spend retainer client. Wait to pay out the discount until the referral becomes a client, since this prevents your clients from abusing the system and can also lead to more qualified referrals.

For larger clients with significant spend, offering a percentage-based discount isn’t necessarily cost-effective. In these cases, consider instead offering them a free audit or other one-off service relevant to their needs. For example, if you handle paid media for a client who would also benefit from your SEO services, offer them a free site audit in exchange for a referral who becomes a client. Aside from earning a new client, you’ll also open the door for expanding your relationship with the referring client, too.

Link up with complementary businesses for mutual referrals

Company partnerships are a less client-facing method of generating referrals. The key here is to find services you don’t offer, and have no plans of offering any time soon (or ever). A simple way to do this is to have your sales team consistently track service offerings your clients ask for often enough to be of note, but not so often that your CEO wants to invest resources into making it a full-fledged service offering. For example, if you run a small agency strictly focused on web development but you have clients asking for SEO services, you could find an SEO agency partner who doesn’t offer web development.

In doing so, you open up your pool of potential clients without having to rely on your own clients to do the referring. Plus, your agency partner already does some vetting on your behalf to make sure the client is a good fit, which makes for a bit less work on your end as well.

Be selective with your case studies

It can be tempting to crank out case studies for any client that saw positive results with your company, but the most compelling ones come from clients who are well-known, have above-average results, or worked with you on particularly unique projects. You’ll want to highlight how your marketing services not only generated short-term revenue, but also helped set them on a long-term track to marketing success.

And, of course, be sure to circulate your case studies on social media and via email. If you work with large enough brands or have a niche market, chances are the prospects seeing your posts and emails are familiar with the client in the case study. Even better, they may know someone who works there and ask them for more information about your marketing agency.

Agency referral marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right combination of referral discounts, partner programs, and case studies, you can easily reap the benefits of a structured referral program.

Do you have questions or best practices about setting up a referral program for your agency? Head to the CallRail Community to connect with other marketing professionals and share your thoughts.

The post 3 ways to get more referrals for your marketing agency appeared first on CallRail.

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Hello, and welcome to your favorite recurring segment on the CallRail blog: News You Can Use. We review the latest marketing and technology news, and break down what it all could mean for your business.

In our crazy and constantly changing world, it’s already hard enough to stay on top of the news, so we’re here to lighten your load a little. Because (as is our mantra) staying on top of the latest news isn’t just good civics — it’s good for business.

1) Facebook breach exposes personal data for millions of accounts (NY Times)

Facebook has revealed that the personal data of up to 50 million accounts was accidentally exposed due to a security flaw in the platform.

Coming just months after the furor over the company’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica data-leaking scandal, this latest breach is reportedly the largest in the company’s history. But unlike previous Facebook data breaches, this vulnerability actually allowed hackers to compromise and take control of the affected accounts, rather than just harvest personal data from them.

Facebook has come under intense criticism over the past 2 years for its handling of previous data-leaking scandals, as well as how foreign governments and extremist groups have exploited the platform in order to spread propaganda and misinformation.

US and European lawmakers have begun calling for additional inquiries into the incident — marketers and businesses should expect to see a renewed push for regulation of the tech industry. It remains to be seen how much more bad news can be weathered by tech’s major players before we start to see a concerted push for serious regulation of online platforms, including digital marketing services.

2) Amid bear market rumblings, investors eye Netflix as tech stock bellwether (Reuters)

As one of the illustrious and high-performing FANG (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google) tech stocks, Netflix has always been something of a weathervane for the market performance of the wider tech industry. Traditionally, FANG and other technology stocks have been a safe bet for investors due to high growth and rate of return.

But after the last few bouts of market volatility, investors are starting to shy away from FANG’s major players in favor of a more diversified approach to tech investment. At root is the declining performance of bond yields on Netflix’s debt — investors are becoming concerned that the company will not be able to sustain its current level of growth, and that the huge debts amassed by the company will eventually become worthless.

Investors expect that Netflix’s bond values will begin to flatten out in the coming months, presaging a wider correction among tech stocks. However, it’s important to note that this correction is only expected for tech’s big players, like FANG, due to overheated bond values — analysts expect that the tech industry will generally continue to show sustained growth in the months to come.

3) Apple to release original content and programming for device owners (CNBC)

In a surprise announcement, Apple revealed that they will be unveiling a new digital video service in early 2019 that will combine original programming, á la Netflix, along with subscription services from legacy TV and media companies, such as HBO.

The original content will be free to owners of Apple devices, while individual subscriptions will allow users to pay for programming from channels like Starz and Showtime. Apple is spending a reported $1 billion on original content in 2018, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that 24 shows are in development.

The success or failure of this venture will depend largely on the quality of programming Apple is able to publish, just as it was with the Stranger-Things-driven success of Netflix. With streaming services becoming an increasingly lucrative channel for ad revenue — especially when compared to traditional TV — marketers will want to keep a close eye on Apple’s latest venture.

4) Google Plus to shut down after failing to disclose massive data leak (Wall Street Journal)

Hot on the heels of the latest Facebook breach, Google has revealed that it will be shutting down Google Plus after the service suffered a massive data leak for hundreds of thousands of users.

A bug in the service’s API allowed app developers to access data not just for users who had granted it permission, but also for all of their friends. (If this sounds familiar, it’s the exact same kind of vulnerability that Cambridge Analytica exploited during the previous Facebook data-leaking scandal.)

Google has come under intense criticism for its handling of the leak: The breach took place in early 2018, but the company waited months before finally informing users, reportedly in order to avoid a public relations nightmare similar to Facebook’s troubles.

As with the previous scandals, investors and marketers should brace for further calls for additional oversight and regulation of the tech industry, including digital ad tech platforms.

5) Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool due to gender bias (Reuters)

After secretly deploying AI-powered software that can scan incoming resumes to highlight qualified applicants, Amazon has discontinued its use of the program due to patterns of gender bias that appeared in its results.

With automation driving so much Amazon’s success — and with similar resume-screening software in use across many top companies worldwide — this technology was touted inside Amazon as a potential ‘holy grail’ for personnel management.

The program functioned by screening a decade’s worth of resumes that had previously been sent to Amazon, and then weighing future applicants against the data gathered on the best-performing candidates. But since a disproportionate number of resumes came from men, the algorithm learned to favor male candidates over females, and penalize work experience categorized as ‘feminine.’

“In effect, Amazon’s system taught itself that male candidates were preferable,” Reuters reported. Men vastly outnumber women in the technology industry, and most top tech companies are putting serious effort into hiring more women and building more diverse workforces.

Here at CallRail, we’re bullish about the prospects of our AI-driven future, and we don’t exactly try to hide it. Still and all, we like to think that Amazon’s example will serve as a cautionary tale that more tech companies should follow as we enter a world increasingly dominated by AI, machine learning, and algorithms. It’s not just enough to build great technology — you have to put in the effort to ensure that your technology is actually making people’s lives better.

Do you have concerns about how this technology news could affect the wider business landscape? Head to the CallRail Community to connect with other marketing professionals and share your thoughts.

The post News You Can Use: Facebook and Google data breaches, Apple plans original programming appeared first on CallRail.

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This past August, WebPT hosted an open forum-style webinar during which we took all of your hardest-hitting, most mission-critical billing questions—and answered them to the best of our ability. One of the most common questions we received had to do with incident-to billing—and it’s easy to see why. After all, you can’t just slap any old NPI number on a claim—particularly when you’re billing Medicare—and expect to get paid.

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