5 marketing opportunities for IT resellers
IT reseller marketing: your buyers have gone online - find out how to adapt your lead-generation strategy to take advantage of the latest changes and grow.
Published: 02 Feb 2021
5 minutes read
IT resellers and service companies are facing a rapidly changing sales and marketing landscape. The B2B buyer has changed, and so too must the seller, meaning that many professional marketers and sales leaders are being presented with brand new challenges - and opportunities.
This blog looks at five of the biggest challenges, and how you can turn them into valuable opportunities for your business using inbound marketing. If you’re not familiar with inbound, start here. In the context of this article, it refers to creating valuable content that is aligned to the needs of the buyer, mapping this to your sales funnel, and ultimately converting your leads into customers. Using email marketing, high level gated content, and automation, you attract only the best leads to your business, and allow buyers to find you, not the other way around.
The old IT marketing techniques aren’t working anymore
There have been a huge amount of changes in the software and hardware industry, and as an agency that works within the IT sector, we’ve noticed these have happened increasingly over the last five years. Gone are the days that trade shows ruled, and exhibitions in the technology space are disappearing. Publications that used to dominate news and analysis in those markets are making the shift to online, or are dropping off the face of the earth.
With the industry leaning towards digital marketing, it’s essential that tech marketers and IT resellers look at a different approach. Traditional PR, advertising and trade show lead generation is getting more and more difficult, and without adapting to the new buyer, many businesses could find themselves being left behind. It’s not just the traditional forms of marketing, either - “old-school” tactics like telemarketing and unsolicited emails are also becoming less popular, as they take up time and money at best, and violate GDPR law at worst. Marketers say that outbound methods produce less valuable leads, and this isn’t something that should be ignored. It’s time for a new way of generating leads - inbound.
Here are four of the main reasons that traditional marketing methods just don’t work anymore (especially for tech companies and IT resellers):
Buyers have learned to ignore interruptive marketing
It’s easy to ignore marketing in the modern world, as it’s everywhere. You can’t step out in the street, go online, or even sit in your own home without seeing an advert somehow, and every buyer is exposed to this, all day, every day. 54% of internet users don’t click ads because they don’t trust them (yikes), and there are over 18000 complaints about telemarketing every year.
With inbound marketing, it is much more likely that you will be found. Google’s latest algorithm changes are prioritising topical content like blog articles, which are part of a much larger inbound strategy. Instead of continuing with old methods that aren’t performing, tech companies should focus on B2B blogging, engaging with prospects via social media platforms like LinkedIn, and even posting on online forums to provide solutions to common IT or tech woes. The trick is to make sure that you are offering solutions, not just interrupting your prospects.
The IT buyer has gone online, and the balance of power has shifted
It’s not necessarily that the buying process itself has changed, but more the way that buyers carry out this process. The majority of IT buyers now start their journey online, researching what their problem is and potential solutions long before they speak to an actual salesperson.
This is a huge change. In the past, buyers had no choice but to pick up the phone and speak to a salesperson directly, particularly if they were looking to make a big purchase like software or new tech. This isn’t necessary any more, and represents a huge challenge in the traditional ‘solution sales’ model. The B2B buyer already has all the answers, and likely already knows a great deal about your product, and it’s now your responsibility to sell it in a way that acknowledges this. The buyer now holds all of the cards - making it more difficult to rely on old models.
Inbound marketing helps IT resellers address this issue by using online content to answer the questions asked by B2B buyers early on in the process. If your buyers are searching online, you want them to find your content first, and with content aligned to each stage of the buyer’s journey, you are more likely to nurture them into customers. Tech resellers can be the first contact for potential buyers, and influence their perspective using high quality educational information and advice.
The popularity of cloud computing and software as a service
While many buyers appreciate the speedy implementation, better use of IT resources and pricing models associated with cloud computing, it does challenge many providers of IT services. Not only does the pricing model cause potential havoc with a reseller’s cash flow, with smaller regular payments, but cloud software allows the vendor to sell directly to the end user, without the use of a reseller.
Due to this, many software companies have had to adjust. Some ERP vendors like SAP only market their Business One product through their partner network, whereas other companies like Sage have developed cloud versions of their original software, improving functionality as time goes on. By adapting in this way, they can operate a direct sale, as well as working with a channel model. Other entries into the financial software market like Xero manage much of the buyer process directly through their website alone.
Lots of tech and IT companies are headed towards cloud computing for a simple reason - cost. The challenge facing IT resellers is then driving the costs of sale down, and inbound marketing can help. If you’re catching prospects at an earlier stage in their buying process, then they are much more likely to convert into customers. Inbound also focuses on drawing leads to you rather than using traditional methods, which are often time-consuming and costly.
Hundreds of vendors in all markets are being replaced by fewer ‘giants’ in the industry. Much like Disney or Coca-Cola keep buying up smaller corporations, in the tech space the top 10 ERP vendors now own 32.1% of the global market, and this number is growing. In the past, IT resellers could compete on the basis of superior technology, but increasingly, buyer shortlists consist of several competing partners selling the same product.
In this context, generic marketing messages around implementation methodologies, special features, and highlighting your partner status mean very little to the buyer. They know about the product, and they know about your partner status. What they want to know is how you can provide added value. Buyers want to know that your company can be trusted to take responsibility for issues, and have the information and knowledge to fix them. You can demonstrate this expertise using content, and building a relationship with potential buyers.
To successfully differentiate themselves from other companies selling the same technology, IT resellers need to focus their marketing not on the product, but rather on the specific pains of their buyer personas. These aren’t defined by job titles or segmentations, but rather people whose challenges, goals and perspectives match your common buyer characteristics. Your persona informs your marketing, and using these throughout the sales process helps to create valuable, informative content helps to attract more leads, and ensures you stand out from the competition.
The growth of content marketing
Content marketing is becoming more popular than ever, with plenty of B2B companies in the tech and IT space opting to create eBooks, blogs, whitepapers, and product brochures to sell their product. However, it’s important to make sure that this content is addressing specific buyer pains, not just being used as a way to push your software product.
Content about products is only interesting to buyers at the end of their decision-making process, and for the most part they are more concerned with how that product can help them meet specific goals and solve difficult challenges. This means that vendor content, or specific product-focused content, is unlikely to be useful for resellers and partners in their marketing journey. This is just one of the reasons why many tech companies say that they use content marketing, but aren’t seeing results!
Fortunately, smaller, more agile companies are much better placed to succeed. The most important element in both content and inbound marketing is using your advice and expertise to provide real, helpful solutions for their issues and give useful advice. This is the kind of knowledge that attracts people to your business, and helps build trust and respect that can ultimately help you close more deals. IT resellers and tech companies can really make use of this, as your sales cycles are longer, the stakes are higher, and each customer is making a sizeable investment with your business. The old marketing methods just don’t set themselves up for this - if you’re working with outbound, you aren’t building the trust.
Not convinced? We’ve created a helpful guide to generate more and better quality leads online. It’s not just what we’ve covered here, but includes tips, tricks and best advice to help you get started with a new, inbound way of thinking. It’s particularly important for IT resellers to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in marketing, and this downloadable guide will give you the tools you need to succeed.