Direct to the Customer and Channel Partner Programs Expand Sales Success

Facing fierce competition, internal sales teams are being challenged like never before to reach the largest amount of potential customers. Manufacturers of multiple broadcast equipment product lines have historically looked to their channel partners—and more recently, unlimited access online resources—for help, but with so many different products and technologies now simultaneously emerging in the marketplace, those efforts have been expanded with new companywide initiatives and online direct-to-customer resources in some cases officially branded to better organize their efforts.

With an ever increasing amount of new information and new products being designed to support 4K, UHD, IP, HDR, audio networking and a host of other technologies, the need for intensive educational programs, both in person and online, have come to the forefront of many corporate sales strategies. These multi-level strategies are most critical to larger companies like Canon, EVSGrass ValleyImagine CommunicationsSonySnell Advanced Media and Vizrt (among many others) who seem to announce new products and systems every six months. Keeping up with new specs and applications—from sales staff and channel partners to customers—can be daunting and all of these companies know it.

One such initiative, recently announced by Grass Valley, is a new educational online blog on its company website, called “Tech Corner”, which plans to provide “helpful, relevant content on the topics and challenges that broadcasters, production professionals and content creators face every day,” according to press materials. As it grows and people begin to use it, Grass Valley said the Tech Corner blog will feature business tips, how-to articles, playbooks and other industry information that customers will find useful as they work to achieve their business goals and deliver great content for their viewers.

“The broadcast and production industries are constantly changing and both seasoned and newly rising professionals need reliable resources to keep them up-to-date,” said Neerav Shah, senior vice president of strategic marketing, Grass Valley. “These new blog pages will give those dedicated to their field a place to learn more about the latest trends and tips with insightful posts by industry thought leaders.”

Neerav Shah, Grass Valley’s senior vice president of strategic marketing, has announced plans for a wide range of online training and on-site customer education efforts.

Neerav Shah, Grass Valley’s senior vice president of strategic marketing, has announced plans for a wide range of online training and on-site customer education efforts.

The company said that through the Tech Corner, readers can learn from the practical experience of a wide variety of experts. Salespeople, product managers, departmental leaders and industry experts will contribute their perspectives as bloggers on the site.

“These industry professionals have a wealth of knowledge to share and this new blog provides an ideal platform,” said Shah.

Another such far-reaching sales initiative comes from Snell Advanced Media (SAM) and it specifically targets SAM’s extensive channel partners, system integrators, resellers, VARs and distributors located around the world. It is clearly necessary, as SAM introduced 35 new products last year and plans to do it again in 2017. It’s becoming more and more of a challenge for our partners to keep up with it all.

The company has established a new Partner Engagement Program that seeks to reach them in the most efficient way—through the Web. In addition to on-site training at the company’s Newbury, UK headquarters the “SAM Academy” will include an array of online webinars, videos and training sessions, which could be headed by a virtual trainer or product manager with extensive (and first-hand) product knowledge.

The company is also talking about organizing its training materials into region-specific “e-learning modules” that provide the right information to the right people, wherever they might be located.

Vincent Eade, Head of Channel Management & Marketing at SAM, said channel partners are more important than ever before.

Vincent Eade, Head of Channel Management & Marketing at SAM, said channel partners are more important than ever before.

“UHD and uncompressed 4K might be important to one market, whereas IP is a growing interest in another,” said Vincent Eade, Head of Channel Management & Marketing at SAM. “We’ve got to identify those regionalized trends and support them accordingly. There’s no point in trying to push 4K when a country is still in the middle of an HD upgrade. We recognize that different people consume materials in different ways, so we have to offer an array of choices in order to engage the biggest audience possible.”

Besides its hands-on training in Newbury, and the web, SAM also plans a number of road shows throughout North America and Asia to offer on-site education, although a firm schedule has not been announced. Many of SAM's competitors are also planning traveling road shows to reach the customers where they work.

“We see our partners as a very important part of our growth plans,” Eade said, “ and in light of the vast amount of information that must be distributed, our partners are more important than ever before.”

Indeed, virtually every company’s strategy includes, or certainly must, using their extensive sales channel partners as a direct pipeline to the customer. In-house sales staffs simply can't do it all. Certainly, the concept of reaching out in new and creative ways is not a new idea, but one that has become more important with time. It’s now crucial to increasing business across multiple product lines and strengthening external channel sales in both developed and emerging markets.

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