The Rise of Influencer Programs in B2B Channel Sales
By: Steven Kellam
Cristiano Ronaldo, Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner and Duane Johnson are just a few of today’s top social media influencers – transforming influencer programs into a more than $6.5 billion industry. In a B2C world, this is no surprise large CPGs, luxury brands and consumer-focused companies across all verticals understand the power of the “influencer.” However, can the power of influencer programs be translated into a B2B and/or a B2E environment? Larry Walsh of The 2112 Group thinks it can and dives into the many benefits of a robust and organized influencer programs in channel sales.
During a lively discussion on the upcoming ChannelEdge Podcast, hosted by Steven Kellam of 360insights, Walsh offers valuable insight into the new ways B2B brands are leveraging influencer programs as the next big thing to move the channel. Brand evangelists do more than just offer referrals. As communicated during the podcast, a well-planned, strategic B2B influencer program can usher in new levels of trust, loyalty and engagement within the channel – resulting in more sales.
According to The 2112 Group’s recent B2B Influencer Success Factors report, “partnering with influencers who will showcase your product and offer their own tips on how to interact with it, in conjunction with your brand’s words of advice, can reassure the buyer of their purchase and ensure they’re getting the most out of it, so that they, in turn, become influencers or advocates for your brand.”
- Cast a wide net: In order to understand how to motivate influencers, you need to know where to find them. Influencers may look and behave very differently from traditional channel partners. They may dwell deep inside their specific vertical, where they have extensive knowledge and expertise – making them a trusted resource. Finding them is key.
- Share what works: Tracking the effectiveness of influencer efforts may be difficult – as it’s often a more intimate, conversational exchange. However, implementing a more formal B2B program with specific, trackable metrics (leveraging an automated platform like the Channel Success Platform) can be the answer to understanding the data and results – transforming both into actional business outcomes.
- Target influencers with purpose: Money motivates, but effective training, targeted and personalized marketing does too. Leveraging the right mix of channel incentives (i.e. SPIFFs, MDF/CoOp, etc.), along with a digital marketing program with hyper-personalized messaging, can work together to motivate the right B2B influencer in the channel.
Influencers with honest, informed opinions can provide loads of pertinent data. They’ve already walked a day in the salesperson’s shoes and can provide detailed and candid reports on how it felt. It’s their job to do so, as influencers are, by trade, excellent communicators and usually have the brand’s best interest at heart. Therefore, executing a formal channel influencer campaign can offer an excellent supplemental sales-bolstering tactic that works well with other incentive, marketing and engagement efforts already in play. It also can reassure that these same influencers are transforming other channel salespeople, delighted with their experiences, into new influencers and advocates. See the snowball effect happening here?