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The first step of a successful marketing strategy is to decide where you want your company to go by identifying and prioritizing your business goals and objectives.
Once you have identified your business goals and objectives, you will have a better idea of where you want your business to go—a strategic direction. Which business goals and objectives do you believe are most important to your company’s future? Sometimes a company’s business goals and objectives compete with, or are inconsistent with, each other. A key element needed to execute a business strategy that supports your business goals and objectives is allocating resources such as time, dollars and people. As we approach the end of the calendar year, managers, owners, executives and other business professionals all over are taking an opportunity to evaluate what worked and didn’t work this year, and to remake commitments, reestablish goals and realign expectations. If something didn’t work, how do you know it didn’t work?  What metrics were you using to evaluate success?  Did you have any?  Were they the right metrics?  For instance, if you were tracking sales, but weren’t tracking anything leading up to the sales, like quotes or meetings or marketing activities, then it would be difficult to know where the problem lies.  Make sure you’re measuring the results of each of the critical steps in your activities. Have you documented all the people, process and dependencies of your program or project?  Can you figure out where things stopped doing well?  Is there something there that you can fix, adjust or measure differently? Is this a problem you need to solve?  What is the cost of not fixing it?  Make sure you prioritize and focus your problem solving to the most important programs and projects, not just the ones with the most visibility. Not so long ago, prospecting and lead generation seemed much easier than it is now: go to some trade shows, send out some direct mailers or e-mail blasts, do some telephone prospecting, and convert the resulting hot leads into sales. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy, but it sometimes seems that way in comparison to today’s tough selling environment.
Some tele-prospecting firms have reported that it typically takes an average of 10 attempted calls just to get a decision-maker on the telephone to schedule an initial meeting. At a typical firm with 100-500 employees an average of seven decision-makers is involved in most major (>$25,000) purchasing decisions today. If there are seven decision-makers, and it takes an average of 10 call-attempts to get a meeting, this means that a salesperson must make an average of 70 call-attempts with the various decision makers– just to schedule an initial meeting with them.
It has been estimated that 700 attempted calls over many months may be needed to complete just one sale. Most quota-carrying salespeople simply do not have the time to spend on these non-selling activities. First, get your salespeople some sales development assistance, either internal or external, to help them spend their valuable sales time more productively.
Second, make sure your sales development resources know how to use social media marketing to get through all of the barriers like automated switchboards, voicemail call-screening with voicemail, and e-mail filters. When used correctly, social media marketing has been shown to help reduce the number of call-attempts needed to complete a sale from 700 to as few as 10, and shorten the sales cycle considerably, from months to weeks. Both conversations have similar themes – how do small business owners grow their businesses? This is not always a good feeling as sometimes it feels like making the wrong decision could mean the end of your business. Having done this a few times myself, with varying levels of success, here are a few things that I would encourage business owners and would-be business owners to consider. Because your business decisions are tied to your income and personal lifestyle – having a clear understanding of this first, will help you with the business decisions of the future. Yet many small businesses (and most channel partners are small businesses) expect their sales consultants to attain their sales goals without a “game plan”— a marketing plan. If you don’t have a marketing plan, you are not alone—many other channel partners don’t have one either.
Not only do many small businesses not have a marketing plan, most do not have a marketing staff. It’s a bit like a football coach asking his team to spend the days before the game writing promotional material for the team, instead of running plays from the game plan on the field.
If you are like many other channel partners, your sales consultants are probably spending a considerable amount of time conducting their own marketing activities to support their individual sales efforts. This dual role takes away from the valuable time they need to spend with customers negotiating and closing sales. Even though sales and marketing are complementary and interdependent functions, continuing to rely on your sales consultants to perform this dual role may become a major hindrance to your company’s sales growth. To help your sales consultants spend their time more effectively and make your business more competitive, you need to develop an effective marketing plan, one that will free up your sales consultants to do what they do best— sell!


At first glance, taking the time to develop a marketing plan may seem burdensome; there may not seem to be enough hours in the day to keep your business running as it is! It may feel like developing a marketing plan will not be a good use of your time, but it is quite possible that one or more of your competitors already have a marketing plan in place or are now developing their marketing plans– and will gain a competitive advantage over your company if you don’t act quickly.
Develop an effective marketing plan that supports your sales efforts and helps your sales consultants spend more time selling.
ICS Partner Direct consultants have helped firms like yours increase their sales and marketing effectiveness and grow their business.
Please contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to help you decide if we can be of assistance to you. As a Solution Provider or Value Added Reseller, you will definitely have been inundated with everything to do with the Cloud – from new technologies, to new products, to competitive initiatives both from other Solution Providers and your regular, trusted vendors, to potential changes to the very core of your business.
However, as the dust settles, it is becoming clear that from an overall perspective, the outlook is good for most Solution Providers.
But with all of this new stuff comes the responsibility for you and your teams to decide what your strategy will be. Then once you have made the decision to establish a set of cloud offers and a cloud practice, or extend and existing managed services practice, or data center practice, you will need to figure out how you and your teams can get ready to deliver.
Once that decision has been made, then the next steps in the process typically include conducting an assessment to understand where you are and what you need to do to get ready, followed by the actual readiness activity itself, which is followed by making sure that the practice as a whole is ready from a Practice Management perspective. Once all of this readiness activity is complete then you can move to the solution cycle which typically consists of the sales, delivery and support of your new cloud solutions. Each of these steps consists of a number of detailed activities that need to be taken into consideration, based on the size and maturity of your organization, and things like existing skills and competencies, and existing processes and methodologies.
These would typically include Sales Training and Technical Training, and formal qualifications such as certifications and specializations – but also include making sure that your teams have everything that they need to be successful, which could include sales guides, marketing templates, and delivery guides and templates. Another key aspect to consider for a cloud practice is that you may have to do all these readiness activities across multiple vendors, which may span hardware, software, and services types of vendors.
To figure out what is needed, it helps to complete some type of Readiness Assessment, so that you can better understand the areas of your practice that may already be ready, and those areas which may require additional readiness, or training, in order to become fully ready to deliver. Then, once you have a better idea of which areas of the business need to be made ready, you can focus on completing those activities.
The first of these will be technical training requirements – these will include both hardware and software training courses which are typically provided by the vendors – and for a cloud practice…these would probably span multiple different vendors.
You would also need to make sure that your services methodology is suitable for the delivery of your cloud solutions and offers, and that your teams have access to suitable templates and tools to ensure consistency and quality engagements.
This also ties to making sure that your content and knowledge management systems are in place and that important information is available and easy to find.
And finally, you will need to make sure that you have any appropriate required infrastructure in place to support the sales and delivery of cloud solutions. Then, once you have all the training in place and the teams have all completed their individual readiness programs, you will need to bring everything together and make sure that as a practice, you are able to effectively generate leads, qualify those leads, turn those leads into sales, and then design, deliver and support those solutions that are sold to you customers. Hopefully I’ve given you a taste of some things that need to be taken into consideration around readiness for a new cloud practice. From our experience working with partners we have found that some of the things they value the most and things that they need the most – apart from training courses – are templates, tools and guides.
Step 2: Create a checklist of the tasks, assign ownership and target dates and identify any inhibiting factors, such as the lack of budget, or training content, etc. Step 3: Work towards completing all of the readiness tasks according to your planning timeline. Step 4: Apply a structured practice management approach to managing and growing the practice. Rypple combines the best qualities of social software with a new approach to performance management-one that empowers managers and their teams to learn faster and perform better.  Rypple is based on 50+ years of behavioral science, focusing on what really keeps people passionate about their work. Badgeville, The Social Loyalty Platform, makes it easy for business leaders, smart marketers and innovative technologists to increase user behavior and conversions with proven techniques from social gaming.
Bunchball’s Nitro platform drives participation, engagement, loyalty and revenue for customers including Syfy, USA Network, Hearst, Meredith, NBC, Comcast, Victoria’s Secret PINK, Resource Interactive, Exent, LiveOps, Warner Bros. BigDoor helps web publishers, marketers and developers grow and engage their communities.  They offer a cost-effective, flexible and easy to use suite of tools to quickly build game mechanics into your online experiences and applications. UserInfuser offered by Cloudcaptive, is an open source platform that provides customizable gamification elements designed to increase user interaction on websites.  The project involves badging, points, live notifications, and leaderboards.


I designed and developed the Mentor Match platform a few years ago, before the hype about Gamification. Grow Fast Grow Right™ focus exclusively on the the development and implementation of powerful and effective growth strategies to increase and maximize share holder value for SMB’s. After you identify your goals and begin to develop your strategy, you may find that the opportunities or your resources are not sufficient to reach your goals, and you may need to re-define your goals and strategy. To do this most effectively usually requires an opportunity analysis of the existing or new markets you are considering pursuing. It was reported that 52% of sales reps in the US did not achieve their sales quota in 2011 (CSO Insights, 2012). How do you know what are the right decisions to make?  Where do you go for advice on what to do? However– your competitors might have one, and an effective marketing plan can provide them with a big competitive advantage! Instead, they rely on their sales consultants to perform both sales and marketing functions. Collaborating and brainstorming with your sales growth team to develop effective sales strategies and tactics for your marketing plan is what is critical to your success, not the plan itself.
Once again, customers are faced with a new technology paradigm, with new terms and nomenclature they don’t understand, with new products and technologies that are difficult to fit into their existing plans and strategies – and this means lots of new opportunities for you, their trusted Solution Provider. This includes all the activities associated with making the decision to establish a new cloud practice, or to add a set of cloud offerings to an existing practice. And there may be different training paths for the different roles in the delivery and support teams. These are also normally specified by the vendors in order to be able to participate in certain channel programs.
This may include provisioning a technical lab and making sure that you have level-3 type back-end technical support available to your teams. Can you share any more information about why you are using “gamification” and specifically how you plan to reduce turnover? This is not only the best book (by far) on this subject, but it is also the most clear, comprehensive, and engaging programming book I’ve read on any subject! The most important outcome is not the marketing plan itself, but the thinking that goes into the planning process. New technology such as e-mail filters that automatically put e-mails from unknown senders in the “junk folder”, and an increased reliance on voicemail to screen calls have made it much more difficult for a salesperson to get through to a possible prospect for even a brief introductory phone call.
Brands, publishers, employers and CPG companies use the Nitro gamification platform to create compelling, meaningful and enjoyable experiences for their users. The author is expert at building concepts at just the right pace to make the subject easy to digest, but he never skips over explaining the why, as well as the how of each concept. I agree with your premise, that it can have a massive impact on productivity when done right.
Chap 6 on controlling the player and overhead multi-axis scrolling (think Gauntlet, or Zelda) is well worth the book’s price alone.
This is typical of the author’s approach of showing you different ways to accomplish what you wish, and suggesting which method to use in different circumstances, but leaving the use of each tool up to you. He even goes so far as to first demonstrate an inferior, but common way of controlling a player’s movement, so the correct method (which immediately follows) will make more sense, leading you to understand why the better method works so well. Chap 9 on platform game physics (think Mario) is superb, and like Chap 6 is worth the book’s price alone. The whole time I read this book I felt like the author was reading my mind, anticipating my questions, and giving me a little more depth where it was needed. When you finish this book, there will be little (if anything) you can’t do in 2D game programming in Flash.



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