As part of recognizing Justin and the Loqate Partner Team he leads, we sat down with him to learn more about building a go-to-market (GTM) strategy for partners and the Loqate Global Partner Program.
Q: Over the past five years, you have built and grown Loqate’s partner business by more than 200% - What key learnings can you share about the challenges and value of having a GTM through partners?
Our successes can be attributed to our becoming an extension of our partner’s teams rather than just vendors. A few years ago, people were still operating under an old interpretation of the channel business. One where you stand next to the fax machine and wait for the orders to come in. We have since evolved, building direct marketing and direct sales relationships that empower us to become active partners and eventually get in front of end users. I think the real significance there is showing the actual value of the relationship to the sellers–that means answering the question: What is in it for them? Ultimately, the sellers are most interested in the factors critical to their key business processes: i.e., the user experience
Q: How can a partner team develop winning relationships with their customers?
I think there's a tendency to place every partner, seller, and end user in a box. This limits our understanding of them on an individual level. A value-driven customer-partner relationship should be hands-on, attentive, and symbiotic. Developing this requires you to define the end user and determine the impact your business can have on their success. In Loqate’s case, we are our partners’ global address and geocode data specialists so they don’t have to be. We find out what is important to sellers and their customers and deliver value accordingly.
By establishing what their target markets are and their particular buyer personas, we can educate our sellers on how best to communicate with their audiences. There are three types of partners: Invested Partners, Absent Partners, and One-Way Partners. The key is to be an invested partner who cares enough about the partner relationship and maintaining a mutually beneficial balance to lean in whenever needed. Signing a partner deal and coming to an agreement to have your product embedded or resold, that's the starting line, not the finish line.
Q: What are the most significant investments you made into the channel business in the last year?
Over the past year, most of our partners who operate in multiple market segments have shifted resources to the segments doing well or thriving during this period. Partner acquisitions have accelerated. We have aligned our channel strategy to be customized to each partner based on how their business is doing and an analysis of their revenue growth in the past year.
We’ve identified technological improvements to our core product, built a global business case, secured board support & funding, and assembled a global team of experts to implement. Our partner community will benefit from the advanced product developments, which will enable them to deliver richer cutting-edge solutions to their customers as the acceleration of digital commerce continues to drive demand.
Q: What one market force is having the most significant impact on your company’s channel strategy for 2021, and how are you accommodating for it?
COVID-19 has fast-tracked the already in-progress rise of digitalization, and the underlying computing trends (cloud/hybrid cloud) that support it. As a result, our channel strategy has seen a shift to accelerate our technological investment in order to meet the resulting demand from our partners. Even as the world reopens, many realize that we are not going to put the genie back in the bottle.
Habits are formed, and the amount of customer data that companies collect (customer registrations, digital transactions, etc.) will continue to increase. Maybe not at the spike that we saw in 2020, but in 2021, we will see a continued migration from offline to online. The nature of computing to accommodate digitalization is driving the B2B applications that we sit inside of. By making our products more compatible with those computing strategies and what the end users desire, we will see the most development.
Q: What things should channel partners do to succeed in 2021?
In 2021, our partners' biggest challenge is the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic and how it may impact customers from Enterprise to Mid-Market level. Most of our channel partners sell business-to-business software, so our sellers are used to face-to-face interactions, going to conferences, and meeting new people elsewhere. But in these times, we don’t see our partners at all, and they face the same issues with their own partners.
Because we will likely not see a return to face-to-face interaction until the end of the year, channel partners need to express value to clients and prospects virtually. We have all learned how to do this somewhat effectively, but honing messaging to express a customer-obsession will separate our partners from their competition.
Our 2021 channel business is rooted in helping our sellers become more effective virtually, especially when meeting new prospects. Meaning we will be aligning product capability and crafting & sharing creative materials that will enable them to become more effective virtually. And that ability comes from being an invested partner that actively communicates with and understands what the partner’s priorities are quarter by quarter. Ultimately, success for the channel partners will depend on the strength of the partner relationship and collaboration. A genuine partner relationship means that you interact, you talk, and you solve any problems that arise together.
About Loqate’s Global Partner Program
Loqate is the leading developer of global Address Verification and Geocode solutions. Loqate curates and develops premium global location reference datasets and verification technology engines, enabling our customers to continuously update, standardize and enrich address and geocode databases across their applications.
Our partner program is designed to allow our partners to offer, build or enhance their data capability and products across various applications, leveraging our market-leading address verification, predictive type-ahead technology, and geocoding products.
Click here to learn more.