So why shouldn’t we change how market development funds (MDF) are used in the market? They should, and they are, and vendors that have yet to move in this new direction really should evaluate why not. If they don’t, the competition will, and then gain an advantage.
MDF has been splintered in many vendor organizations and strayed from its singular objective to drive more sales through the solution provider who is using the soft dollars provided by the vendor. In short, approvals of use that had little chance of driving demand became commonplace, and those bad habits have been ingrained among many solution providers.
The movement now is toward putting guardrails along the MDF roadway and steering their use toward activities that produce sales engagement. Every dollar won’t drive a sale, but by limiting how they are spent, more will.
The most innovative vendors, in my opinion, are not only putting the guardrails up, they are pushing their solution provider partners to do more as well. Some top-tier channel players I know totally maximize the MDF available to them and put great salespeople on the leads they generate.
Instead of complaining that the lead didn’t materialize as soon as they get an objection, these salespeople ask the right questions, engage in the right conversations with customers, and turn leads into sale. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens a lot and those partners that put rookie inside salespeople on a sales lead without that ability to handle objections are missing opportunities.
We are still early in this shift and some vendors are further along than others, but eventually, this is going to be the norm and vendor channel managers need to ask themselves if they want to lead this shift or follow others.