Putting a channel partner program in place at your business doesn’t mean you’ll get an unending flow of sales. Channel partners will usually work hard for your business but what if the activity falls short of your sales expectations? It could be that you are managing to blue sky expectations but maybe you need to help them help you. A little pivot or course correction may be all that’s needed. We have some ideas on how to help your channel partners do more for you.
Provide the right training and onboarding
You can’t expect channel partners to sell what and how you want if you don’t provide direction. Channel partners are an extension of your sales organization so they should have access to appropriate sales training at all times. Make sure your onboarding process is strong and covers everything your channel partners need to understand your business, products and way of engaging with customers.
Proper training is critical too. You can’t just onboard new channel reps and forget about them. They need to be included in sales training initiatives each time you host training for your own sales force. Be sure to support in frequent and regular communications especially if there are sales challenges with a particular product or solution.
Provide the appropriate tools
This may seem like a no-brainer but you simply must give channel partners the correct tools to sell your products. One of the most important things you can do to get channel partners in sync with more sales is to provide customizable pieces of content. You never have to worry about incorrect messaging going to prospects and customers if you provide current sales tools with some level of customization.
You should also consider lead prospecting, lead management and sales automation tools so they can identify and nurture leads appropriately.
Signed commitment to objectives
Even though digital communications facilitate make connections easier than ever, companies still have challenges managing channel partners scattered around the world. Limited in-person conversations can create occasions for mixed messaging and misunderstanding. One way to make sure everyone is working toward the same goal is to ask channel partners to sign a document outlining the expectations and objectives of the relationship.
This may seem unnecessary because you have aligned with who you think are reputable partners, however, the channel relationships, more than any other, require a commitment to sales and to your business. It’s vitally important that everyone is on the same page regarding target markets, strategies, tactics, responsibilities, resources and ROI expectations.
Rewards campaigns create enthusiasm and sales
Who doesn’t love an opportunity to win awards? Channel partners have competitive spirits and want to win for you and for themselves. So why not create a little excitement occasionally in the form of a rewards campaign? Businesses have used channel incentives for years to reward sales, drive new behavior and reposition for new opportunities.
Incentives can be great motivators but it’s good to understand that overwhelming partners with frequent campaigns can work against them. If there is a steady diet of ad hoc incentives, however, channel partners may tire of them and not participate because the rewards are not worth the effort.
Keep communications and feedback wide open
Phone. Email. Texts. Skype. Zoom. We all have access to them. Now use them. Landing a sale with a new prospect could make or break sales objectives but if your channel partner can’t reach you regarding some details, the deal could walk away. Make yourself available in regular and spontaneous communications.
And if you don’t do anything else, take partner feedback into consideration. They’re on the front lines and can tell you what potential customers are saying about you and your products. Listen, of course. And then act. It could be the difference between being in a consideration set or being completely ignored.
Channel partnerships can go awry for a variety of reasons. Poor training. No buy-in. One-way communications. Lack of product or business knowledge. And on and on. Don’t join the roster of channel failures simply because you didn’t pay attention to some simple tactics.
Define a feasible plan. Onboard appropriately. Offer training on every aspect of products. Keep communications wide open. And most importantly, make your channel partners feel like real partners. They want to succeed. And they want you to succeed. Make sure you’re giving them the tools and environment to do just that. Help them do more for you and you’ll see healthy sales and loyalty.
The move to add a channel partner initiative to your business was a smart one. Sales and influencing can be upgraded tremendously when worked appropriately. But if you want to see real sales increases, help your channel partners help you. Don't let up on the relationships. Listen to what they need from you and then deliver on it. You'll find that sweet spot when it all comes together and it's a win-win for everybody.
The Hands-On Guide to Through Partner Marketing
Practical advice for tech vendors on the how, what, and why behind successful through-partner marketing.
In this ebook, We’ll be discussing full spectrum channel programmes that include multiple touchpoints and we’ll also look to detail a standard bill of materials that can be used as a starting point or checklist for future campaigns.
With that in mind, it’s time to go exploring.Download