In a recent post I mentioned that most channel partners sell multiple products, sometimes even those of your competition, and that their sales teams will focus on what is easiest for them to sell and what puts the most money in their pockets. After all, it is in their DNA.
So, with that insight in mind, as you focus on channel partner management, here are some tips to encourage them to sell your products over your competition.
Tip 1: Limit the number of channel partners.
Having more channel partners does not automatically equate to them closing more deals. Often times, when companies have too many partners, they can’t support them adequately and sales suffer. Another challenge is if partners start competing with each other, they may create a price war for your product which hurts your company.
Tip 2: Invest heavily in training your channel partners.
Ideally, channel partner sales training should be intensive with frequent refresher training options and a formalized plan for on-boarding new sales associates at the channel partner so they are ramped up on your product offerings quickly. After all, they will sell what they know! In addition, your channel partners’ sales reps need top quality sales support tools, such as competitive data sheets, sales scripts, selling videos, testimonials as well as the usual brochures and product spec sheets.
Tip 3: Support your channel sales teams every step of the way
Particularly if a channel partners is using your product in new ways or customizing it for a particular industry, they’ll need support in the sales cycle. Dedicate a channel partner manager and technical resources, as applicable, and make sure that communication is frequent between your company and your partner. This will have a direct correlation to the success of the partnership.
Tip 4: Offer sales incentives and create sales competitions within a partner organization.
Back to my previous comment about sales professionals- it is in their DNA to be competitive and to really appreciate recognition in the form of money and special opportunities. If your company can create incentives what make sales more likely to sell your product then it is a win-win for everyone. Ideas could be bonuses, tickets to a special game in their area, credits towards attending a regional training session, etc.
Tip 5: Invest in marketing
A good way to ensure channel loyalty is to help with the channel’s marketing efforts, such as through market development funds. However, don’t just give them money, provide some accountability for them and ask that there is a way to measure the impact of what they spend it on and ideally this is a tie to ROI.
Tip 6: Give them qualified and hot leads
It sounds obvious, but giving partners qualified leads is a lot more effective than just a list of names or a laundry list of contacts who came to your website as an example. The more you can do to qualify prospects, the more likely the channel partner’s sales team will be to invest time in the leads you pass to them. So ultimately, develop a strong lead qualification and nurture process and pass to partners only those leads which make sense.
Want more tips? We’ve been helping clients for years with their channel partner recruitment and management and would be happy to share more insights on works and what doesn’t. Please give us a call at 800.926.1754.