Last week I visited a client that sells large tube processing equipment to attend their open house with customers from all over the country. They had just launched a new laser cutting line and were showing it off to existing customers and prospects.
A guy walked up to the owner and said 'we looked at a bunch of laser manufacturers and have narrowed it down to 2 companies, you and another. We eliminated 3 others based on features, price and reputation after doing our research. Can we talk about a proposal?'
The inbound marketing movement has led to lots of interesting discussion around sales approaches. That's understandable - after all, as buyers have more tools at their disposal to self serve and avoid sales people, it's reasonable that more than marketing needs to change. Foresightful companies are creating a continuum of prospect experience with an inside sales person as the quarterback.
That's a tall order though. Org chart changes have to be CEO driven - and most of the work I see underway in companies is intra vs. inter departmental. In other words, the marketing department recognizes they have to adapt to digital and undertakes to do so. But the sales department, with a different perspective, leadership, and priorities continues down their narrowing path.
That's creating lots of waste and inefficiency - and companies can ill afford either.
While I see many examples of waste, three pervasive obsessions exist. These include:
While it was previously a task left largely to sales partners, today's vendors that sell through an indirect channel should be taking a much more active role in lead generation and management. It's one of those "everybody wins" scenarios. You are more in charge of increasing sales, while your partners get the one thing they value most: more qualified leads!
Of course, major changes to lead management strategies can be a serious challenge to any company which had previously been relying on their partners, especially established firms who've been in business for awhile. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that changes in buying behavior are impacting the traditional roles of vendor and channel partner.
No matter how you currently manage leads, understanding your strategy for lead generation is the first big step towards optimizing your processes. These six questions will help you assess your current state, while illustrating new opportunities for improvement.
Between the rise of inbound marketing, and the rapid changes in buyer behavior in the past few years, online marketing is a whole new world. For the adventurous channel manager and marketing team, this can be an exciting prospect. New methods for acquiring leads are being discovered all the time, while also finding ways to reduce overall spends for improved marketing ROI.
This is vital for indirect sales organizations, because it opens up entirely new avenues for lead-gathering. It's no longer a good idea to leave sales and marketing solely up to partners. Vendors must now be active participants in the online marketing process, discovering and curating leads which are then passed on to the right sales partner in a timely manner.
An indirect sales channel lives or dies based on the success of its sales partners, but it's up to you to support them effectively to strengthen your business. Clearly, success is the end result. Getting there usually starts with selecting the right partners.
This can be a tricky balancing act, especially for companies relatively new to indirect sales. It's easy to take a "beggars can't be choosers" attitude, and onboard any potential partner simply for the sake of building an ecosystem quickly. However, such an indiscriminating recruitment strategy will eventually create real problems that could have been avoided by being more selective.
Today, we wanted to take a look at some of the issues surrounding the matter of partner selection, and offer up some suggestions for how to find the best sales partners for your business.
The online world is full of software solutions claiming to solve some business problem or another. What makes Partner Relationship Management (PRM) different, and why is it a better option for accelerating channel sales than the landscape of other solutions available?
PRM is a relatively new category of B2B software solutions, so it's understandable that it's also somewhat misunderstood. As the creators of a PRM solution that has been around since 2003, we wanted to address some of the questions we frequently hear about PRM and help you decide whether PRM is the right solution for your indirect sales challenges.
For basically twenty years, pop-up ads have been considered one of the biggest problems with online browsing - at least for the users. On the advertisers' side, they were seen as one of the safest and most reliable forms of online advertising. This has resulted in an escalating technology race, with user-side applications continually looking for ways to block pop-ups, and pop-up creators looking for ways to bypass those blocks.
Well, if you or any of your sales partners are heavily invested in pop-ups on your websites, the debate may have finally been settled - and not in your favor.
Google recently announced that it will soon start cracking down on websites utilizing certain forms of pop-up ads. While this is not yet a blanket attack on all pop-ups, it seems very likely Google will continue down this path. The pop-up ad may finally be doomed.
(And good riddance, as far as we're concerned.)
So, let's take a look at what's changing and how it may affect the online advertising you and your partners engage in.
I just received my third unsolicited email of the day and it's 1:00 in the afternoon. This only includes the ones that made it through my spam filter. I’m not kidding just because it would be dramatic in the context of this article. It happens pretty much every day.
1st one - Subject: Quik Chat. Offering "..free software that helps small to medium sized businesses eliminate headaches & paperwork involved in administrative tasks".
2nd one - Subject: Legal for LogicBay. Offering: "...(several companies I never heard of) have relied on us to supplement their existing law firm – while saving 60% on legal bills..."
3rd one - Subject: Can We Help Build Mobile Products or UX/UI Design Offering: (States they started up in 2013 and have all kinds of famous companies as clients). "Could you be so kind and let me know interest. If so, can I have your convenient time and contact number to set up a call & discuss further in detail."
In a perfect world, every sales channel would be a great performer... but this isn't a perfect world. In reality, any indirect sales ecosystem is going to have over-performers and under-performers. It's a familar adage: 80% of the performance comes from 20% of the channel.
One of the things that separates the truly great channel managers from all the rest is having the ability to bring the under-performers up to par. After all, most of the time simply eliminating the sales channel isn't a good choice. It's occasionally necessary, but should be considered a true last resort when, generally, working smarter to re-engage your channel partners will be a much less costly option.
This will almost certainly require some time and hands-on intervention, but when done properly, the right tools and strategies can help you breath new life into an underperforming channel program.
Just because your organization relies on indirect sales channels to do the selling doesn't mean your partners have to do all the heavy-lifting. Given the ways that buyer behavior has changed, the role of your partners is less about demand generation and more about closing business. This means they will be relying more on your ability to help them market your products and services.
In today's wired and continuously-connected world, vendors who go out of their way to support channel partner marketing efforts are almost certain to be rewarded in multiple ways. Besides simply increasing sales - which is really the primary goal - you can easily separate yourself as a vendor that sales partners truly want to represent. Whether you're fighting for market share, or looking to extend into new verticals, that sort of distinction can easily be the deciding factor.