The “honeymoon” period with channel sales partners doesn’t last very long. At first, they might be excited about the opportunity to sell your products and they foresee a profitable relationship with your company. As the relationship progresses and there are barriers in place to new channel partners reaching their customers with your products, they will quickly get frustrated and start to wonder if they made a mistake choosing to sell your brand.
This is a classic case of lost mindshare with your partners. Because your company is difficult to work with, channel partners naturally turn to competing brands with easier processes for communication and collaboration. There are ways to get them back (by optimizing the indirect sales channel for increased sales), but the bigger issue is understanding how you lost them in the first place. Here are ways to avoid that experience.
The answer is to address the situations that make it difficult to do business with your company from the beginning, during onboarding. An efficient onboarding process means your partners spend less time struggling to connect with your company and more time selling your products. A well thought-out onboarding process is one of the pillars of improved channel sales.
Provide relevant and valuable information.
- Is there a process for managing channel conflict?
- How are leads managed and distributed?
- How is training and certification handled?
- What system is in place for market development funds (MDFs)?
- Are there incentives and rebates for meeting sales targets?
- How is reporting handled between the partners and the enterprise?
- What type of service levels and support systems are in place?
- How do the two organizations communicate?
- How do the partner and the enterprise align on strategic goals?
Educate your partners on your product.
- What problem does the product or service address for a potential customer?
- What is the buying process like?
- What sales tools are in place?
- Who are the buyers at the target companies?
- How does your product/service compare to the competition and how is your product/service positioned in the market?
Arm your partners.
An effective onboarding process that will lead to immediate sales success will arm your channel partners with the answers to all their questions before they start selling your products. It all boils down to is effective and relevant communication, an open avenue to collaboration, and access to training and certification resources. A modern cloud-based partner relationship management (PRM) system includes each of those within a single framework, distributed through contextualized partner portals.
Being prepared with a plan and proactive from the start with all the information necessary will prepare your new channel partners well, before confusion or other undesirable effects set in. By being careful not to belabor some points or neglect others, you can be sure that your new sales partners will be enthusiastic about your brand and ready to sell.
Feel free to access our Executive Brief: The Definitive Guide to Training and Certification in the Distribution Channel for a FREE guide on how to build and execute a successful training program while motivating your employees, and equipping them with the training and certifications necessary to effectively sell your product.