Improving indirect sales performance is a key business growth strategy for companies that market their products or services through a network of dealers, resellers, or VARs. If your company is in this boat, you already know that the only way to get your dealers selling your products more often and better is to increase the amount of “mindshare” they can dedicate to your brand.
Because it’s likely your dealer partners are selling other brands in addition to yours, your path to better indirect sales performance is to secure for your company as much of your indirect sales partners’ time, energy, and thought as possible. Channel partner mindshare expands when partners feel fully engaged by a manufacturer; they understand its products and way of doing business, feel supported in their selling efforts, and feel empowered to communicate with the manufacturer and collaborate on improved sales processes.
Collaboration: Give Your Indirect Sales Partners the Power
Your channel partners are just that: your partners. An effective indirect sales channel partnership is a two-way street. Each partner should be enabled to contribute their thoughts, expertise, and experience for generating new ideas and better processes and solving problems. Sometimes in the indirect sales channel, that also means enabling your partners to collaborate with each other as well as with your company – in situations where that type of collaboration is appropriate and beneficial. If one channel partner develops a particularly effective sales tool, for example, it ought to be able to share that tool with the other partners in the system, so long as those partners aren’t competitors.
Similarly, if a re-seller is routinely experiencing negative customer feedback on a certain product feature, that partner should have the ability to pass that feedback on to the manufacturer and feel that the manufacturer will take it seriously in the next redesign. Collaboration enables both sides of the partnership – the manufacturer and the channel partners – to tap into a global knowledge network by drawing on and sharing information and expertise to create improvements and in turn generate more sales. Collaboration is proving to be as important as any channel management process today for better indirect sales performance because the dissemination of best practices throughout the channel can create an organic process of constant improvement.
Best Practice: Integrate Collaboration into a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) System
Giving your channel partners the power to collaborate with your company and their fellow dealers (when they’re not competitors) is one of the best ways to increase partner mindshare and generate more sales through the channel, thus growing your business as well as your partners’. For that reason, collaboration should be a cornerstone of any new or existing partner relationship management (PRM) system.
SEE ALSO: What is PRM Software?
A modern PRM system is an integrated solution. It unifies all the channel management best practices, including collaboration, within a single framework. The best modern PRM systems are web-based, cloud-based, and scalable. They offer sales channel partners a single portal – customized according to their role in the channel network – through which all interactions with a manufacturer can take place. Within a PRM system, indirect sales channel partners will have the ideal venue to provide your company with feedback from the sales front lines, offer suggestions on product and process improvements, and ask questions – all critical elements for collaborative and supportive channel partner relationships.