If your company relies on the channel as a key source of revenue and growth, what can you do when indirect sales productivity lags? The members of your network of dealers, resellers, and VARs don’t report directly to anyone in your company, so you can’t manage them the way you would your internal sales team. Channel partners choose to sell your company’s products, but they could just as soon choose to sell a competitor’s products. How can you direct your channel partners’ attention toward your products and the best practices for selling them? That is what’s required for improved indirect sales productivity.
What follows are four strategies for increasing channel sales. The goal here is to is gain a greater percentage of your channel partners’ mindshare—the time, energy, and thought they have available for activities related to selling your company’s products or services. You can achieve that by engaging with your partners, making it easier for them to interact with you and your company and to access the resources they need to understand your products and how to sell them.
1. Put Everything In One Place
It used to be, the method companies used to interact with their channel partners (and vice-versa) depended on the task at hand. Even online tools required multiple sites and different logins. That’s no longer the case. Modern partner relationship management (PRM) systems can be used to integrate everything required for effective channel management under one roof. That means your partners need only access a single customized portal (with a single login) to communicate with your company, take online training courses, receive marketing material, and so on. By simplifying your partners’ lives, you’re making it easier for them to sell your products more productively.
2. Make Data-Driven Decisions on Market Development Funds (MDFs)
As many companies are discovering, market development funds (MDFs), when deployed intelligently, are a great way to improve sales by supporting channel partners with their local marketing efforts—something channel partners demand. Understandably, most dealers will want access to the funds, but you shouldn’t hand them out indiscriminately. Decisions on where and how to use MDFs should be made based on data, not guesswork. PRM software can help here, too. With real-time data on indirect sales productivity, you can make informed decisions on where to spend market development funds.
3. Don’t Flood Your Partners’ Inboxes
Communication with channel partners these days is done largely by email. A significant—and frustrating—portion of your partners’ days involves sorting through their inboxes for material that’s relevant to them. Aggravating your company’s dealers will not lead to better sales productivity. Communication should be targeted to a partner’s specific role within your dealer network. They should receive nothing from you that they can’t act upon. Organize your communication and send it to the right place using a partner relationship management system.
4. Make a PRM Plan
The surest way to increase indirect sales productivity is the methodical way. What are your dealers saying about why they’re struggling to sell (or don’t want to sell) your products? What tools are your channel managers asking for to allow them to get more work done in less time? Instead of taking on your channel challenges piecemeal, consider integrating everything you know about engaging with your partners into a PRM strategy.