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. But, as the relationship progresses, if 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 channel partner mindshare. 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 how can you avoid losing channel partner mindshare in the first place?
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.
What Partners Need to Know about Your Company’s Business Processes
- Is there a formal onboarding process?
- 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?
What Partners Need to Know about Your Products They'll Be Selling:
- 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 those questions before they start selling your products. Successful sales organizations put such a process in place before rolling out a new sales channel. What 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.