Channel Management Best Practices: Five Things to Remember

By Seth Jacobsen Posted on 4/2/15 7:30 AM

Channel Management Best Practices: Five Things to RememberManaging an indirect sales channel is no small feat. Every channel is complex and requires it’s own set of support systems. The question we hear quite often is, “Where do I start?” If you’re curious to see what you can do to get more from your partners with channel management software, the following five areas are a good place to start.

1. Team up for Sales

Having partners means that you and another business need to work together toward a common goal, generally growing your business.

Partner Relationship Management software and strategies can make it a lot easier to team up with your partners for sales calls, appointments, shows, etc. This is made possible by having better insight into your sales and pipeline and a greater understanding of where your partner’s best opportunities are in each phase of the sales cycle.

By giving your partners the tools to easily share this information, you can provide the targeted support necessary to help them close more business. It also allows for continuous improvement by showing you what’s working and what areas still need to be addressed.

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2. Set Goals

If you haven’t set goals for your partners, you can hardly expect them to meet your expectations. Channel management software is great for this. If you’re not already taking advantage of this type of technology, make that a priority. In addition, let your partners know what they can expect from you in terms of training, marketing support, and sales material.

Most channel management software platforms should have various levels of analytics available that will show you what your partners are truly capable of. This makes it easy to set realistic goals and keep track of those in real-time.

For best results, get your partners to join you in this goal setting. Provide them with the same analytics your channel management software gave you and then identify a reasonable goal together. By doing so, they’ll be more accountable to delivering successful results.

3. Constantly Evolve

There’s no perfect Partner Relationship Management strategy. Even with the best channel management software available, you’ll never arrive at a permanent solution.

SEE MORE: 5 Tips for Improving Channel Partner Relationships in 2015

Instead, invest in an approach that is scalable and will evolve with your ongoing needs. Market forces are dynamic, so it only makes sense that your PRM strategy is as well.

Most PRM providers follow a Software as a Service (SaaS) model that requires them to update their functionality over time to meet market demands. Look for vendors that will take your feedback for product innovations as part of their strategy for future versions of their software.

Finally, it also means that you’ll have a reason to regularly return to your PRM strategy to evaluate it, revise it and improve it where necessary.

4. Never Lose Sight of Mindshare

No matter how well your business is doing, you can’t forget that there are competitors out there who would love a chance to work with your partners. Some of them may already be doing so. Keeping the attention of your partners is known as mindshare and is something you have to be aware of  at all times.

The moment you lose mindshare, a competitor could pick up a huge advantage over you, one that no amount of channel management software will help you get back (at least not at quite the price).

Make mindshare a priority of your Partner Relationship Management strategy so that your partners think of you first  when an opportunity presents itself. Never let them forget why your products and/or services are so easy to sell.

5. Help Your Channel Partners Grow

Lastly, never forget that your channel partners have to grow in order for you to be successful. One of your company’s goals should always be trying to help your partners become more profitable. One way to make this happen is to ask them about their goals for the next 3-5 years. Maybe they are expanding into new markets and you have a product that will help them get there. There are countless ways to align your business goals with theirs which allows for a much greater return on your partnership investment.

Partner Relationship Management is challenging, but taking the time to consider the areas listed above can help you get the most of your indirect sales strategy.

 Download CMO 2015 Guide to Managing Sales Channels Partners

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