If your company relies on non-exclusive channel partners, that makes for a difficult balancing act. Obviously, you want them selling as much of your product or service as possible, BUT they have businesses to run and it's only natural that they're going to be making the choices that benefit them best. Those choices might or might not involve promoting your company's products and brand.
Guide your partners to success
If you're wondering about how your channel partners are differentiating your products, perhaps the first question to ask is "Do they have the knowledge necessary to differentiate it?"
Most of the time, the effectiveness of channel partners will rely heavily on how much helpful information they have at their disposal. We've seen many cases where companies send literature to their channel partners that looks nearly identical to customer-facing materials. They are full of buzzwords and promises and contain very little information about how partners can add value and improve the customer experience. This doesn't leave their sales reps much to work with, especially if those reps don't entirely understand what the product does in the first place. They're likely to stick to products they're more comfortable with (or just those with the highest margins).
A basic tactic to inspire partners to push your product harder is simply to ensure they have useful information and plenty of training to accompany it. Local reps who fully understand a product, and know they have resources to turn to for tricky questions, are going to be far more likely to talk to customers about it.
Communication is key
The days that channel partners were left largely to their own devices are long gone. Today, the most successful partnerships are usually ones where there is a steady flow of information back-and-forth, with the top-level company maintaining close contact with their partners. A company should be consistently looking to reach out to their partners, keeping them informed of new developments in the product, the market, advertising initiatives, and other changes which might affect their sales.
It's also useful to ensure that the ground-level sales reps have direct lines of communication open for talking to you, asking questions, and getting advice. If they're having to go through multiple levels of managers just to ask questions, that's also going to discourage them from pushing your product too heavily. On the other hand, easy communications often lead to easy sales, and reps are going to be inclined to push partners who make their lives easier.
Build incentives and inspire
Being stingy with channel partners is a good way to become a low priority for them. Profit margins and bonuses are always going to be a major factor, and it's often worth giving up a little raw profit for the sake of inspiring dedicated channel partners. This can easily go beyond mere percentages. Offer prizes to the top earners, or small bonuses for successfully completing training courses about the products. You can rarely go wrong incentivizing activities which will inspire reps to talk about your product more.
Additionally, being good to your partners will inspire loyalty in the long run. The words "We've worked with these guys for years" are gold for many buyers, suggesting long-term stability and commitment to the product. Some of the best sales evangelism can come from reps talking about your company, not necessarily your product itself.
An all inclusive solution
If you're looking at these ideas and thinking they'd be great if only you had the infrastructure to pull them off, that's where we come in. Here, at LogicBay, we can create an all-in-one centralized system that makes partnerships easier for you and your partners. Here's what we can do:
- Share all the technical information needed, in a central repository.
- Make marketing materials available freely for all who need them.
- Create training modules, tracked on a per-partner or even per-employee basis.
- Deliver sales programs that make it easier for your partners to sell.
- Have open communication back-and-forth, so partners always feel "in the loop."
- Share strategies, trends, and other data that drives sales.
Our Partner Relationship Management solution can make you the preferred choice among your partners. Contact us today for more information!