A majority of the goods and services sold every year are through indirect sales channels. The advantages of doing this are innumerable, but the main upshot is that you get to stay focused on what you do best: manufacturing, while these channels stick to their specialty: sales and marketing. However, if you don’t pay attention to your channel partners and give them the tools they need to be successful, you’ll lose mindshare and your sales will suffer.
What Is Mindshare?
To put it simply, mindshare is the amount of attention you get from your partner network. When a sales opportunity presents itself, are they thinking of your company first? Keep in mind that your products aren’t the only ones they’re marketing and selling. Frequently this includes the products of your direct competitors. As a Sales or Marketing professional, you only have so much say in the quality, price, and delivery of the products your company brings to market, but you can separate yourself from the competition by winning the mindshare battle with your partners.
Tip #1: Interact with your partners regularly.
There is no excuse to not keep in constant contact with your partners. One very good way to do this is by using Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software. This keeps the lines of communication open at all times, ensuring that your partners have access to the updated information they need at their convenience.
Make sure you are keeping them in the loop about current products, training seminars, changes in prices, upcoming promotions, etc. If you want to leave your channel partner unhappy, just ensure they’re the last to know about major changes to your product line or company.
Tip #2: Help with the heavy lifting.
Another mistake you could be making is looking at your channel partners like they’re an automated resource. They’re not. Effective partner relationships require doing some of the heavy lifting on your own. To that end, you should be providing them with tools and strategies to help better market your products.
Show them where your market exists and how they can tap into that market. Provide them with analytics for visibility in the sales cycle to increase sales. Provide specific ways to help them grow their business. After all, they have a bottom line too.
This is another area where software can optimize your partner relationship management efforts. The right software will make all this information easy to access and utilize, ultimately saving your partners a lot of work in selling your products.
Tip #3: Invest in marketing materials.
Along the same lines, your partners are going to be relying on you for quality marketing materials. If you give them outdated resources, you can guess what kind of results to expect from them. Expect that your competitors provide up-to-date co-branded materials.
Perhaps more important than the marketing material itself, think of ways to help you partners put these resources to use. An example of this strategy is a marketing playbook that lines out the specific actions and materials your partners need and helps them understand the expected business outcomes they can expect from those efforts.
Tip #4: Improve customer satisfaction.
You should also look for every opportunity to improve customer satisfaction. While this may not make for increased profits in the short term, over the years to come, you can expect that more customers return to your channel partners for their product needs.
This type of retention does not go unnoticed and your channel partners will pay attention to the brand that keeps customers coming back. This relates back to Tip #1 which calls for you to interact with your channel partners regularly. In many instances they are the ones closest to the end customer and are the source of the feedback which is critical for improved satisfaction.
You will find that gaining mindshare is an ongoing challenge. Put yourself in your partner's shoes and keep the above four tips in mind so that you stand the best chance of getting as much as possible.