What You Need To Know About Partner Management

Posted by Kellie Auman on Oct 17, 2017 11:15:00 AM

Having channel partners can be a huge advantage for your business. However, they can also be the source of unnecessary stress and even costs. Sometimes, this is the channel partner’s fault. They simply aren’t holding up their side of the bargain, even though you may be using your own funds in an attempt to help them. A lot of times, though, the responsibility may lie with you. After all, channel partners can only perform as well as you let them.  Here are a few things to remember when engaging with partners, and ensuring success.

Topics: Build Your Channel, PRM v. CRM, Channel Partner Onboarding, channel partner management

The Simple Secret to Developing a Modern Sales Channel Strategy

Posted by John Panaccione on Oct 5, 2017 10:30:00 AM

I always look forward to reading HubSpot’s annual State of Inbound report. It’s full of interesting sales and marketing information and statistics, including top priorities and challenges from more than 6,000 respondents. More on this to come. First, let’s examine why these statistics are important.

Meeting the needs of today’s B2B buyers.

A common-sense approach to designing an effective sales strategy involves meeting two time-tested variables:  relevancy and timeliness.   Merriam-Webster defines relevant as “having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand”, and timely as “coming early or at the right time”. For those selling through sales channel partners, there is complexity in making this happen.

Topics: Build Your Channel, channel sales, channel strategies, channel marketing, sales channel

Best Practices For Scaling An Indirect Sales Channel

Posted by Kellie Auman on Sep 28, 2017 11:45:00 AM

In direct sales, a company takes their services and/or products right to a client or customer. There is no middleman or third party playing a role.  With indirect sales, however, independent parties are brought in to help with marketing and distribution. That may sound less than ideal—after all, they’ll clearly cut into your profits—but a majority of the goods and services sold globally are through an indirect sales channel.

Most indirect sales models begin with a few sales partners, but eventually need to expand. This expansion doesn't happen overnight.  You don't wake up one day, decide you want to grow your indirect channel and have everything hammered out by the afternoon. You need to think strategically about what is already working and what gaps in the process need to be filled.

Topics: Scale Your Channel, Build Your Channel, Partner Collaboration, indirect sales

Five Critical Factors To Consider When Choosing KPIs

Posted by Kellie Auman on Sep 26, 2017 9:45:00 AM

Channel managers often have questions about setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for their sales channel ecosystem.  It's clear that an indirect-sales ecosystem requires different KPIs than a single-channel direct-sales organization and quite often many KPIs will remain the same.  For example, sales targets are still sales targets.  However, channel sales KPIs should also relate to the ecosystem itself, and be more future-focused as well.  Your KPIs should provide an overview of how your overall partner ecosystem is doing and also provide a sort of road map towards future channel growth. Here, we discuss five critical factors to think about when choosing KPIs.

Topics: Build Your Channel, Increase Channel Sales, kpi, Measuring what matters

An Efficient Onboarding Process Can Improve Channel Partner Sales

Posted by Kellie Auman on Sep 12, 2017 11:10:00 AM

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. As the relationship progresses and 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 mindshare with your partners. 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 the bigger issue is understanding how you lost them in the first place.  Here are ways to avoid that experience.

Topics: Build Your Channel, Channel Partner Training, Channel Partner Onboarding, mindshare

The Importance of Training and Certification In The Sales Channel

Posted by Kellie Auman on Sep 7, 2017 12:05:00 PM

We don’t need to tell you that training and certification are vital to a healthy channel ecosystem – truth is, many sales channel managers misunderstand just how important these elements are.  Training and certification aren’t simply a matter of “making sure the sales reps say the right things.”  Your training and certification program is also key to maintaining a high level of mindshare among your partners and their staff, as well as encouraging them to continue towards higher success. Great training courses are really just the first step.  A well-implemented sales channel training and certification program can do far more.

Topics: Build Your Channel, Channel Partner Training, Channel Partner Onboarding, channel certification training, certification in channel

Content Marketing Strategy:  Four Metrics To Track

Posted by Kellie Auman on Sep 5, 2017 1:20:00 PM

It’s one thing to have a content marketing strategy and a large amount of content and materials online, but it’s another thing to know whether or not it’s actually working out for you.  One of the biggest and most common mistakes companies make when getting into content is misunderstanding how success in content marketing is measured.

In many cases, this will be personalized – each company has different goals.  However, there are four metrics which we believe should always be tracked and understood for both your own efforts, as well as those of your partners.  Don’t forget to include them in this process!  Ultimately, any content produced within your ecosystem is still part of your content strategies – particularly if they’re being shared among your partners.

Topics: Build Your Channel, Understanding PRM, content marketing, content creation

Four Ways Partner Relationship Management Builds Stronger Partner Relationships

Posted by Kellie Auman on Aug 22, 2017 3:05:00 PM

Forging relationships is vital for the success of any business, but is at the heart of the indirect-sales model.  As a vendor, you fail or thrive based on the sales partners you cultivate and their enthusiasm for promoting your product.  Are you doing everything you can to create the best partnerships, maintain them, and continually make them stronger?

As your list of partners grows, this can become an increasing challenge – but that’s where Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software comes in.  In a lot of ways, it can act as your own personal relationship adviser, helping you keep tabs on all your partners and evaluating their needs.  Here are four ways that PRM can build better partner relationships.

Topics: Build Your Channel, partner relationship management, Channel Sales Productivity, channel partner relationship

Three Ways To Keep Your Channel Partners Happy

Posted by Kellie Auman on Aug 1, 2017 11:20:00 AM

When managing an indirect sales ecosystem, it’s vital to remember that you are  competing with other vendors for sales partners.  This is true both in terms of recruiting partners in the first place, as well as maintaining mindshare when a partner may be working with multiple vendors.  

The more attractive you can make your channel, the easier it will be to both recruit partners and keep them enthusiastic about the partnership. We’ve worked with plenty of vendors and partners, so we’ve seen a lot of commonalities between various vendor\partner relationships.  Here are three ways to ensure the happiness of your sales channel partners in an extended ecosystem.

Topics: Build Your Channel, Sales Productivity, channel partner engagement, Increase Channel Sales

Three Key Functions Customer Relationship Management Systems Lack

Posted by Kellie Auman on Jul 18, 2017 8:45:00 AM

Many companies use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to coordinate and manage their interactions with customers. CRM software provides an excellent system for automating the sales process as well as storing and analyzing sales data. Although CRM systems are generally recognized as the best tool for managing direct sales, they do not provide an adequate solution for managing indirect sales partners (also known as channel partners).

Vendors who use indirect sales partners face a unique set of challenges because their relationships are far more complex. Channel partners are independent; they are not employees who are part of a direct sales force. In addition, they may be located in different parts of the country (or the world), making communication more difficult. And in many cases, they sell your competitors’ products. A loosely-managed indirect sales force can wind up competing with your direct sales staff – or other channel partners.

Topics: Build Your Channel, lead management, channel management, Channel Sales Productivity, dealer training, channel certification training

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