Like many companies, yours probably relies on channel partners to get your products and services to market. That doesn’t mean you automatically get the results you want, though. Instead, many of these relationships leave a lot to be desired. Rather than looking at your partners as the problem, consider looking to them for the solution. What’s the main request they have? It’s worth asking and chances are their answer will fall into one of the below categories.
Better Marketing Resources
Tasking your channel partners with the job of coming up with their own marketing resources is rarely a good idea. For one thing, this leads to a lot of inconsistency between the branding and messaging between your vast number of channel partners. At best, this leads to a lack of sales in the short term. At worst, this could mean a poor reflection on your company that is hard to overcome in the long term.
Always make sure that your latest and greatest marketing resources are made available to your channel partners. This will make their goal of selling your products that much easier to achieve.
Another area you could be falling short is training your channel partners in how to best sell or service your products. This could be a result of outdated training material, insufficient tracking of course completion, or a general inability to get the right training to the right audience.
No matter what it entails, your channel partners will appreciate learning about how they can better perform. Merely training a handful of their employees and putting them in charge of passing on complicated product knowledge simply won’t do.
Instead, you want to supply them with a solid foundation using practical application and the ongoing resources that they can access over time to keep themselves sufficiently informed and up to date.
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You’ve heard the old saying, “two heads are better than one.” This motto is the cornerstone of collaboration. Simply having a network of channel partners doesn’t necessarily mean you are collaborating. Actively working with them to understand their business creates a better opportunity to share in mutual success. All channel partners are unique and bring their own strengths to the table so it is important to leverage those as much as possible.
Most channel partners would welcome the opportunity to work closely with your company on certain opportunities. Not only will this ensure they are following your lead, but that they can also learn valuable information in the process.
Always look for opportunities to actively collaborate with your channel partners. You too, may find you learn something by doing so. If nothing else, you strengthen the bond between your business and your channel partner.
A Cohesive Strategy
Along the same lines, channel partners want to know that they are operating in a manner that is in line with your expectations. They can’t possibly hope to do this, though, without a firm understanding of your channel strategy. If you don’t supply your channel partners with specific directions, don’t expect them to meet the goals you have for them.
Ideally this process will take place at the beginning of any new partner relationship and is solidified through the plans and documents that form your channel strategy. By accomplishing this up front, you help ensure consistency in your partner application process and also establish a level of expectation that both parties can work with.
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At the end of the day, what most channel partners love to see from any manufacturer they work with is a steady stream of qualified leads. Your company probably has it’s own processes for sharing leads with your channel partners but do you have insight into what your partners do with those leads? Lead management poses a series of challenges in terms of getting leads to the right partners in a timely manner. When done properly, your pipeline will become more clear and your partners will work harder on your behalf to win this business.
When it comes to your channel partners, the above should help you get an idea for how you can help them perform better. That being said, nothing works quite as well as simply taking the time to ask how you can help them reach their potential.