10 most Influential Components in Building an Indirect Sales Network that’s Produced to Last
Selling your product through indirect channels mandates synergy. Without a solid channel partner management strategy, mutual understanding between channel partners and in-house personnel, opportunities deflate and objectives lose focus.
An effective partner enablement strategy channel partner management strategy possesses no singular template; establishing a monetarily beneficial rapport requires broad insight into the strengths and weaknesses of a channel partner.
Joining arms with another business is an investment that takes time and patience. The payoff, however, can be the deciding factor in taking a company to the next level.
Following is an overview of the 10 components of a channel partner management strategy:
1.) Partner with Businesses that Optimize your Value Proposition
Perhaps you lack the deal closing savviness to close big-time opportunities. Maybe you have the sales elements in place, but don’t have the technical capacity to integrate your software with other platforms.
Whatever your reasoning is behind partnering with another business, it’s imperative to identify areas in which you need actual support. Blindly partnering with companies on little to no basis ensures problems.
2.) Seek Out Third-Party Perspectives
Acquiring passion is today’s world is tricky.
Make sure your channel partner possesses the same hunger and appetite to succeed as you do. Building authentic relationships with partners is the best strategy for deciphering this quality, but it’s not always feasible.
That’s where your due diligence as a researcher and networking savviness come into play.
Approach businesses that you admire from afar or whose reputation is well-established. Contact consultants, former employees, competitors, past clients, etc., to get a transparent overview of a specific company.
3.) Enable Partners in the Portal
PRM software has revolutionized the way businesses and their partners interact.
From expediting the onboarding process to providing valuable resources (e.g., best practices, sales manuals, branding materials, web-based training and certification courses, etc.), and implementing incentive programs (e.g., market development funds, SPIFFs, and rebates, special pricing discounts, deal registration, etc.), Partner Portals serve an invaluable purpose in today’s ultra-competitive corporate environment.
Partners management systems do more than just help make partners become more productive; one centralized location enables channel partners to remain in sync with business goals, while efficient in their execution.
4.) Stop Offering Generalized, One-Size-Fits-all Campaigns
Partners are already knee-deep in vendor-approved strategies that just don’t quite fit their needs. Vendors need to rethink and re-establish what they want over their partner communities. A tailored approach to partner strategies will be more successful for both the vendors and partner.
5.) Design Simple and Objective Incentive Programs
Channel incentive programs and special pricing agreements help drive revenue while improving the performance of products and channel partners.
However, the administrative ‘status quo’ of these programs are typically designed with ambiguous parameters that steer partners away from participating.
This shouldn’t happen.
Channel sales and marketing programs should be designed with simple and objective guidelines. This not only encourages more partners to join but also helps your in-house team accurately validate claims.
6.) Make the Step into the Modern, Digital Strategies
Channel partners often struggle with a lack of manpower and antiquated strategies. As a result, a majority of their Co-op and Market Development Funds go directly into trade shows, direct advertising (such as print and radio), and other analog marketing strategies. Therefore, vendors should STRONGLY consider using their channel marketing budget in a more progressive manner by providing the funds to more digital technologies and strategies.
7.) Simplify Price Lists so Partners Know what to Quote
If your channel partners are unfamiliar with your product—or if you regularly adjust your pricing—don’t expect partners to automatically assume what to quote.
You want to make sure partners feel confident during the deal-closing process, and being able to configure error-free quotes is a high priority. Providing price lists that are easy to digest, and/or automated tools that calculate pricing will inject assurance into partners’ lead-to-deal process.
8.) Offer more Support to your Channel Partners
Sales enablement is the biggest challenge faced by both partners and vendors today. This would require vendors to see profitability through their partners’ eyes. Vendors will need to meet partners in their preferred medium. Are you partners active on social media? If yes, vendors will have to dedicate more time to fill their social profiles with training and partner resources. If you don’t already do this, you probably should.
9.) Go All in on Social Media
One of the most powerful partner management strategies is communication via social media. Getting in touch with you isn’t always easy, or vice versa, so platforms such as LinkedIn offer you the chance to get in immediate contact with channel partners.
10.) Pay Attention to Partner Feedback
Partner retention is, in our opinion, the most overlooked key metric in the channel. Unhappy partners translate into an increase in partner sign-offs. Whether it be feedback on your products, partner portal, or even email response times, vendors should make partner satisfaction their number one priority.