Channel sales performance management is not for the faint of heart. There are many things to consider, including how you will manage each of your channel partners and their respective teams. Your sales channel partners are integral to your channel system. So it is in your best interest to set them up for success. Doing so will lead to higher satisfaction among your partners’ sales teams, which will in turn boost their performance. Happy sales channel partners equate to higher revenue and ROI. See how that works?
Your indirect sales team is furiously working to push your products, and if you want to keep them pushing through the pipeline, you need to look at the data right in front of you. In this blog post, we will uncover best practices and methods you can employ to light a fire under your sales channel partners and get them to excel. These techniques are intended to help you manage the performance of your sales channel partners by fostering a productive, conducive environment for your sales channel partners to thrive.
Craft the Culture
It is no coincidence that a company listed on the Best Companies to Work For yields high returns. Sales channel partners that find comfort, encouragement, and support will perform head and shoulders above the rest. It does not matter that sales channel partners are a third-party entity and not your direct employees. The keyword here is “partner.” Your sales channel management should provide a conducive and collaborative environment that fosters productivity. This means a culture of transparency with a forum to communicate as well as safely give and receive feedback.
Provide the Tools
Cloud-based tools are probably the most important element of channel sales performance management If you ask me. Automation tools. SPIF tools. CRM tools. Sales forecasting tools. Partner portal tools. Whichever tools your sales channel partners need to succeed. It is time to go as digital as your budget can take you. And trust me when I say sales channel partners will welcome anything to make their job easier, especially sales enablement tools. Do not – I repeat – DO NOT have your sales channel partners spending valuable man-hours on processes that can be automated, like reporting via Excel spreadsheets. There are all kinds of tools you can implement to bring efficiency to your sales channels with automation.
Give the Incentives
If you want to entice your sales channel partners to keep performing above and beyond your expectations, you need to keep the incentives coming. Rewards – especially cash-based incentives – are a great motivator to boost the performance of your sales channel partners. SPIF sales programs are designed to be short-term. You need to develop an ongoing strategy to keep your sales channel partners on their toes if you want them to be impactful over the long term. You must be extremely diligent when creating your rewards program to account for all the moving parts. Otherwise, your incentive program will be nothing but noise to your channel partners.
Manage the Performance
Channel sales performance is directly tied to satisfaction (See “Craft the Culture” above). If you see blips on the low-performance radar, there is an issue with your sales channel partners that you must immediately address. But how would you even know there was an issue with your channel partners’ performance if you have no checks and balances in place? See why sales channel performance management is so important? You must establish a process to review the performance of your sales channel partners. And this needs to be done on a regular, ongoing basis. So when those blips pop up, you can amend your processes and strategies accordingly.
A rule of thumb: Quarterly performance reviews with targeted key performance indicators can help you distinguish high performers from the rest.
Now that you have read a bit about how to sales channel performance management, ask yourself, “How well am I managing my sales channels?” And be honest. Improvement starts with you.