Today, companies aim to drive more revenue while using fewer resources. To do so, companies must creatively seek out new ways to reach customers and engage in market opportunities. By partnering with various distributors and resellers, your sales, market reach, and opportunities are likely to grow through cost-efficient tactics.
To remain competitive, companies must invest in their channel partners to drive revenue. However, far too often, vendors focus on the wrong criteria in setting their channel partner strategy. In this article, we will share the three keys to a successful channel partner strategy:
The Right Channel Partner
There are three main factors that play a role in identifying a valuable channel partner:
Identify your prospective partner’s specific target market. Discover their current selling strategies and networking activity. Is their existing customer base demanding a solution similar to your offering? Does their existing customer base suit your business in terms of size, location, and application?
Process and practice
Thoroughly research your potential partner to ensure there is no conflict of interest. For example, is your potential partner in a partnership with any of your key competitors? Will the partnership potentially reduce your selling territory?
Long-term partnership vision
Ensure that the channel partner is committed to you and your long-term vision. Are they willing to dedicate staff to your business? Your partner should be ready to focus on a long-term partnership and be dedicated to developing a plan to reach both of your goals.
The Right Incentive Program
Many B2B businesses try to leverage channel partnerships to ignite their sales’ success. But the channel partnership route can be challenging because frequently partners are also selling many other products. In order to win mindshare and encourage them to push your products and services, you will have to incentivize and support your partner.
According to a Maritz Channel Market Study which surveyed more than 1,000 sales professionals from a variety of industries, the opportunity to earn rewards and incentives has a remarkable influence on a channel partner’s sales efforts. Some highlights from the study illustrating this point include:
More than two-thirds of respondents said incentives are extremely important to their job satisfaction.
More than 75 percent of managers, owners and sales representatives said manufacturer-sponsored incentive programs have a major influence on their willingness and interest to sell that manufacturer’s products and services.
More than 80 percent agree that the opportunity to make money from manufacturers strengthens their ongoing relationship with the sponsoring company.
Further, according to a study by Channelinsights, incentives not only motivate channel partners to continue selling your product but they also organically grow you and your partner’s bottom-line. In fact, 60 percent of the respondents said that an effective incentive program can increase sales of a particular vendor’s products by up to 40% while representing as much as 18% of their total company sales.
The Right Support
According to a Channelinsights study, a request for additional sales and marketing content was first and foremost, followed by the need for sales and technical training. Channel partners also expressed interest in having the vendor share best practices in sales, marketing, and market research. In short, channel partners agreed with these words, “Give us all the information you can, to promote your product.” A sales enablement solution will serve as the perfect solution to enable your company to give channel partners all the selling materials they need.
Content and Training
On average, it takes 7-9 months to successfully train a sales representative. While the average sales rep is responsible for selling one particular product or product line, partners are usually asked to sell multiple products/services from multiple companies. Because of the multiple product lines/manufacturers a partner will need to sell, it’s highly probable that the onboarding process for these partners will be much longer.
Channel partners look for content that will equip them with the information they need to successfully represent their several product offerings to buyers at all stages in the buying process. With a sales enablement solution, your company’s marketing team can better support the partner’s sales interactions. Also, by giving partners access to collateral at all times, you will help increase the “mindshare” of your product/service over your competition. Your partners and resellers are selling many other products and by continuously helping them educate themselves on your offerings, they will gain confidence and will continue talking about and selling your solutions.
Implementing a sales enablement solution will provide partners with the information necessary to properly educate themselves on your offerings. They will also be equipped with a modernized tool they can utilize to engage customers and walk them through various offerings and solutions. With a sales enablement solution, your product line will be most appealing, as customers will appreciate the modernized approach to delivering them clear information and encouraging communication.
Sharing Best Practices
In addition, a sales enablement solution will provide you with valuable analytics. With proper tracking and analytics, companies can collect content usage data that directly correlates to business objectives and partner performance. The ideal sales enablement solution will track content consumption as well as support a variety of feedback mechanisms. In total, the analytics will allow your company to have a deeper understanding of the factors that influence partner channel’s success. By gaining insight into effective content pieces and successful best practices, channel enablers can communicate back to their channel partners as to what pieces of content are successful in closing more deals.
To grow and gain more traction as a company, partnerships are necessary to ensure growth and ability to remain competitive. With this being said, the implementation of a channel partner strategy must be strategically executed for positive results.
Now that you've read the theory, it's time to look at some of the practical things. Check out our on-demand webinar with Eloy Water, and learn how they grew significantly by successfully enabling their partners.