What channel sales actually are?
In channel sales, firms sell their product through intermediaries. These intermediaries can be called by many names in different contexts like partners, dealers, distributors, brokers, resellers, agents, affiliates, etc. This business strategy is also called indirect selling.
Implement a Channel Sales Strategy
1. Create clear policies and guidelines
Always create clear policies and guidelines so that there is no confusion between your company and your partners.
2. Find the right match
Spending time in qualifying, and understanding partners. The wrong partners will always consume lots of valuable time and resources.So always focus on quality over quantity.
3. Invest in enablement and training
Develop comprehensive training schedules and programs so that partners know your goods in a good manner. Always be ready to answer the questions of your third-party partner.
A) Design your Company’s Channel Partner Program
When structuring your firm’s channel sales partnerships, first and foremost determine what type of partner(s) your company needs, based on your goals. Here are some common objectives.
1. Partners for delivery and implementation
Is your company expecting to accelerate growth? Your company might be facing a shortage of manpower to deliver at a faster pace, but partners could not have shortages of manpower.
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2. Partners are for solutions, support, and maintenance
Partnering with another company will actually deliver that third consumer or client requirement allowing your company to meet this need more quickly than delivering that capability yourself. This may also extend to the maintenance and support of your goods or service.
3. Partners for sales reach
Maybe your company doesn’t have enough salesmen in a particular market or a region. Perhaps your company wants to break into a new industry. Then you would want to find third-party partners who have an existing reach in the market or industry your company is targeting.
(B) Consider these Questions Before Connecting with Partners
Get clarity on these important areas before contacting or inviting potential partners to contact your company.
1. What are your company’s expectations of them?
Understand what type of commitment your company is seeking from partners. Consider both the partner performance and partner engagement indicators, like leads generated or converted, completion of training or certification, and total revenue brought in.
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2. What your company can offer potential partners?
Your company’s partners will want to know what type of support and service you intend to provide, such as access to sales, a dedicated account manager, incentives, comprehensive training marketing tools, technical resources, and rewards.
(C) Recruit channel sales partners
Once your company is outlined your goals for partnering and structured your program accordingly, your company can develop a list of prospective third-party partners by industry, technical capabilities, geography, and other factors. Make sure that your company must pick the right partner based on capabilities. Two approaches to recruiting partners are.
1. Outbound recruitment
Identifying partners and contacting them proactively rather than waiting for them to contact your company is another option.
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2. Inbound recruitment
It happens when potential partners come to your company. For example, you may set up a form on your company’s website where potential partners can express interest in selling your goods and services.
(D) Hire a channel sales team
Your third-party channel sales program must need dedicated staff and departments to support it and your company’s partners. Here are some of the important roles and responsibilities your company wants to cover, along with important soft skills required for each.
Vital roles and responsibilities for channel sales teams are
1. Channel operations or portal manager
This profile is sometimes described as partner program management. One major responsibility includes managing and designing the partner portal, where third-party partners log in to access workflows and resources.
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2. Channel sales leader
This department is responsible for meeting partner revenue goals and overseeing a healthy sales funnel. Channel Sales Leaders direct and oversee their firms’ channel sales strategy, initiatives, and policies.
3. Partner account manager (PAM) or Channel account manager (CAM)
CAMs are always on the front lines and maintain healthy relationships with partners, from onboarding to supporting sales resources and support. Channel Account Managers are responsible for working with third-party partners to build pipelines, so the ability to coach and motivate is very important.
(E) Support your channel partners
Your company has brought new partners up to speed and they are off to the races. Now what? Third-party Partners need ongoing support and assistance throughout their involvement with your company. Below are a few ways to show your company’s assistance and set partners up for success.
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1. Provide quick access to resources
Partners will need access to marketing assets, product specs, pitch decks, or more. Making all these resources available on demand empowers and helps partners to be more fruitful and lessen the back-and-forth with internal channel managers.
2. Offer omnichannel assistant and peer groups
Are sure partners must have email, chat, or phone support for when queries arise. You can also give offers like a B2B social media community for partners, where they will find applicable success stories, can ask questions from each other, and share best practices.
3. Provide prepackaged campaigns
Some partners do not have dedicated marketing salesmen or departments or any resources, so offering them can prebuilt campaigns, brandable content, or trade shows in a box makes it easier for them to market your offering.
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(F) Measure your company’s channel sales programs
Your company can use metrics to identify your most important strategic partners which can help in boosting the revenue margin of the company, so you now know where to invest your funds. Your partners may use analytics to discuss where they need more assistance or training or to benchmark where your partner stands against other partners.
Always consider sharing and tracking these partner success metrics:
- Partner pipeline for the quarter
- Partner leadership scoreboards
- Total marketing funds used for ROI
- Partner pipeline for the year
- Total revenue driven
An effective channel sales program support partners, vendors, and customers. By thoroughly thinking about each step and stage of the process — from recruiting to measuring channel sales, companies can reap long-term support and benefits from indirect selling.