Now that’s we’ve talked about the pros and cons of a blended sales force and channel partner approach, as well as some common challenges, let’s focus on developing helpful tools for indirect sales managers. If you’re in this critical position, developing the following list can make you a master of dealing with channel prospects:
1. A conversational list
This list should contain titles you need to speak with, each respective title’s goals or challenges, and how your offering can help achieve those goals or resolve those challenges. Some examples of such goals include improving margin contribution; bringing in complementary offerings to more effectively address end users’ needs; optimizing a mix of offerings and services, increasing sales volume; and/or lower cost of implementation and maintenance support.
2. Reasons why you’re the best at what you do
Why should a channel partner work with your company instead of an existing manufacturer already in their portfolio? Know exactly why you are the number one candidate for the partnership; capture those thoughts in writing and be ready to share them in conversation. Examples of great reasons are: hot market or offering; complete marketing and lead generation program support; higher margin points; training; incentives; quality; and good upsell opportunities for the channel partner’s own service as a result of selling your products or services.
3. Selling tools
This list should include a compilation of success stories, goals and benefits statements that a partnership with you would achieve, as well as competitive responses to predictable objections will help you make a convincing case.
4. A support plan
A solid channel partner support plan includes elements like training, joint call plans, brand marketing, advertising and promotional campaigns, sales support and lead generation programs, order processing, inventory carry over issues, and restocking. Many channel partners have been burnt in the past; this is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from past partnerships and the current competition.
Once these lists and elements are in place, engage in a sincere conversation with your channel partner. Really learn about their situation, and determine what goals they would want to achieve if they chose to do business with you. Identify what challenges they face with their existing manufacturers and how you could lessen those challenges. Establish trust, display competence and understanding, and show how unique you are in your approach to selling through partners. Then, and only then, can you start selling your offering and clarifying how they (and their end users) can use it to achieve the goals you have created in their mind.
Are you a channel partner manager, or perhaps an indirect sales representative? Are there any helpful tools, tricks or stories about successful (or unsuccessful) indirect channel managing you can share? Next week, we’ll discuss what to do once you’ve secured an eager and qualified channel partner.