Channel Sales Success

By Cindy Waxer

Tom Morrill, chief executive officer of the sales consulting organization, Actegy, has identified the top five reasons why channel sales programs fail. Here’s how companies can prevent their multi-channel sales models from breaking down.

Establish a value proposition.
If a company’s value proposition isn’t clearly defined, Morrill says, “It’s going to be in trouble because its channel sales partners won’t be able to articulate what it offers to the customer.” Companies must apprise their channel sales reps of which customers they’re targeting, what problems their customers have, how a particular product and service can solve those problems and what return on investment customers can expect to reap.

Define the customer acquisition process.
There are a series of steps customers follow when purchasing a product or service. Channel sales representatives must understand this purchasing process and offer prospects the necessary support each step of the way. Morrill warns, “It has to be clearly understood for all players what steps your customer goes through to buy.”

Set clear objectives.
When building a relationship with a partner, companies first must establish the objectives of the alliance. According to Morrill, if partners aren’t aware of their responsibilities and obligations, it’s extremely hard to hold anyone accountable. Morrill recommends drafting a list of agreed upon objectives before enlisting a new partner.

Set up adequate partner selection procedures.
A company should avoid making the mistake of signing every partner that crosses its path. Instead, Morrill advises establishing clear criteria to determine which partners are worth recruiting. Morrill says, “I would rather have 10 productive partners than 50 signed partners.”

Provide channel support.
It’s not enough to simply recruit a partner. Companies also must offer their channel sales representatives the necessary support at each stage of the partner program. Morrill advises, “Once you sign up a partner, you have to decide what you’re going to do to make that partner take steps to becoming self reliant.” Companies must be prepared to provide partners with training, tech support, marketing programs and technological solutions such as partner relationship management tools.

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