Building a Successful Sales Channel

Define ‘Successful’

S.O.S. has found that many channel managers and executives answer “Yes” to at least one or two of these questions.

  • Alignment & Performance

    Are your Channel Partners aligned and performing to your business needs today?

  • Listening

    Are you hearing from your Channel Partners that they’re not able to lead with your company?

  • Performance Gap

    Is there a gap between where your organization is today and where you’d like it to be (i.e. number of accounts, profitability, deeper account penetration)

  • Mutual Success

    Do your Channel Partners feel both you and they are mutually invested in each other’s success?

  • Maximizing Prospects

    Do your Channel Partners maximize your prospects’ business opportunities through solutions or do they sell a product?

  • Partner Growth

    Do your Channel Programs support the growth of your Partner community?

Too Much Too Late?

You’ve heard the phrase “Too Little, Too Late?” Well, many companies have over-recruited their channel, expanding to the thousands of partners. In addition, these Partners aren’t leading with the firm’s solutions and contribute only periodically, sometimes closing just 2-3 deals per year!. We call this “Too Much and Too Late”.

teamwork channel sales
  • Are you encountering these challenges?
  • Is what you are doing today working for you?

Then how do you foster a highly-productive sales channel? There have been many books written just on this topic, but here’s what we’ve found as best practices.

Best Practices to a Highly Productive Sales Channel

  • Develop Channel Partner categories based on their solutions base (product lines and diversity, services, locations, etc.).
  • Rank the Partners in each category by relevant metrics (revenue contribution, margins, emerging market sales, etc.).
  • Determine the alignment between the top and emerging Partners’ goals and your firm’s goals (you can’t push a rope).
  • Determine the business drivers of your top and emerging Partners. Most are margin driven, which means they’ll have invested in service infrastructure and service expertise, since services not only round-out the solution offering but typically provide higher margins.
  • Develop Channel Programs that align closely with these business drivers (otherwise, they’ll go with whichever firm does!). This step may include creating Technical Certification levels.
  • Create a deal registration program to avoid channel conflict.
  • Measure! Be sure to tie back any investments made to the specific channel programs and the specific channel partners who participated.
  • Communicate! Be sure to interact with your top and emerging Partners regularly. Don’t assume that your emails are being read. Lack of communication is a typical Partner complaint.

What happens to the non-productive (as defined by your firm’s channel management team) channel partners? It comes down to two basic choices. Option one is to keep them but do not invest in supporting them (including providing free technical phone support). Option two is terminate their reselling agreement and part ways as it’s obvious the two companies are not a good match for each other.

By nurturing your most productive channel partners, you build an elite channel community who is loyal to your brand.

Your company can then become the obvious choice.