How to Define a Success Profile for Your Channel Partners
The expression I like to use about partners is that they’re not like your children, they’re like your neighbor’s children. You don’t have the authority to discipline them or to hire or fire their sales reps. Instead you have to coach and develop them as best as you can to help them drive results that will move the needle. This reality is a challenge – why should your channel partners listen to you?
When you’re building out a channel program for your company, a formula that was shared with me sets the stage for conversation; growth equals productivity x capacity. You can achieve growth in this equation by adding new partners or working with your existing, top-tier partners to help them add more capacity and be more productive. When your channel partners are seeking to add capacity (sellers) to their organization, you can’t ignore the importance of talent when enabling them – specifically having a process around how you select, attract and retain top channel partner salespeople. You have an opportunity to prove to them that you can be a guiding voice on how to optimize their sales talent by explaining your knowledge of the marketplace, defining the attribute of a successful seller and providing examples of tools that can help them identify the right people for their organization.
In regards to equipping those top-tier partners, the ones worth this investment – who bring in major revenue, with the tools they need to execute an effective sales talent process. Helping them find and retain the right talent can be a differentiator for your channel program. If you’re working with a partner, you’re aligned to their organizational goals, and they see you as a value-add to their business, they will do more to sell your products.
One of the most successful things I did when I was a channel leader was define what a success profile looked like for our partner sales representative. It’s not just a job description, rather think of it as a detailed profile of your perfect seller’s DNA. When you define what success looks like in those sales positions, you’ll be able to help your partners’ effectively source, evaluate and develop the role moving forward. There are two key components of a success profile:
- Competencies: The attributes of success in a particular sales role.
- Success behaviors: Those attributes in action.
As part of the Success Profile, our team defined the fundamental attributes of a successful partner seller in this space. These traits included sales execution skills such as effectively building pipelines through prospecting, efficiently aligning and utilizing internal and external resources, and closing deals that provide good outcomes for the customer and for the company.
From there, we provided partners with training and interview guides. These educated them on how to effectively interview and ask the right questions to match up to these profiles.
As a result, the partners were able to drive consistency and a process behind:
- Selecting and acquiring talent
- Onboarding and assimilating
- Managing and rewarding performance
- Developing and retaining talent
- Workforce planning and talent review
- Leading and promoting
This consistency and process behind each of the practices above has the capability to provide both you, an OEM, and the channel partner with greater benefits, specifically growth of your channel program. Remember, growth equals productivity x capacity. You can be a factor in this equation when you work with your top-tier partners to add more capacity and be more productive. When you provide them with the easiest way to sell your products the more success you will have.
Practical Tactics to Optimize Sales Talent
Here are other practical ways you can help your top tier partners optimize their sales talent through incentives:
- Cover the first six month’s salary of your partner’s new sales hire.
- Offer onboarding classes at their facility for them.
- Offer marketing funds to do trade shows, promotions, or events in their territory with them.
- Provide BDR support: business development reps to actually call in and help build pipeline for the new hires to get them going.
- Offer to help the partner with the interview process.
These incentives assume both parties already work well together, and that you and your partner trust each other. Of course, there is usually some type of contract that comes with these incentives. For example, there could be a commitment to revenue performance within a set period or time, specific territory coverage gap could be filled or even specific products could be sold. It is an agreement between you and the Partner.
Once the right sales talent is in place, you’ll still need to give partners the right tools. This means a messaging framework that gives them the ability to articulate the value of your solutions and its differentiation in a way that has meaning to the buyer (features the buyer doesn’t want can’t do much for you).
You have to take ownership of your partners’ success. Just like you need to enable them with critical sales skills, with value drivers and differentiators to sell your product, you also owe it to them to help define what success looks like at the individual level from a talent perspective. When you’re trying to drive growth and improve productivity and capacity, you can’t just enable channel partners with great brochures or an email campaign. You can’t ignore the role that attracting and attaining top sales talent has in that channel equation.