When I'm in the middle of a conversation with someone in my profession, I can always tell within the first 2-3 questions or comments the level of knowledge or experience the person has around the value of a world-class channel organization. Comments like expanded markets, improved company profitability, etc..., versus giving margin away, direct sales conflict, are the key differences.
Channel organizations can be a critical component to expanding and increasing market coverage and penetration for complex B2B sales organizations. However, when it comes to enabling the channel with tools and processes, it’s an often overlooked area of opportunity.
A key success metric that I learned from a seasoned channel professional is:
Productivity x Capacity = Growth
If you have 1,000 partner sale reps who are not productive, you will not grow. But, if you improve your channel sales productivity by 10-15 percent that could be significant. That is why you invest in a methodology that allows you to reach a global audience, improve their productivity and grow their mindshare which ultimately, will earn them more money.
Three Steps to Drive Measurable Results in Your Channel Organization:
1. Consistent Messaging
If you are a sales executive overseeing a team of global channel partners, you need the ability to measure and inspect how their teams are articulating the value and differentiation of your product. Can your channel partners answer these questions consistently?
What problems do you solve for your customers?
How do you specifically solve these problems?
How do you do it differently than competition?
What’s your proof?
Your indirect sales organization should be audible-ready to answer these questions about your offerings. If they don’t, how can they effectively communicate with your prospective customers, and more importantly hit their numbers quarter after quarter? Don’t leave your sales message in the hands of sellers who don’t know how to speak to the true value of what you do.
Implement a sales methodology that ensures your channel organization is able to:
Effectively execute discovery in a way that uncovers the largest business problem of the prospects.
Demonstrate the value of your solutions in a way that ties to the Positive Business Outcomes the buyer is looking to achieve.
Successfully differentiate from competitive offerings
An effective sales messaging framework can drive the consistency needed around these critical sales skills. Customizing it and building it with the right inputs allow your channel reps to easily map value and differentiation to buyer needs and requirements, as well as align your entire channel organization behind what drives value for your customers.
2. Tools to Reinforce, Manage, and Inspect
Ongoing training and inspection are critical to driving the consistency and predictability necessary for measurable results. Leaders at your channel organization need the tools to reinforce, manage and inspect the methodology.
Providing your front-line sales managers with a repeatable operating rhythm will support consistency throughout your sales organization and provide you with the information necessary to see what’s working and more importantly what isn’t.
3. Sales Consumable Tools
Your channel organization will be more successful if the tools are sales consumable. This means they can easily use the tools to execute in front of current and prospective accounts. What good is the content you’re providing to your channel organization if the reps aren’t able to easily use them on a daily basis? By taking the time to create tools and processes that are easily digestible and actionable, you can ensure their use and their success.In any organization, channel partners are often seen as outsiders or people that “we give margin to,” so they can be easily neglected or misunderstood. Some may also have competitive allegiances that may make some companies leery of providing too much training and enablement. However, if they’re driving a large portion of your company’s revenue, you are doing them and your organization a disservice by not providing with effective tools and processes to sell your solutions effectively.
Providing these critical components to your channel organization will create the results necessary for bottom-line impact, including:
Increased Revenue Per Sales Rep
Increased Average Deal Size
Reduced Sales Cycle
Reduced Ramp-Up Time
Enable them to be effective in selling your solutions. Help set them up for success. Give them the processes and tools necessary to drive measurable results.
Paul DeMore is the Vice President of PTC's Worldwide Channel Program, which comprises 330 partners globally. He has more than 20 years' experience leading sales teams both domestically and internationally.