According to Forrester research, the adoption of channel sales, which involves selling through partners, now constitutes over 75% of global trade. This underscores vendors’ inclination to distribute their offerings through partners rather than depending solely on a direct sales team. In today’s economic landscape, this approach is widely regarded as highly effective for rapidly increasing revenue and achieving substantial growth. Thus, the purpose of this article is to present various strategies to enhance channel partner engagement. By leveraging channel sales, vendors can expedite revenue growth far more effectively than relying solely on internal efforts.
Embracing a channel sales model offers a multitude of significant advantages worth considering. Apart from making your product or solution available to a wider market, vendors also gain brand credibility in markets where they are relatively unknown. Additionally, vendors experience enhanced efficiency in their sales process. Furthermore, end customers benefit from dedicated training, onboarding, and implementation support through the partner, leading to a more satisfying and seamless experience. However, ensuring active engagement and prioritization of your product/solution by channel partners can be a challenging task. As a vendor, you may face several obstacles in achieving this goal. Here we outline six strategies to improve channel partner engagement.
6 Strategies to Improve Channel Partner Engagement
1. Partner Recruitment
Partner Recruitment is a sales process in itself. Asking pertinent questions such as “What attributes define your ideal Partner?” and “What unique strengths do they possess that complement your current capabilities?” is crucial. By prioritizing the quality of partners over sheer quantity, you can achieve successful sales outcomes and steer clear of less productive, long-tail partnerships. Remember, it’s about finding the right ‘who‘ rather than simply focusing on “how many“. Channel partnerships can be structured in three distinct ways:
- Sell to Partners – Partners may integrate your solutions into their own offerings, enhancing the value provided to their end-users. This involves creating joint solutions, such as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) agreements, where the vendor’s products become an integral part of the combined value proposition offered by the partnership.
- Sell with Partners – co-selling products or services alongside partners to customers. Here the vendor and their partners collaborate closely to jointly present and promote their offerings. This cooperative selling strategy allows both parties to combine their strengths, expertise, and resources to provide comprehensive solutions to customers.
- Sell through Partners – Utilizing partners as the means by which a vendor reaches the end-user. These partners can take various forms, such as distributors, value-added resellers (VARs), or large global system integrators (GSIs). They play a crucial role in facilitating the distribution and sale of the vendor’s products or services to the final consumers.
2. Partner Enablement Tools
Motivating channel partner salespeople, over whom you lack direct influence, can indeed be challenging. Therefore, ensuring their success and sustained motivation relies heavily on equipping them with the necessary tools and platforms for success. Provide them with clear and comprehensive assets, including testimonials, competitive comparisons, email templates, call scripts, and objection-handling cheat sheets, all designed to be prospect-ready. The key is to present the material in an easy-to-understand, jargon-free manner, as this will boost their confidence and desire to sell, fostering a more successful partnership. When partners are well-equipped, they are better positioned to effectively promote the vendor’s offerings, reach a broader audience, and generate more sales. Thereby contributing to the overall growth and success of the business in the market.
If partners fail to receive adequate training and ongoing support from a vendor, they will struggle to promote the products/solutions effectively. An effectively organized training program will empower the delivery of a consistent, efficient, responsive, and proactive experience with partners. Training should encompass sales, marketing, and technical journeys, ultimately leading to certification. By offering certification incentives, partners become more motivated to complete their training, prompting them to share their newly acquired qualifications across social media platforms. Moreover, incentivizing partners to finish training can be achieved by providing additional benefits within their Partner Program levels, further encouraging their active engagement and commitment.
Keep an open line of communication with your partners. Listen to their feedback, address concerns, and align your goals to create a sense of partnership. Consistent and proactive communication is crucial to ensure that your partners remain invested in the program. By regularly updating partners with the latest news and relevant information, vendors keep them engaged and informed. Utilize various communication channels such as newsletters, Slack, LinkedIn groups, and even organize interactive events like “lunch and learns” to maintain regular contact. By taking these measures to stay in touch, you foster a stronger relationship with your partners and create a more motivated and involved partner community.
Incentives play a pivotal role in motivating partners to prioritize a vendor’s offering. Thereby making it more appealing than those of competitors. By providing attractive incentives and rewards, vendors encourage partners to actively engage with their products or services. Ultimately resulting in increased sales and a stronger market presence. These incentives create a win-win situation, as partners benefit from the rewards while the vendor gains a competitive edge through their heightened focus and dedication.
6. Performance Tracking
By diligently tracking progress and providing regular feedback on pre-determined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), vendors establish a clear and transparent relationship with partners. This process ensures that everything stays on track, and any deviations can be addressed promptly. Partner Performance Dashboards allow vendors to measure partner performance by pulling together many different data points from multiple systems, in addition to presenting the data in a meaningful way to both the partner and the vendor. This feedback loop also presents the opportunity to upsell and capitalize on increased engagement. Through open communication and data-driven insights, both parties can make informed decisions, fostering a more successful and mutually beneficial partnership.
Through the implementation of these channel engagement strategies, vendors can enhance the likelihood of partners prioritizing their solutions, over competitors. As a result, they can achieve greater success through the channel sales model, leading to more substantial outcomes overall.