Three Challenges to Sales Enablement in the Channel
On the face of it, sales enablement should be exceedingly simple. Most salespeople are starved for the tools and marketing collateral needed to close more deals faster. But as it turns out, there are three challenges that routinely conspire to make sales enablement a maddeningly complex endeavor. Those issues are:
1. Organizational Structure
Inside far too many organizations there’s not much love lost between sales and marketing. All too frequently, marketing organizations focus their limited resources on branding. Salespeople, on the other hand, tend to view marketing as a sales support organization. While in the next breath complaining about a lack of air cover because no one has ever heard of the company they represent.
To make matters worse, internal sales teams and channel partners are not always on the best of terms. The tools and training many organizations provide their internal sales staff are vastly superior to what they tend to share with channel partners. The assumption is that the channel partner is not always completely loyal. While it’s true most channel partners represent multiple vendors, not sharing tools and collateral equally tends to do more to reinforce prejudices than it does to foster collaboration based on mutual self-interest.
Organizations don’t necessarily need to meld their sales and marketing organizations. But they do need to distinguish between branding and product marketing. And then provide channel partners with access to the same tools and collateral as the internal sales organization. Anything less than that level of cooperation is a recipe for conflict in the channel.
2. Too Much Focus on the Product
Channel partners typically try to sell IT solutions that are made up of three or more products and services. Therefore, sales enablement that focuses solely on products is of limited value to them. Sure, it’s handy to have when trying to convince an existing customer to upgrade. But when it comes to landing new accounts, most vendors don’t deliver much in the way of useful tools and marketing collateral.
Solution providers are usually desperate for any information relating to trends in a specific vertical industry, such as retail or banking. That kind of information provides the context a solution provider needs to frame a solution based on multiple products. However, IT vendors tend to be much more of a focus on transactions involving individual products. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons the attach rate for complementary products and services is not as high as most IT vendors would prefer.
3. Disparate Applications
When it comes to applications, there really can be too much of a good thing. Most channel organizations are trying to navigate everything from spreadsheets to customer relationship management (CRM) applications on the one hand, to advanced marketing automation platforms on the other. No place is there a centralized application that provides actionable intelligence for channel managers.
A third of the data they need usually resides in sales applications. While another third resides in finance applications, and the rest resides in applications controlled by the marketing department. It requires a superhuman effort to bring all that data together without the aid of a platform designed from the ground up for that specific purpose.
At Channel Mechanics, we’ve been making the case for a channel automation platform. Delivered as a SaaS application, it pulls all the relevant sales enablement programs and associated collateral together, in a way that enables channel managers to granularly target incentives at specific partners at any time during the sales quarter they see fit.
Alas, not nearly enough channel managers are even aware of the degree to which sales enablement programs can be automated. We invite you to take the Channel Mechanics platform for a test run here. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover just how much difference a platform, dedicated to the needs of channel managers, makes when it comes to taking sales enablement in the channel to a much higher level.