Many business owners and salespeople in the B2G space deal with external sales channels to help move their products or services. At times, we are asked how to initiate or improve a sales channel program. Here are some things to look for when selecting a channel partner (or considering your next move with an existing one):
First, channel partners should have a clearly defined space into which they sell that is well-aligned with your business. One company with which we worked tied themselves to a reseller simply because it was a large, recognizable name. Unfortunately, the reseller had no real presence or clear positioning within the market space of the business. This was not a formula for success as buyers were not accustomed to thinking about (or purchasing from) the reseller.
Sufficient Skill and Coverage
Along these lines, make sure the channel partner has sufficient geographic and market segment coverage to warrant a relationship. Another international client of ours wondered why their success within the U.S. had been so limited. Upon deeper investigation, it was clear the channel partner (with whom there was an exclusive arrangement) simply did not have the sales acumen or resources to adequately represent the client. Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions regarding territory coverage and/or request to see resumes of key reseller salespeople to help determine their true competence level.
Consider Breadth & Fit of Reseller Catalog
There are resellers in the government space who make their business essentially representing a large catalog of a wide variety of products. Sometimes, this can be quite helpful, particularly if the reseller has a standing contract in place with a particular agency. However, we have also seen situations where company’s products didn’t move because they were lost in a vast sea of other products and services.
Consider how your product fits into the overall catalog. Is it well aligned? Is the average price high or low relative to other products in the catalog? Even if the catalog is broad, does it fill a needed niche within the overall portfolio?
In a follow-up post, we’ll look at additional considerations for channel relationships, so stay tuned. Until then–happy hunting.