In our previous post, we examined three key lessons for initiating or improving reseller channel partner relationships. Let’s examine a few more pieces of advice for improving results from channels.
Understand & Leverage Channel Incentives
Reseller salespeople are like any other salespeople–they follow the money. They want to cover ground as quickly as possible, selling products and services that are easy and personally profitable. If your product or service does not align well with the salesperson’s compensation plan, don’t expect great results in the end. Understand how these front line representatives are paid, and strive to fit within the overall compensation model. Some resellers will even allow “spiffs” or other special programs for salespeople if properly coordinated. Look for creative ways to incentivize reseller salespeople’s focus on your product.
Look for and Participate in Consistent Training
Salespeople sell most effectively when they are comfortable with the product and its market advantages. Comfort in a complex reselling environment doesn’t happen by accident. It takes solid training and consistent review to make sure 3rd-party reps are sufficiently educated to adequately represent the product. Look for or create opportunities for training reseller sales teams. Arm them with updated information on how your product stands out in the marketplace. Focus on benefits, not technical details or functions. This type of training will yield a greater likelihood for success.
Establish Regular Account Management Procedures
The final recommendation is to work with the reseller’s sales management to establish regular and consistent opportunity reviews and evaluation procedures. These discussions should be farily specific in nature, digging into account-level details where possible. This kind of depth will give you insights into what salespeople are facing as they talk with prospects, and it provides a level of accountability not found in arms-length reseller relationships. Not every reseller is willing to do this, but find one that is, and you’ve got the basis for a strong and lucrative strategic partner.
Channel management is a discipline not for the faint of heart. Rarely is a channel approach a “money factory” requiring little hands-on work. However, when implemented and managed well, it can certainly be a lucrative way of taking product to market.