There are many ways to include new tools and software in the channel sales ecosystem. Many are designed to make your life a little easier, although they’re not intended to be a complete replacement for the human touch.
Processes can be automated, but there is no way to completely replace the tasks that still require human attention. No matter how real artificial intelligence feels, people will always be drawn in more to a personalized touch. Technology can be used to alleviate some of the strain and more redundant tasks in the sales ecosystem, but it is not capable of completely replacing human interaction in channel sales.
1. Focus on the customer first
At the end of the day, the best customers are the ones with a strong connection to your product and brand. There is no replacement for this human connection. Regardless of whether you are breaking into channel sales or have developed a robust network of channel partners, it’s important to monitor the sales ecosystem on a regular basis and optimize it based on customer needs.
When there is a breakdown in the sales ecosystem, it’s easy to find one possible point of failure and try to lay the blame on that alone. While the single-source, single-solution option can be successful in the short term, it’s often a losing battle, because there are constantly small fixes being put into place. By asking questions of how the ecosystem could better serve the customer, the problem can be avoided again in the first place.
Quite often, this requires a channel sales ecosystem that works in harmony. With multiple channel partners all working toward similar goals, each can focus on what the customer needs and deliver it. This might mean reaching out to other channel partners, not just the customer, when a certain desire can be fulfilled better by another partner.
Within the channel, everyone needs to be aware of strengths and weaknesses, for themselves and for the other channel partners. This will create a healthy sales ecosystem where partners can collaborate with each other to fill gaps and customer needs.
2. Fix the framework, not the behavior
In many situations, it is easy for a manager to find a quick fix to a problem rather than take the time to investigate it. While this might be okay in the short term, the problem can be something that stems from a larger situation than what first meets the eye. Keep in mind that it is almost always necessary to go back and determine if there was another underlying issue that caused the problem. If the sales ecosystem could have been tweaked to avoid the situation completely, that’s quite often the best option, as then it prevents these similar problems from occurring in the future.
More often than not, the solution was not the fault of a particular person, but the way your channel sales ecosystem is constructed itself. Determine the context that you’ve provided for the sales channel; is there something that you could have changed to help avoid the situation in the future? The personnel at times can be hamstrung by the tools they’re given. Sales technology can help accomplish tasks and objectives but can limit them just as much if you’re using the wrong tools.
3. Employ inbound strategies in the channel
Quite often, when you are searching for a broad solution to the problems you discover in the channel, it can be one of a few inbound strategies that comes into play. Continue to do research as the ecosystem develops and encourage your channel to gather as much feedback from prospects at each step in the sales cycle. If partners can determine what buyers’ pain points or business needs are, they can create and provide relevant content that resonates with where each contact is in his or her journey.
There is a huge benefit in maintaining an open line of communication between your channel sales and marketing teams. Collaboration is key. Even without direct feedback from prospects, sales can provide detailed and pointed information to marketing about what might need to be tweaked in creative content or campaigns or what content prospects are asking for.
These three steps can also showcase the importance of the human touch. Technology is omnipresent in sales today, but it’s not omniscient. In the end, it’s the people who can make the difference while utilizing technology to make their jobs easier. Having a channel sales ecosystem constructed around the best tools can help bolster your channel sales success.
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