We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Managing channel partners is way different from managing your direct sales team. Instead of dealing with reps on a day-by-day basis, your interactions with channel partners are inherently different.
What isn’t that much different, however, are your expectations from your channel. Like your direct sales team, you should expect your informal channel partners to close business and attract new customers.
Having a tough time managing both direct and indirect sales teams? Here are five tips to help you manage effectively:
1. Be clear about your goals.
Establishing goals and monitoring progress for internal teams is easy. Daily interactions not only facilitate effective communication, they also make tracking progress and growth easy.
When working with channel partners, it’s important to establish a sales and pipeline growth model—and enforce it with each individual partner. Develop a realistic expectation of sales and revenue by channel. And align your partners around these objectives.
Ultimately, it’s important to be upfront and clear with your channel about expected sales and revenue yields.
2. Accurately determine the size of your channel.
To be able to set attainable expectations, it’s crucial to have a realistic understanding of your channel ecosystem. How many prospective customers is your channel selling to? How big are these potential customers? And finally, what is the revenue potential?
Knowing the capabilities of your channel enables accurate tracking and measuring of success.
3. Align your marketing process.
Content is king. But if you’re unable to deliver customized, useful content to your channel, your efforts are for naught. Software can help connect your entire channel sales ecosystem and enables reps to access updated and useful content.
Draw in your channel partners with content that’s rankable, shareable, and—above all—usable. Reps can save articles, download content, and preview collateral before they send it. By personalizing content to fit your brand, you’ll not only empower partners to sell, but you’ll represent your brand accurately.
4. Don’t undervalue onboarding and training.
As the greater sales landscape becomes increasingly remote, it’s not uncommon for reps to be located out of state—or even out of the country. Outshine your competition by providing your channel partners with a memorable and accessible onboarding process.
Partner sales acceleration tools improve efficacy with continual engagement and organization. Training courses ensure that your channel is up to speed on your company, product and services through courses you create. Additionally, certifications reward and recognize reps for their hard work. Quizzes test your reps’ knowledge—and provide you with insight on coaching techniques. And tracking mechanisms help you gauge progress and success.
5. Communicate effectively.
Good communication fosters and builds trust. And establishing a relationship with channel partners is an overlooked important step in guaranteeing repeated, long-term success.
This business relationship is no different from any type of relationship. When partner communication is limited to the occasional email correspondence, channel partners will inevitably feel out of the loop and under appreciated. Consider using technology to boost your efforts. From instant messaging to video chat, these tools improve communication which ultimately leads to a true partner selling relationship.