With a lot of options out there, we thought we’d run down a list of must-haves for your ideal partner sales tool. While all of these are essential functions on their own, they can be even more powerful when combined into one tool.
1. Collaboration Suite
Whether it’s sharing a sales playbook, or that new premium piece of content with your channel partners, you need to be able to do so quickly, effectively and securely. Having partner sales tools that give you a chance to streamline bilateral channel communication can save you time and lots of headaches. Combine in-app messaging with content sharing, and you increase your collaborative potential tenfold.
Your partner sales tool should (at minimum):
Help you stay organized within the channel (Are you running your channel, or is your channel running you?)
Help you collaborate with your channel reps to foster learning and personal accountability
Help you keep tabs on leads and deals (whether it’s an overview from thirty thousand feet or a detailed investigative report, 60-Minutes style)
2. Functional User Experience
The most powerful tool in the world will go unused if the UX (user experience for the uninitiated) is clunky and unrefined. The old saying “you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink” comes into play here. (I hate cliches almost as much as I hate bad UX, but as they say, “You have to fight fire with fire.”)
It’s easier to encourage your channel partners to use a sales tool that is easy to use (and should we go so far as to say fun to work with), but it’s a little bit harder when the user interface is cumbersome and antiquated.
3. Content Interaction
It’s not enough to just produce content anymore. Now, you need interactive content that allows your partners to take a deeper and more personalized look into your product. Having a comprehensive overview of your brand and product offerings can be great, but at times it’s more information than can (or should) be absorbed in one sitting.
Creating interactive content is a great way to help your channel partner sales teams engage with buyers. You can define potential areas for improvement through a flowchart-style checklist , and give your channel partners an easy way to promote the brand. Another option would be a calculator that can detail the customer’s ROI when purchasing your product. (Yet another great option is a scorecard, which can also be used throughout the customer lifecycle to identify and generate success stories.)
4. Sales Training and Tracking
Keep close tabs on your channel partner sales teams with enhanced tracking capabilities. When working within the channel, you can promote ongoing training through quizzes or certifications. Review these results (with your partners) and determine which of your training tactics need to be refined to continue to improve the success and efficacy of the sales team (Here, you need to use your ear to hear what is needed from your partners). You don’t need to make knowledge a sacred artifact, instead, distribute it to everyone who needs it and wait for the buyers to beat a path to your door. You can also distribute your leads evenly throughout the channel and make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to promote the brand. Keep track of the performance for both individuals and groups, and then review who may need a refresher on any of the specific training items based upon sales metrics and feedback loops.
5. Channel Integration and Security
Your partner sales tool should allow you to share certain information within specific segments of your channel - from playbooks all the way down to training documents. You should also have the ability to keep other data private, such as specific CRM information. Pro Tip: By grouping your partners together with similar partners, you can start to notice patterns that can accelerate the whole group's performance. It also “shouldn’t take rocket science to figure out how to” efficiently distribute your tools to your channel (While we are on the subject of rocket science (and cliches), how did, “It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out _(insert any technology here)__”, become the go-to cliche when explaining a concept that should be easy to understand? Is rocket science really that arcane of a knowledge to comprehend to begin with? It is simply a tube with some explosive ingredients combined with basic Newtonian physics principles. Apples fall, rockets blow up, even rocket science isn’t rocket science!
6. Enhance Synergy, Not Siloing
Gone are the days of individual work and dividing and conquering. We’ll still delegate work, but work in tandem with each other. Use your partner sales tool to work in conjunction with your channel partners and drive continued engagement, education and sales - with an emphasis on engagement. All the training in the world is useless unless it is engaging and even more important - sticks. Remember, in most cases you are competing for mindshare. Mindshare, knowledge transfer and collaboration need to be included in your tenants of channel success. Tweet this.
7. Promote Reporting
Your partner sales tool should have the ability to access third-party information and data from your channel partners to create a powerful and comprehensive database from which to pull your reports. Specifically, you want to look for a partner sales tool that will generate data around consumption and usage. Look for your partner sales tool to help you examine each of your channel partners separately (We are all individuals, right?). What is right for one partner does not make it right for another, and you must learn to match your approach to the partner's’ journey and their individual persona. Compare partners over time and similar personas side by side, and only then can you make educated decisions with all of the necessary information right in front of you. Did we miss anything? If you have another suggestion for a must-have partner sales tool function, let us know in the comments below!