This first item is not to say that you and your channel partners should not expect some mutual benefits. Rather, the introduction for both of you in meetings to discuss your partner sales process should have already covered the basics. Your sales symbiosis may not be readily apparent, but anyone who you’re willing to join forces with should be able to recognize the advantages. Especially if you bring them up as a discussion point before it becomes a question.
The negative item here is the modifier of the statement, ‘should’. The last thing you want is for your partner sales channel to dry up due to lack of resource investment in the channel. If you cannot commit time or money to the sales channel, be forthright about your situation and when you anticipate it will improve. Likewise, your channel partner will also keep you up to date about any hindrances in the channel.
Optimally, there should be no roadblocks in the partner sales process. A successful partner sales channel requires input from all invested parties. It takes effort to build contacts, and without some investment from your counterparts on the other side of the proverbial table, it becomes very difficult to develop and grow both of your customer bases.
The investment does not stop at sharing contacts. You need to be fully competent when it comes to each other’s sales process and product offerings. As well, if anything does change with regards to your sales methods or marketing messages, be sure to keep everyone else updated.
This might sound like a good strategy for the partner sales process. Really, it can be quite counterproductive. This strategy is a dated one, as it relies on going after leads as convenient to the sales team. Now, it is up to your sales and marketing team to make sure that the leads are given the information to make an educated decision on which solutions provider they will choose.
This means that the prospect needs to have all the requisites for their choice at the proper time. Sales and marketing must not feel pushy, only influential, and the information must be available across devices and platforms. This requires forethought to make sure that the decision makers receive every resource for their choices as the information becomes relevant. Any sooner and the information might be dismissed, any later and the decision could already have been made.
This can arise from a couple different situations. Either you did not properly educate your channel on the sales process, your channel partners are not putting forth the proper effort that is required (and that you specified would be required), or your customer bases are not compatible. Additionally, you might be encountering a combination of more than one, which can complicate matters even more.
Let’s look at the first issue: your partner was not properly educated on the requisite sales methods. This is squarely on your shoulders. Evaluate how they are pitching to their customer base, and how it needs to change, then enact those changes. This also is a good time to ask for suggestions on how to improve the partner sales process as a whole.
Second, your channel partner may not realize the effort involved, or may not be willing to put forth that effort. This also requires a step back to evaluate whether it’s a lack of resources or lack of willingness that is the hindrance. Make sure that the information is clearly presented, and that you have a positive acceptance of everything before proceeding further.
The partner sales process requires some planning on everyone’s part. When you address the possible stumbling blocks ahead of time, then everyone succeeds.
Do you have any success stories? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.