People have been selling things for as long as they have been making them. With that much accumulated history and knowledge in the profession, it’s easy to see how some sales practices have become so ingrained that they’re taken for granted as foundational to a partner sales process.
More complex selling environments, more specialized products and different models of deploying and supporting products have led to quiet but significant shifts in what spells sales success. What was once guaranteed to work isn’t such a sure thing, and it’s possible that right this moment you are implementing tactics in your partner sales process that are supposed to work and don’t.
Instead of taking for granted that the way you currently have things set up is the best for business, take a look at these three partner sales tactics you might now be implementing, and how they could work better, to get yourself on the path to a process that really delivers.
Incentivizing Numbers vs. Smart Incentivization
Incentivization seems like a pretty clear-cut tactic to implement. People sell to make money, and when they sell more they should get a bonus. Right? That’s supposed to be how it works. But these days, more isn’t always better. So if you have your partner sales process set up with a simple incentivization model, you might want to rethink it.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to implement a radically different method of rewarding sales. Nor does it mean that your channel partners should be expected to sell purely based on their enthusiasm for the product (though they should, of course, be enthusiastic about it). What it means is that smart, and possibly more personalized, incentivization for partners beats the old standard paradigm of getting a bonus for hitting a number.
In a day where subscription-based services, support and other add-ons are often the lifeblood of the sales relationship rather than just cutting a deal and calling it good, the quality and long-term endurance of the partner relationships are what should be incentivized.
Dominating the Competition vs. Building Relationships with the Competition
Looking at those as selling in the same general space as cutthroat competition might make sense when you’ve got two companies selling widgets and a potential customer that only plans to buy one. But especially in the tech market, strategically partnering with other people in the space to provide a more comprehensive portfolio of services can help fill in gaps to fit client needs, and make for more effective partnerships. So if you’re looking at everyone selling in the same space as the competition, you might want to think less about dominance and more about synergy.
Old School Warm Prospects vs. Analytics-Assured Sure Things
Too much of sales remains rooted in the cold-calling methods of bygone days. But even those in the channel with more contemporary operations are often still stuck in the last century when it comes to defining and pursuing prospects. If you’re blanketing the business world with e-blasts in hopes of getting a bite, take a look at how many of those emails you yourself receive every day – and delete. That should give you an idea of why it’s important to update your methods.
Analytics solutions that gather and parse data about prospects can go a long way in streamlining the sales process. Salespeople avoid over-contacting, spinning their wheels on relationships not worth cultivating, and throwing potentially good relationships in the 11th hour by making avoidable mistakes.
Good predictive analytics can measure not just if prospects should be contacted, but how. Furthermore, such solutions can log data about the nature and duration of online interactions, how potential clients respond to content and so on, and make recommendations accordingly. So while those old prospecting tactics are supposed to set up partners for success, it’s a must for top partners to cut down on the signal-to-noise ratio by using the right analytics tools.
I’ve spent enough time dealing with channel models to know there are a lot of channel pros who will dismiss these tactics. There will be individuals who will tell you the sales and marketing techniques propelling business forward today ‘won’t work in the channel’. But I am here to tell you they can work, and are working for many companies that understand a change is necessary.
Fortunately I get to work with customers every day who’ve put past approaches to indirect sales aside. I’m engaged with individuals regularly who are open to how the latest technology can get applied to the channel. The innovation and opportunity is there, will you lean into it, or get left behind?