There are so many different interesting applications of growing a channel. What are you setting out to achieve for PharmaJet?
When we’re dealing with the international market, we’re looking really at ministries of health; government. When you’re selling to a government it can be a long sales process. You don’t really have a relationship, you’re looking at a very long investment in the issue of developing trust. And when you’re dealing with a channel, you’re essentially onboarding the trust and the relationship that that channel’s already developed with your customers.
So if you know who your customer’s going to be, and in this case I do, you can find the right channel. So you find somebody who’s selling them another product and has been delivering trust. They know that they’re delivering good product and they’re honest and so on and so forth. If I could get those type of channels that accelerate my sales process, it cuts down my cost of sale because I don’t have to be there 20 times. I can manage the ongoing sales process through my channel. So that’s the focus of what I’m doing.
Now, domestically, it’s similar but almost opposite. In the United States the people who are making decisions about vaccines are much, much more localized and much smaller, and so it goes back to the cost of sale. Can I actually get out to every clinic or every place where they’re going to be delivering vaccines and make a presentation, develop the relationship, build rapport and trust? Well, if I’m dealing with distributors, our channel partners that have those relationships, they’re getting out there, then that is gonna make my sales process a lot easier.
There was a blog post you wrote on LinkedIn called “Hobbies and Selling.” In it you talk about the benefits of seeking help from sources other than your own, listening to someone else’s innovation, then using their expertise to change a tactic or fill a need. How do you see this translate in the channel?
I try and read probably between 6 and 10 very specific business books every year. I’ll go to a couple of seminars or workshops every year. I then take that stuff and prepare it into training for my channel sales organization. So I’ll say, “Okay, I’m gonna take two ideas from this 300-page book, and then I’m going to set up a webinar and train my regional managers, and then all of the salespeople.” And now this brings another value to the owner or manager, because if I teach them a good trick that isn’t related to my product, they’re going to be able to use that selling other products too.
So I’m giving them an advantage. I’m increasing my importance and my mind share with the partners, but I’m also giving them a tool that might help them sell a little bit more. It drives people. I’ve had sales people say, “You know what? I sort of felt that I had everything I really needed, and then you taught me this and I thought, ‘Maybe I should be reading my own 10 books a year.'” And it helps convince people to get back onto the self-educating path. Sales people really should be constantly learning, in my opinion, to develop their skills.
Can you talk about how your partner program is set up? How are you organizing this to really maximize collaborative partnership?
We are essentially selling tools to help deliver vaccines, and vaccines are purchased in a very unusual way. And again going back to what I said before, I really like to try and think from the beginning that your sales organization should be a mirror of how people are buying your particular type of product. So internationally, the people who are buying vaccines and things that have to do with vaccines are a very limited number of people.
In addition people make decisions about vaccination in a very focused way, time-frame wise. It’s almost like selling Christmas trees. If you offer a Christmas tree for $3 in May, nobody’s going to buy it, right? No matter how fantastic the tree is and how great the deal is. People have a very specific timeline. They’ll make their decision for the 2018 flu season in let’s say April of 2017. So what I really need is my channel to be talking to the customer during a 60-day period about my product. On one hand that’s good, because if you say to your channel, “Every time you go into the customer, remind them about our product,” that’s asking a lot of the channel. But if you say to your channel partner, “Look, once a year during this six-week period, we want you to present our product,” that’s a very different ask from your channel. .
To learn more about partner channel goals, growing a channel, timing for collaboration, educating your partner sales reps and more tune in to episode 35 of The Allbound Podcast.
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Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes. Also available through Google Play. The Allbound Podcast explores the evolving fundamentals of partner-based selling in the SaaS and subscription economy. Featuring some of the industry’s brightest minds in channel sales and marketing, episodes of The Allbound Podcast delve into how and why indirect sales and marketing has long been, and continues to be, a proven medium for accelerating growth and success. And how traditional “channel” models are being transformed into efficient, connected ecosystems to supercharge sales and drive customer success while keeping costs low. Subscribe on iTunes