Channel partners generally sell more than one product or service. They might even – gasp! – sell one of your competitor’s solutions. That’s fine, even expected, but that means if you want them to increase sales of your offerings you’ll be competing for the channel’s attention and loyalty.
So how do you make your solutions stand out from the rest? How do you capture the attention of your channel partners to promote, quote and sell your products over the others they have in their portfolio? Good question.
Ultimately, it comes down to two simple truths. Channel partners are more likely to sell the solutions of vendors that:
- Make it easy for them to sell – Channel partners will always take the path of least resistance or least effort. This means products that are easy to sell (and easy to quote), from vendors with whom they are familiar with.
- They like better – A personal connection goes a long way with regard to channel loyalty. Partners will gravitate towards vendors who keep them updated and provide them with any assistance they may need. The closer the relationship, the more likely they are to focus on your products and services.
But, really, the bottom line is… well… all about the “bottom line”. Channel partners will promote the solutions that give them the highest probability of winning deals and greatest profit. Taking it down a level, the channel sale rep will sell the solutions that will ensure they make their targets and commissions!
With that in mind, here are eight ways to motivate your channel partners to ensure they view your solutions as the means for making you—and themselves—more successful:
#1. Make it quick and easy for your channel partners to create professional-looking sales proposals.
If you’re throwing pricing spreadsheets and PDF sales brochures to your partners, you’re not making it easy to sell your products – just the opposite. Even if you are familiar with accessing information quickly and efficiently from these files, this won’t be true for your channel partners. Remember, they’re most likely managing similar materials for multiple solutions from multiple vendors.
You need to think about how you can reduce your channel partner’s workload and they’ll go with you. If you can, provide them with access to your automated sales quoting tools or CPQ solution, if you have one, as this can significantly simplify the process and time need to create professional looking proposals.
#2. Make it easy for channel partners to calculate their margins.
What’s in it for your partners? They want to work with you to be easy, but they also want to maximize their profitability at each opportunity. Help them with both and you’ll make them want to work with you. Make it easy for them to calculate margins and incorporate winning discounts and you’ll be saving them a lot of headaches and added work.
Partner profitability is based on the margins you provide them. Whether you’re proving a price list, spreadsheet, or access to your CPQ quoting solution, make sure your channel partners can easily calculate their profit margin.
#3. Help channel partners make the deal bigger and better.
Again… it’s profit, profit, profit. You need to ensure your partner is aware of the upsell and cross-sell opportunities they have available when quoting your solutions.
A CPQ solution will greatly help in this area as it can offer up upsell and cross-sell options automatically. Not only does this make it easier to quote, but it eliminates the need to bombard your partners with update emails (which they probably won’t read) and ongoing training (a big-time channel pet peeve).
#4. Make it possible for channel partners to easily create multiple quotes.
Channel sales reps, like your own reps, want to look at multiple configuration options and pricing scenarios to determine which ones are best to offer their customers. Customers may also request different options to consider.
You need to make it effortless for channel partners to create and develop more than one quotation, with the ability to mix and match different options. This means creating quotes needs to be quick and easy, as we talked about above.
#5. Make it easy for channel partners to configure error-free solutions.
If your solutions are complex or difficult to configure and price, don’t expect your channel partners to be excited when it comes time to create a proposal. Unless they’re quoting you on a regular basis and very familiar your products, they’ll lack the confidence to create quotes, error-free quotes, and you’ll need to provide extra guidance or risk that they’ll choose another product to promote.
Make sure your price lists are easy to read and easy to follow. If this is a difficult proposition, be sure to provide automated tools that simplifying quote building and eliminate errors.
#6. Provide channel partners with updates on campaigns and promotions in a timely manner.
If you’ve taken the time to develop a promotion, make sure your channel partners are aware of it. Don’t keep them in the dark for a sales opportunity that could (should) benefit both of you. And, definitely, don’t allow them to get upset with you by feeling that they lost out on the chance to increase their probability of winning a nice deal.
Make promotions—and promotional reporting—easy to digest. Don’t bore your channel partners or burden them with more information than they’ll need to know. Keep them updated, but don’t overdo it. Automated sales quoting tools can also be used to here to update your partner reps in real-time when they’re preparing their proposals.
#7. Minimize or, better yet, remove the need for continuous training.
When you update your solutions or add new products, your channel partners see new potential revenue streams. They want this opportunity, they just can’t afford to spend hours learning (or more accurately, re-learning) every single detail.
Although you give them the technical specifics of the new offering (i.e. features), you can save a great deal of their time by automating the quoting and pricing processes. In other words, you should make it easy for products and services to be quoted through the use of automated tools. If you have a CPQ solution with guided selling, make it available to your channel partners.
#8. Help new sales hires get ramped up quickly and easily with your products.
If your channel partners experience a lot of churn in their sales teams, their new hires will be more apt to quote the solutions that are quickest and easiest for them to learn and understand. Channel partners can’t afford long sales rep on-boarding processes, especially if the portfolio of solutions they offer includes many different vendors’ products.
Automated sales quoting tools offer a great advantage here. They can jump-start your channel partners with the ability to quickly start generating even complex sales quotes and become acquainted with your products. These tools make it easy for new hires to quote as quickly and effectively as experienced sales reps.
Companies sometimes forget the “partner” aspect of channel partners. They are not your employees and not thinking only about you and your products all day. And it’s definitely not a one-sided relationship. If you don’t support them, guide them and make it easy to quote and sell your products, they’ll go the path of least effort, and that may not be with your products and services.
Have tips of your own on channel sales enablement? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below!