This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
In my many roles – agent, blogger, consultant, TCA board member – I get to speak with a lot of companies about their pain. The main pain right now is sales.
A lot of companies are chasing the channel for sales. They think it is great to get this free sales force to go sell their stuff. One problem: You have to have an effective channel program in place for that to happen. (And most don’t).
There are four key ingredients for channel program success: partners, attention, business ease, and positioning.
Let’s start with attention. Most channel partners already have a business plan or model. That’s their focus. Your products or services are an add-on or a complement to that business line.
Getting their attention will be crucial. How will you garner their attention? The one that adds the most value wins.
Partners are where the rubber meets the road. It isn’t a quantity issue; it is a quality issue. It is better to have 50 partners actively marketing your services than 500 who just signed the agreement. If you treat them like true partners, then they will treat you like one. Create a win-win.
How easy are you to do business with? Do you require many forms, a site survey or some other hurdle? How automated are your quoting, ordering and commission systems? How fast can you get a quote turned around? The companies that are easy to do business with, the ones that have automated so that business can happen on Internet time (24/7), are the ones winning business.
In that same vein, remember that your channel managers are the conduit to your company. They have to be knowledgeable and empowered to be effective.
Positioning is important. Selling doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are competitors in the marketplace. How do you stack up? Who is buying your services? Why are they buying them? Where’s the value proposition?
Your channel program has to have all four of these ingredients for success. Partners want to work with companies that know how to sell and do business.
Edited by Braden Becker