On RAD's Radar

So You Want to Build a Channel?

By Peter Brockmann, President, Brockmann & Company  |  August 12, 2010

One of the most popular topics when speaking to service providers is sales compensation. The other is how to pay agents. It's about more than the number of points. Can you support a channel? The commission schedule gets the agent’s attention, but a support structure will keep your agents producing for you (and not your competitors).

Agents require support – as much support as direct sales people.

Everyone selling for you needs to know the clear, concise value proposition for your service offering. Do you want to provide it, or do you want them to make it up? It’s your brand.

It is helpful to agents if the carrier identifies the target marketplace – a few select verticals that would most benefit from your service offering and why that vertical would benefit. All too often it is left up to the agent to decide since everyone is a target. Unless you are selling water, in most cases everyone is not your market.

Collateral is a tool salespeople are familiar with. Buyers supposedly need bullet points. Me? I like providing a specific story that demonstrates how another similar business benefited from the service. Either way, some marketing materials will be needed. In addition, order forms will also be required.

Before the order forms are needed, the agent will need a method to obtain quotes. This method should be trackable for your organization (as a funnel) and for the agents. It should also backend into the order process and the commission tracking system.

What? You don’t have those systems?

Many companies do not have a defined sales order process (online or written). Something needs to be in place that can accept an order, offer status reports, and migrate the order to installation then billing.

Because of MasterStream, agents have become accustomed to being able to track orders and commissions. I have a couple of vendors who don’t have a system in place to regularly send out commission checks or allow for me to see why the commissions vary every month. This is the skeleton of a sales system. Both indirect and direct sales teams need a support structure to sell effectively and with confidence.

Peter Brockmann, a seasoned technology marketing executive, writes the Out of the Box column for TMCnet. To read more of Peter’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi