I work with a lot of companies that supply customers through a Distribution Channel, and the question I often get asked is “How do we increase sales through the Channel Partner when their salespeople don’t directly report to us?”
For those of you who have children, it is like asking the question “How do I get someone else’s children to behave according to my values and expectations in order to achieve a certain result?” Not so easy at first.
The answer to this question is one that is not overly complicated, but one that requires companies to really think about their distribution / channel partner model and how it impacts their overall sales. The most successful companies I have worked with in this arena had a few things in common:
- Clear market strategy shared with the channel partners – By being aligned on how to sell, market, service, and support their products in the marketplace, trust and credibility are developed between the organization and the channel partner, and ultimately between the channel partner and the end user.
- Brand recognition – Brand recognition opens doors. Most channel partners prefer to work with companies that are familiar to end users, thus having a strategy in place to ensure strong brand recognition is critical to increase sales when working with a channel partner or distributor. This is especially true with channel partners that offer multiple brands of a similar product line where recognition in the marketplace can provide a competitive advantage.
- Training and Support – Companies that are willing to provide technical and sales training, and support their channel partners are at the top of the food chain. Helping your channel partners understand your value, the value of your products and supporting them throughout the sales process is proven to increase business. This helps provide confidence to the channel partners when selling your products. They understand how to deliver the value of your product, and they rely on your support to ensure their customers will be satisfied. A satisfied customer is a repeat customer. It is a lot easier to keep a customer than acquire a new one.
- Wise selection of channel partners – Ideally, it is preferable to work with channel partners that do not sell competitive products. If you provide your channel partner with a good product, training, technical support, and brand recognition; they in turn will show loyalty and a preference to your brand.
- Increase business through end user/customer engagement – Many companies selling through channel partners are reluctant to connect directly with the end users/customers, however that is a proven winning strategy. Getting to know the end user/customer, and understanding how you can help them overcome their obstacles is a way to help your channel partner provide outstanding service and support to your mutual customers, thus resulting in an increase in sales.
In summary, companies that are successful in increasing sales through channel partners recognize that they have to communicate well, plan well, train well and support their partners’ customers well. Their key ingredient is Regional Sales Managers that understand their function is to help sell by influencing the end user/customer to make a decision that will ultimately generate a sale for the channel partner. Managing the channel partner is about truly partnering with them to make them successful, thus ensuring the success of your organization.
For additional information on how we might be able to help you increase your sales through channel partnerships, please feel free to contact us.