The other day, I was talking with a Senior Executive of a Bio-Tech company and I asked him what they saw as the fastest growing trend in business.
Without hesitation he said channel sales.
He then went on to say that business models were changing and the revenue pipeline for many tech companies, including bio-tech now include a channel component.
The key, he said, was simply to get right partners and reps in place and have them perform.
As the opportunity grows, so does the mind share for the pool of “channel reps” and that means the reps have more choices to sell.
This made me stop, and think.
We have been developing performance improvement programs for companies for decades, and getting the sales force focused on delivering results for a particular product line or sector has been a core competency for us, and channel sales is no different.
We talk about engagement with participants in a lot of our discussions with our clients and we look at what is their goal.
First, let us look at what an individual is looking for.
A successful sales professional enjoys the feeling when they close a sale (any salesperson does), but they pride themselves in the journey they took to close the deal.
With the end in mind, the sales professional, calculates what an account is worth, and decides based on the comfort level, of product knowledge and industry knowledge whether to focus their efforts on pursuing a target account.
This is where the tactical and strategic difference is between a salaried rep and channel rep.
Whereas a salaried rep is employed by a company to sell their specific product or service, and a channel rep has multiple “logos” they can sell.
The Channel Sales model, which is growing, is appealing to manufactures or service providers because they can focus on product development and customer experiences / service and pay for performance to channel partners, and get access to existing relationships to accelerate the sales process.
As we alluded to earlier, the pool is getting saturated and it is getting increasingly challenging to get the attention of these channel sales reps.
So, the question is how can we effectively engage them to get the “unfair” share for a manufacturer?
The first is find the right partners to match your product or services. Getting the right partner and Channel Reps is a huge advantage, and our team have been recruiting for many years and have experience in this field.
The second is help the Channel Rep be successful.
Understanding how to engage with individuals and satisfy their needs is essential.
Once you understand those wants and needs, you have to have the strategy and tools to execute programs that allow the reps to fully engage with your brand and offerings.
Elements that I have observed in successful engagement programs;
- Knowledge Empowerment – a sales professional likes to be positioned as a subject matter expert. The more comfortable they are with a product or service the better chance you have in them selling it.
- Make it easy – there are lots of choices, make your offer the most appealing and take away any barriers for them
- Prompt Payments & Rewards – when asking a sales Professional to close deals or do tasks (learn products) ensure you have a mechanism to pay incentives on time
- Track your channel performance – it is important to monitor weekly, sometimes daily data. You can identify opportunities and potential problems if you have up to date information
Using a platform, such as XLA, Powered by ChannelAssist, a manufacture can launch, educate, reward and effortlessly payout performing reps and at the same time, product managers can track data, goals and ensure they are on track.
One of the biggest challenges of any channel programs is keeping them up to date, and reporting accurate numbers. As this business model of channel grows, the need for up-to-date data and information is essential to be competitive and that is why we work with market leader ChannelAssist.