Channel Sales Success Starts Here
Channel sales represents 75% of the world’s commerce, according to Forrester’s Jay McBain. That being the case, there is a huge need for sales enablement to ensure those sellers can perform effectively for their partner companies.
If your company is among that 75%, you know channel sellers—partners, distributors, indirect sellers, or independent agents—have different needs than inside sales reps. Because they are independent, it takes extra care to keep them connected and energized so they want to sell for you and have the tools and information they need to be productive.
Doing that involves more than updating channel sellers about products, services, prices, etc. You must also keep them apprised of industry trends, competitive positioning, and real-time information that helps them achieve their goals. Doing so helps ensure you remain relevant and the channel sellers’ preferred partner.
“You need your channel sellers to be excited about your products and see the value of the relationship with your company—and see that your product is going to be the best bet,” said Jake Miller during a recent webinar, “How to Crush Channel Sales in 2022.”
You want to remove any obstacles that introduce friction into the selling process or make your company difficult to work with. If you don’t do that, reps may migrate to a company that’s “better” to sell for—perhaps a competitor, he said. So, you need to adjust your sales enablement to accommodate channel sellers’ needs.
“You must make it easy for them to sell your products so that they will follow through for you—will want to sell for you,” Miller said.
Specifically, you want channel sellers to use your partner portal, stay on message, and keep up to date on new products. You also want partners to feel connected to the company and excited about its products.
“All of those things point to engagement of the channel,” Miller said. “It’s about winning over your channel sellers. In a sense, you’re selling your marketing to them.”
Winning Channel Sales Reps
Sales enablement must support both inside reps and external sellers. You need to get channel sellers engaged with your brand, company, culture, and product—especially if they are selling products for multiple companies. If left to their own devices, you might get a few who naturally get on board and do the right thing. But you want to support everybody.
“It’s about capturing the hearts and minds of the channel,” Miller said. “And the enablement team plays a unique role in making that happen.”
The sales enablement team is the uniting factor. It represents the company and gives channel sales reps the materials, tools, context, and knowledge they need. If you can do that in a personalized way that energizes your sellers, they’re more likely to sell your products.
4 Ways to Energize and Activate Channel Sales Reps
1. Create a Partner Learning Portal and Make It Easy to Access
You need a portal in which you can share product information, sales collateral, and other sales enablement content. The key is making it easy for channel sellers to access it from anywhere and any device. If you insist on laptop access only, most of your sellers will not use it, Miller said.
With more people preferring to use mobile devices—even when working from home—mobile access is a must, he said. Plus, when your channel sellers are remote, dispersed, or on the road, they have different access needs.
“Your team should be able to pull up information in any situation—whenever they need it,” Miller said.
2. Make Portal Content Easy to Find
The easier it is for channel sellers to find content in their moment of need, the more they will use that content. So, think about how your channel reps look for content. Then determine the common five or six scenarios for which they need content and set up a content taxonomy based on that.
You can also create featured channels and playbooks for them, as well as recommend content. And if your partner portal has predictive search and advanced filtering, that’s even better.
“You can have amazing content that will help your sales team, but if they can’t find it or it takes too long to find it, they aren’t going to use it and they might not be motivated to self for you,” Miller said.
The result will be poor seller performance, or sales reps that leave to sell for a company that does make it easier for them to do their jobs—maybe even a competitor.
3. Tell Sellers How, Why, and When to Use Content
A content management system is important, but it isn’t enough. You must “activate” the content. That means explaining to sellers how to use each piece, why they should use it, and when they should use it. This is especially important for channel sales reps who may not know the ins and outs of your product and may not know your brand well.
Ways to activate content and provide context:
- Include a video that explains the buyer persona the content is for, how to use it, and when to use it
- Share real-life examples of a top rep using content in the field
- Include sellers’ win stories that show how content contributed to their success
The most valuable sales content is worthless if sellers don’t know how to use it effectively, Miller said. So, optimize it and activate it so sellers not only know it’s available, but they know how and when to use it.
4. Personalize Communication with Channel Sellers
Your channel sellers are individuals. Each has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. So, take time to provide personalized feedback and communication. This type of communication will help you develop stronger relationships with them—even digitally.
“The more personalized you can make your communication, the more you can make it about people rather than simply product and process, the better off you’re going to be,” Miller said.
Watch the on-demand webinar How to Crush Channel Sales in 2022 and learn the five keys to energizing channel sellers.