Successful sales organizations have many routes to market. In other words, they sell via multiple sales channels. These sales channels can be internal. Inside, field sales, key accounts, etc. They can also be external partners selling to a vertical or region. Point being, sales channels can take many shapes and sizes. And sales channels will be different dependent on the organization. But, what do you do when you stand up a new channel? How do you ensure the success of that channel?
One of the most important ways is to enable that sales team. The product and market needs to be right for that channel. But if the sales team is not equipped, you are looking at a potential failure. Keep reading to help ensure that doesn’t happen.
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So What is Sales Enablement?
It’s that simple. The same applies to channel enablement. And all too often your channel partners are neglected. So how do you enable them to be successful?
Let’s say you introduced a new VAR (Value Added Reseller) as an example. How do you prepare them to sell your complex solution? Whose responsibility is it? Is it the Channel Manager’s? Is it the field marketing team? The answer is, its Sales Enablement’s role to prepare all sales channels to sell. You will leverage all resources at your disposal. But the Sales Enablement leader is chartered with the design of that enablement program.
How Do You Enable a New Sales Channel?
Can you use the same approach you would for your field sales team? No. Why not? Mind share and competencies. Staying with the same example as above. VAR’s have expertise in an industry or geography. But likely not expertise specific to your product. So how would you enable them? You provide them training and content that applies to their expertise. And how your product fits in that universe.
Example: You sell security software. You just signed up a VAR that specializes in Security Technology. But that VAR is unfamiliar with your product. The value to them would be how your solution fits into their solution stack. Therefore, you would teach them how to sell in context of their other solutions. Help them understand the benefit to their customers and prospects. You have to provide the ‘What’s in it for me?’ to the VAR. Make your content, tools, and training all about them. Which leads into the next point.
Speak to them in their language. Their sales model might be different. They could be heavily inside sales vs. your field sales approach. Ensure the sales process you articulate is customized to their approach. Ensure the content you produce for that channel resonates and is ingestible. You should gain a better understanding of their most successful products. How were they enabled selling those solutions? Find out what training modality resonates with their sales teams.
Approach and execution: You now know how they have been successful in the past. But you are competing for mind share with the other products they sell. You may be able to leverage tactics you have with your internal organization. But you will need to customize them to fit the need of your new channel. Also, differentiate your enablement program from others. Include multiple modalities. Integrate your training cadence with the channel partners’. Create a certification program that rewards the sales team. And utilize Gamificaiton to drive adoption.
Lastly, think KISS: Keep it simple stupid. You want it to be easy for a new channel to sell your solutions. Create playbooks unique to their process. Create product FAQ’s. In other words, customized sales tools.
How Do You Drive Accountability?
How do you know if both parties are living up to their end of the deal? Easy. Keep Score. Use this scorecard template to drive metrics and processes that both parties share. When you have a process to measure what ‘good’ looks like, it drives accountability. So what is it you want to measure? See some examples below:
- Sales Enablement: How many of the Channel Reps have been through the multiple modalities of Sales Training?
- Sales Enablement: How many reps have passed the sales certification?
- Marketing: How many leads have been sourced from that Channel Partner? And how does that compare to the goal?
- Revenue: What is the revenue contribution compared to the initial target in a specific timeframe?
You can’t let your new strategic sales channel be unsuccessful. As the Sales Enablement leader it’s incumbent upon you to enable them. Ensure you have the right methodology, tools, and process to make them successful. Download the Channel Enablement Scorecard here to help you.