10 Ways to Empower Channel Partners and Drive Sales Growth


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10 Ways to Empower Channel Partners and Drive Sales GrowthOne of the most common misconceptions among B2B manufacturers is that their channel partners will create demand for their products. The reality is that the demand generation responsibility rests almost entirely with the manufacturer. As a B2B manufacturing organization, you must realize that the purpose and goal of channel partners is to make money and profits from selling your products.

The good news is that your channel partners’ revenue growth and profitability will directly impact that of your organization. So it is in your best interest to empower channel partners with the right training, tools, resources, incentives and continued support. By doing so, you will help your channel partners:

  • Follow up more effectively and efficiently on qualified leads
  • Ensure sound lead nurturing processes
  • Set the right parameters and use realistic metrics for monitoring and measurement of lead generation activities
  • Work in close coordination with your channel managers to bring about better customer experience management
  • Practice the highest standards of customer service for long-term retention
  • And ultimately, boost sales through their channel to drive revenue growth for their own organization as well as yours.

10 Essential Steps to Boost Sales Through Channel Partners

  1. Define your channel marketing framework. Give your channel partners a sound framework within which to operate. If you have a direct sales force in addition to channel partners, you need to ensure they are not competing with each other. Demarcate geographies, markets, industries, speciality focus, etc. to avoid any overlap.                                      
  2. Create the right lead generation programs. Make sure your distribution and coverage model is cost-effective if you have chosen to adopt channel marketing. In order to do that, your lead generation programs, discount points, special promotions, partner incentives and channel training programs must be tried and tested for greater effectiveness.       
  3. Teach channel partner representatives to speak like the decision makers. Executive decision makers in buyer organizations want to speak with people who think and talk like them. If your channel partner representatives speak at a level that is lower than these top executives, they will, by default, be delegated to speak to non-decision makers at a lower level in the buyer company. You can help prevent longer sales cycles by giving channel partners the right training and communication programs to speak the right language and engage the buyer. Do this with your own sales force too if you use a blended approach of direct sales and channel marketing.                                       
  4. Facilitate harmonious market coverage. A common challenge for manufacturers is having to deal with compensation issues when their direct sales force ‘encroaches’ on a sales territory assigned to a channel partner. To avoid this, focus your channel partners by incentivising them to pursue smaller accounts that are high volume, lower price point. Your direct sales representatives should be trained to focus on larger accounts and longer-term engagements.
  5. Train channel partners on your sales engagement model. Many B2B manufacturers fail to align channel partners with their end user sales engagement model. This leaves channels to devise their own, often ambiguous and loosely crafted model. Give your channel partners the right support, communications training and sales tools to help them adopt and embrace your defined sales engagement model.
  6. Upsell opportunities for channel partner’s products/services. One of the biggest incentives for channel partners to market your product is the opportunity to upsell their own. Some other reasons your partners will want to sell more for you are high market demand for your product, a “hot” offer that helps them attract quality leads, full range of integrated marketing tools and tactics and a lead generation program that allows a 360° view.
  7. Objection handling tools. Work with your channels to find out and predict the most common objections from prospective buyers during the sales process. Arm your partners with compelling benefit statements, customer success stories, case studies and client testimonials.
  8. Branding, advertising and promotional tools and support. The brand marketing efforts required for effective demand generation are mainly the manufacturer’s responsibility. Not only does it allow you better control of your marketing messages and brand positioning but it also helps your channel partners to align with the same and present your product with one strong, consistent voice in the marketplace.
  9. Show them how to leverage social media.Many B2B players today have started realizing that volume of social media activity alone cannot fuel demand generation. Unlike B2C, B2B is not transactional. It is structural and complex, the buying cycles are longer and more involved. What is needed is a social conversion solution. This has to be derived and extract from intelligence and insights that examples, case studies, benchmarks and best practice studies can provide. Work together with resellers to develop a strong conversion engine for social media—it’s the one thing severely lacking in B2B.
  10. Be accountable in order to demand accountability. You get what you give; it’s as simple as that. If you make promises to your channel partners that you don’t always keep, you cannot expect them to deliver and be accountable for the sales targets they commit. Have defined processes in place to inspect and evaluate deliverables from channel partners so they get regular feedback on performance and overall quality. Remember that they will also expect the same degree of commitment and accountability from you; whether it is in terms of the lead generation programs, branding activities, training initiatives or any other incentives and partner programs you promise them.                                   

Keep in mind that you may not be the one and only manufacturer that a channel partner is marketing for. You have to work your way towards incremental mindshare before you can expect increased revenue and continued loyalty from the channel. In order to do this, you have to gain the respect and trust of channel partners and then ensure you keep it. A partner that trusts your organization will be self-motivated and driven to perform better.

I would love to know about how your B2B organization supports channel partners for greater effectiveness. Feel free to leave me a comment. You can also email or call me, Louis Foong, at (905) 709-3827.    

Image credit: Shutterstock

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


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