You know the importance of the relationship you have with your channels in driving sales and revenues for everyone involved. When that relationship is working well, it is fully “enabled.” So, what does a fully enabled channel look like? Simply, it is a channel partner who perceives your product/service line to the be “go-to” one when it is time to sell to a new prospect. It is the one that markets itself, and is easy to sell. An additional virtue of the enablement model is that it takes the pressure off the use of the “price only” sales model. It helps avoid price becoming  the preferred driver of channel sales.

How does great PRM happen? What is the blueprint for building a complete PRM platform? Today we will talk about the first of the two main pieces that enable channel sales The first is the linear relationship corporate has with a partner all the way from recruiting through campaign engagement to measurement.

Recruitment - You don’t hire just anyone off the street. The same principle goes for choosing a channel partner. You should have a structured, defined process very similar to the one you use to attract and nurture prospects for your products/services. This means landing pages for sign ups, lead scoring and segmentation, nurturing drips and activity monitoring.

Training and onboarding - No one can sell unless they fully understand you, your product, and what sales tools work best with what, where and when. More importantly,  they shouldn't be expected to figure this out for themselves. Playbooks can do much of this, then certification programs serve to assess and guide training, and partner portals provide ongoing access to collateral.

Channel partner engagement - Simply put, you never leave them on their own. Campaigns via email and SMS will keep you in constant touch. You guide them throughout your relationship, keeping them updated with your products/services and your end-consumer market. You prepare them so they can sell your product/service as much as you want them to. Ways to increase channel engagement levels include offering timely certification programs, releasing training videos, sharing information about new product/services or latest market trends and giving them new /updated sales collateral. These elements will ensure your channel partners come back to you because they make your channel partner's job easier.

Measurement - You can’t improve what you can’t measure, so you need to know what is working and what isn't. When you engage in multi-step, multi-channel marketing campaigns, developing usable metrics can be difficult. Consider the array of levels that need to be measured. There are the various channel partners, all operating somewhat differently. Each of those partners has individual players working within the organization. At any given point, everyone is tracking a set of individual prospects each of whom is active at any one moment in a unique place in the sales funnel. How can you possibly track and evaluate every actor’s behavior? Automation tools can do this so that you can finally wrap your arms around your entire sales and marketing apparatus. 

In a broader sense, PRM drives channels to willingly take ownership. They feel they have the freedom to market effectively to regional and local markets, personalizing as needed without tedious reliance on the parent marketing arm. Great PRM makes your product easy to sell, so they focus on you, not another vendor. 

Go Green: Stop throwing away expensive sales people.

Onboarding, Playbooks, and analytics are an effective method to avoid the destructive costs of high turnover in your sales department.

Recruitment is a very expensive proposition.  Most managers are very quick to point out the cost of keeping employees who  are not performing up to expectations, but they are not as aware of the enormous expense of recruiting new and replacement staff. Numbers vary, but for professional positions, estimates suggest it costs about 25% of the total of benefits and salary of the departing employee. The higher a position is ranked in the organization, the higher that percentage rises.  For the highest level executive positions, including sales, the figure can be well over 100% of annual salary and benefits. Even more strikingly, that number does not necessarily take in the lost productivity and revenue due to the vacancy and the ramp-up time for training after the hire.   In short, the recruitment process in its entirety is one of the most expensive facets of organizational staffing.  

So why am I bringing this up? It has a great deal to do with the waste that arises from how we manage our sales staff. 

 It’s been my experience that even some of the best sales managers and top level executives still operate on the assumption that sales success depends primarily on an individual's intuitive skills. They view sales as more of  an art than a science; selling skills are more nature than nurture. Accompanying this mindset, quite logically, may be an institutional willingness to quickly jettison low performing salespeople.  “They can’t cut  it so they need to get out.” This mindset is  also  easy to rationalize because sales is inherently  “numbers-based.”   

This is wrong. This is  an approach that wastes significant amounts of money and wastes human resources. There is too much reliance on these inherent skills and too little data driven and quantified analysis of what works best for your particular product in various sales situations. That means the managers are shirking their  obligation their to give their people what they need to succeed. Salespeople–like all employees–need the nurturing, onboarding and proven roadmaps for selling along the funnel. We can’t just  hope they’ll figure it out fast enough to stay on top of quotas. It doesn’t happen and then we experience  turnover as discouraged sales people leave or are pushed out. And that costs money. Lost and lots of money.

That’s why you should look carefully at the development of carefully designed and maintained playbooks. Sales playbooks should be based on accurately tracked data that defines what steps are most effective in pushing an individual lead along any portion of the sales funnel. That includes identifying which  assets work best in any particular situation. With guidance, you’ll find new sales people learn faster and succeed more frequently.

Remember: recruiting is expensive. 

Founder and CEO of Mindmatrix,the leading PRM,Channel Marketing and Sales Enablement Company, Harbinder Khera Ranked #5 in Pittsburgh by Owler

Harbinder scored 88.1/100 to make it to Pittburgh’s top five CEOs list by Owler, the leading  community-based business insights platform

Pittsburgh, June 7th, 2017:  Mindmatrix Founder and CEO, Harbinder Khera, has been ranked #5  in Owler’s list of top-rated CEOs for Pittsburgh. This was the first ever annual 2017 Top-Rated CEO Rankings report by Owler, a leading community-based business insights platform. Owler’s 2017 Top-Rated CEO Rankings report includes all CEOs with 10 or more ratings spanning across 50 cities and 25 industries. According to Owler, employees, followers, competitors, and other general users of Owler were asked to rate CEOs. Owler analyzed approval ratings of the top 5,000 most-rated chief executives included in their top-rated CEO rankings.

In their press release, Owler’s Founder and CEO, Jim Fowler said, “Owler’s first annual list of top-rated CEOs is the only official ranking that provides a true market view of America’s best-loved leaders, These executives received high approval ratings from employees, suppliers, partners, and even competitors, to beat out 99.4 percent of other CEOs featured on our platform. They truly are the best of the best in the global marketplace.”

Harbinder Khera founded Mindmatrix Inc., in 1998. Starting off with a focus on “solution selling” for manufacturers and their channel partners and direct sales force, Mindmatrix added 3200 channel partners to their eco-system in one year. Mindmatrix then expanded to cover new industries, including real estate and franchises. By 2002, Mindmatrix had over 750 real estate companies and franchises with over 30,000 agents worldwide using Mindmatrix solutions. In the last 19 years, the company added to its client and partner base, opened new offices, increased staff, and introduced exciting new features and service lines.  Today, Mindmatrix is a leading PRM, marketing automation, channel and sales enablement service provider and the only company in the marketplace that offers a single, fully integrated platform offering complete sales and marketing enablement for direct and indirect channels.The founding principle, “Helping companies sell more”, is still the focus today.

VIVA LA Channel Partners: What happens in Vegas has to stop staying in Vegas

Just last month, we went to represent Mindmatrix at two trade-shows, the Channel Partner Conference and Expo and the SiriusDecisions Summit in Vegas.  These shows were packed with vendors, channel partners, MSPs, ISVs– all looking to network and connect. It was a great opportunity, and like everyone, we hoped to come home with lots of connections. The tagline for Vegas, though, offers a teachable moment.

"66% of core IT products representing an estimated $200 billion-plus, flow through or are influenced by indirect sales channels." COMPTIA

The marketing for Vegas has been “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Well, maybe for after hours, but that is the opposite of how you need to handle the connections you make at any business conference.  If partner recruitment is one of your goals for Conference attendance, the hard work begins only after you get back home.  First you need to work with marketing for a strategy on how to reach out with consistent, quality messaging. (Remember recruiting partners is the same as generating leads and prospecting end users) Then you will need to make sure to develop a recruiting process (playbook).  If done correct and you are using a PRM platform that has automation and provides analytics on what partner is most interested then you know who to reach out to and what play to run.

"Companies with >60% of their revenues derived from channels, allocate 3% of their channel spend to recruitment. Companies with >60% of their revenues derived from direct sales, spend slightly more (4%)." SiriusDecisions

Recruiting a good channel partner is the same as prospecting and closing the deal on a lead. The life-cycle is the same. Identify partners, understand what they are looking for, explain why you are a good fit, and keep responding specifically to where they are in the decision-making process. The tools that you use are identical: landing pages to attract partner-sign ups, partner scoring and segmentation, nurturing text and email drips, activity monitors, and triggers to send the info they want to see at any single point in the process. The difference is we just swap out the term “lead” for “potential partner.”

"The average channel partner size is less than $5M in gross revenue." The 2112 Group

So, while the Vegas slogan is a good, catchy marketing tagline for the city where you can get up to anonymous antics, it is a terrible bit of advice for developing long term relationships.  Love it or hate it, Vegas is where business happens. The question is, do you want to come home with new partners or just a headache?

Follow these simple steps to beat the house

  • Organize your contacts in “one platform
  • Create a strategy with content and deployment in “one platform”
  • Use a PRM tool to automate delivery of content, track opens and score
  • Distribute hot leads (partners) to recruitment/sales team through “one platform” Recruiting / Sales  Identify hot leads (partners) in “one platform” Build a Recruiting playbook with consistent messaging and clear goals in “one platform”

Cheers to Las Vegas and VIVA Partner Recruitment!