Why your channel partners are still not “up-there”

The notorious 80/20 rule applies to the channel sales model, where vendors find that 80% of their business comes from 20% of their partners. Despite their best efforts, vendors struggle to engage their partners across the spectrum. When we talk of poor channel performance, the vendors often say, “We have invested in a lot of tools and sales and marketing resources so why are our partners still not ‘up-there’?” Let’s take a look at the possible reasons for this.

Partners often lack critical marketing skills/resources
Channel partners often lack critical marketing and sales skills. A vendor’s direct sales team gets a lot of support in the form of solid training and onboarding. Plus, they have access to the corporate marketing team which takes care of their marketing collateral needs and even keeps them updated on the latest market trends. Direct salespeople know exactly what is expected of them and  are given the support and tools to achieve those goals. Channel partners, on the other hand, are often left to fend for themselves. They lack the continuous support and training that direct sales teams get.  At the time of recruitment, channel partners are provided with a short induction session, given a bunch of sales and marketing materials, process documents and then expected to become revenue drivers for the company within a few weeks or months. Without continued marketing support and coaching, channel partners find it difficult to market vendor products and services effectively.

Partners sell what sells the most, and fastest
Unlike the direct sales team working for a single company, partners have multiple vendors they sell for. They cannot focus on each vendor’s marketing program 100%. Each vendor is different and so are  their marketing strategies, tools and partner portals. Obviously, given a choice, channel partners gravitate towards those vendors’ products/services that sell more or faster with minimum effort. They are not going to engage in elaborate marketing/sales campaigns or spend time learning new marketing tools or attend training sessions when another vendor’s product just flies off the shelf

The Real Solution: Make it easy for your channel partners to sell and market your products
Ultimately, it all boils down to making it easy for your channel partners to sell. Sure, you need to offer them tools and assets that will make their job easier and help them sell faster, but you also need to make sure those tools and assets are being put to the right use, at the right time.

Now, the BIG question: Do you really have the time, as a vendor, to focus that intensely on each channel partner? 
Can you guide them and offer them timely support and answer any questions that they may have about your products/services or marketing strategies, assets and campaigns? Most likely, NO, but you can still make it work. Watch this space next week to learn how.

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