Tips for a Successful Channel Partner Relationship

tools, resources, and air cover to your channel sales and marketing operation. Talk to your channel sales and marketing teams. Find out:

  • What your internal teams do
  • How you can make them more successful in winning channel mindshare and retaining their loyalty
  • Where you generate most of your channel revenue from
  • How many partners you have in total and how many bring in the bulk of the revenue
  • What percentage of the channel you are actually collaborating and communicating with
  • What results could be achieved from doing these things better
  • What tools your team believe it needs to be more effective

Ask your internal teams the tough questions. When most of the company's revenue flows through an indirect sales channel, why is it that we:

  • Don't know who or where they are?
  • Don't know what they do, what their skills are, which specialties they have, or which markets and customers they address?
  • Can't communicate with them at all or at least not through their preferred medium?
  • Communicate the same message in the same way to the whole channel regardless of profile?
  • Don't know if the channel partners we work with today are the right ones to reach the markets we want to target?
  • Don't know where to go or how to go about recruiting the right channel partners?
  • Don't segment our channel partners effectively so that we can work with them in the most complementary fashion?
  • Don't have a means of enabling and educating the channel so that they are more capable and comfortable recommending our product than our competitor's?
  • Don't motivate and incentivize channel salespeople as effectively as we do our own?
  • Don't share in the proceeds of growth?
  • Don't collaborate effectively in marketing—same message, same audience, and same time every time?
  • Don't collaborate effectively in selling—generating, sharing, and closing sales leads and supporting customer engagement?
  • Don't provide the same 24/7, on-demand access to essential sales, marketing, and support information, tools, assets, and resources that we give to our own people?
  • Don't monitor and optimize sales and marketing performance for our indirect channel in the same way that we do for our own?

The answers to these questions will help you identify the weak link and how you can increase sales.

Take a look at the top-10 leaderboard in every sector of the market. If necessary, compare it with the same table from 2000 and 2010. Note the leaders and the changes. The most successful companies with an indirect or multichannel go-to-market strategy are consistently those who make it their business to effectively leverage their indirect channels. They embrace the channel as a true extension of their own sales and marketing organization, providing them with the "equipment" and "ammunition" to sell and market effectively and collaboratively on their behalf.

Mike Morgan is the CEO of Relayware. Previously, he was vice president of commercial business for Sony Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and has worked for Compaq and HP in senior sales and marketing management roles.

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