Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Time to Stop and Smell the Channel

If you're like me, and you've spent the majority of your career selling directly to customers, you have an innate mistrust of the Channel. Sure, they're just like you and me, they sell stuff too, but they do it in strange and unknown ways, in a dark and mysterious realm beyond the reach of human vision, entirely out of your control.

It's really not as bad as all that, but if you're serious about your craft and have embraced Sales Process as the key to greater success, it can definitely feel that way. As you deign to entrust your precious leads and life's blood revenue goals to organizations and individuals that you no idea whatsoever which sales process they embrace, if any at all.  The instinct is to keep all the "important" deals firmly in house where you can have full control and total visibility of their progress through your sales process and not have to risk "throwing your pearls before swine" into the black hole of the Channel.

Well, sorry to say it, but this approach in a competitive market will virtually guarantee slower growth, lower margins and continually being outflanked by your enemies.  To stay at the front it is absolutely essential to embrace meaningful partners, and to do so around a commonly shared sales process and true collaborative selling. To be honest, we all need to get that place of trust where we eagerly hand off the best leads with the biggest upside to the right partners.  It's often the partners who have the better relationships within the customers and hence a much better chance to actually close the business.  You just have to know that your partner knows how to best sell your product.  It's easier said than done, but with today's convergence of major technologies like mobility, digital business process, the API economy and the Cloud, the previously unimaginable has become not just possible, but essential.  The key is SaaS-based Chanel Sales Automation with a mobile app at the front end which will accommodate a customized sales processes, real deal progress scoring, and a digital Sales Battle-card, with API integration to all of the major CRM and Sales Automation tools currently in use.  Every member of your Channel organization may be using their own CRM or Sales Automation tool, but as the vendor at the top of the food chain you can mandate your own common sales process to  be used to sell your products, and at the same time provide your own "Digital Sales Battle-card" within the mobile app that greatly aids in onboarding new partners with minimal training and ensures they are following your own best sales practices to close more deals.  All of this can easily integrate into their own CRM using available API's to reduce double entry.

The Channel has been around for a long time, but today's greater level of competition and demand for efficiency requires that we all take another look at how we can optimize our Channel investment for far better results, and the good news is that once again, technology has provides the means to do just that.

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