Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sales Best Practices in Channel Sales

One of the best salesmen I have ever worked with called me last week. He works for a large company that does a lot of its business through partners. He had just lost a deal, and it looks like the partner was not talking to a key decision maker. It sounds like they were outflanked. Everything looked good on this deal, yet it was lost over one of THE most basic of sales best practices – make sure you are talking to the MAN (Money, Authority Need). His reaction was that he needs get out his sales training materials to remind himself of the fundamental rules of selling – he was beating himself up.

Of course, if my friend were selling direct, without that partner, then he would have figured this out for himself before it was too late. It is the fact that he took for granted that his partner would be following best practices for Sales, that was bugging him. This can be a mistake, as in this case. This is a great partner, who is technically strong, and very loyal. Besides he needs the partner. It is just the way the business works now.

How many times have you heard such stories, or experienced them personally? It happens all the time. It could be that a deal is forecast, but it turns out the budget is for next year (or none at all). It could even be that the customer is in pure “Research” mode; there is not even a defined need/project.

There are not one, but two big lessons here. The problem is not just that basic sales principles have not been followed, and that is problem. The more difficult issue is that the partner is a different company and you are not working through a formal collaboration system. If you WERE using a common system, like IndirectSales.com, then it would have been obvious. There is a simple checkbox for Authority that you would both be using, on a simple app on your smartphone, and you rate your exposure to the decision maker between 1 and 5; if it’s a 1, then you need to find Mr, Miss or Mrs 5. It’s a simple as that.

As new technology makes collaboration and keeping sales best practices easier and easier, and the changes in the product landscape (especially in the technology sector – cloud, SaaS, commodity hardware, apps, etc) make collaborative selling more and more essential, then the more we will need to use such tools. We must work better together.

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