Channel marketing works well in theory. Doesn’t it?
Your dealers and distributors are your channel partners. You give them the product information they need, tell them how to position your brand and products in the marketplace, then free them to prospect, pitch, present, and propose.
The theory behind channel marketing is that you manage your business, and your channel partners manage all or a portion of your sales, including managing the sales pipeline and customer relationships. You rely on the expertise of your dealers and distributors to meet the unique needs of loyal customers, while simultaneously hunting for new customers in existing and new markets.
The reality of channel marketing, of course, is somewhat different, though. Some dealers and distributors generate amazing results, represent your brand and product portfolio well, and are a delight to work with. But other channel partners do not live up to your expectations, they fail to meet your sales quotas, and at the end of the day, they struggle to sell for you.
It’s likely that your channel partners struggle for any one of four main reasons. Once you understand their struggles, you can empower your dealer and distributor network to improve their performance. Let’s explore those top four reasons.
1. Lack of Easy Access to Sales Content
Channel partners don’t generally struggle to sell because they lack information. They struggle because they lack access to the right information at the right time and in the right place. You can create product brochures, sell sheets, product specification sheets, pricing sheets, ROI calculators, warranty information and plenty of other vital content. But unless this information is easy to access from any location at any time and on any device, your dealers and distributors will struggle to sell it for you.
What your channel partners need is a channel marketing enablement platform that makes your sales content available from anywhere via a mobile-friendly app. Make your content available on smartphones, tablets, and laptops during sales calls and field meetings, and empower your channel partners to have meaningful and profitable sales conversations.
The best channel enablement platforms offer offline access to entire libraries of downloadable information when Internet access is unavailable (think spotty Wi-Fi access in remote customer sites). They also offer alerts, notifications, and other telematics to help your partners monitor equipment, orders, service calls, and more. This enables your sales channel support teams to react quickly (even proactively) to customer requests and to resolve conflicts that otherwise jeopardize profitability.
2. Stalled Pipelines
As your buyers move through their buyer journey, they have questions, objections, challenges, and pain points that they need your dealers and distributors to address. The longer your channel partners take to address these concerns, the longer the sales cycle. And the longer the buyer journey, the more likely you are to see your pipeline stall.
Buyer challenges pop up in multiple places in your pipeline, sometimes predictably and sometimes without notice. They occur during face-to-face sales interactions, and they happen by email and over the phone. But whether buyer challenges become an insurmountable obstacle or an incredible opportunity depends largely on how quickly your partners provide viable resolutions.
This puts the owness on you to make all sales information more transparent to expedite the sales cycle. For example, you should ensure that all leads that your channel partners capture get integrated directly into your CRM and marketing automation platforms. Your goal is to give your entire organization—including key sales channel stakeholders—the vital customer insights they need to work collectively to drive more sales.
3. Disjointed Messaging
You know what your unique selling proposition is. You can articulate your marketplace differentiators. But what about your channel partners? One of the leading causes of poor performance for dealers and distributors is fragmented messaging.
Your dealers and distributors will use any information they can find to share with potential customers. If you give them resources that tell them how to position your products, they will use them. If you don’t supply these resources, they will create their own. They will craft elevator pitches, positioning statements, and other messaging that fill the gaps but are not aligned with your go-to-market strategy. This inaccurate and conflicting messaging confuses prospects, delays purchasing decisions, and derails deals.
The solution to disjointed messaging is unified collaboration. Collaborate with your sales channel partners using a channel-marketing enablement platform that helps them deliver consistent brand and product messages that drive higher performance for partner-enablement initiatives.
This simple platform unifies your messages from the factory floor to the most remote field office. It puts only approved, branded materials and collateral in the hands of your channel partners, such as product positioning messages, elevator pitches, up-to-date price lists, accurate inventory counts, videos, and more.
4. Lack of Engagement
You can have the most helpful and robust channel partner program on the planet, but if your dealers and distributors fail to use it to its potential, their (aka your) sales results will suffer. The key to success with channel partners is engagement. They must engage with your sales content and channel resources to be successful.
One way to boost engagement is to deploy a channel marketing platform that’s designed to optimize content consumption and program uptake. The best platforms offer sales content, just-in-time learning modules, go-to-market programs, product rollout resources and other resources to help dealer and distributor reps quickly gain confidence selling your products.
Effective channel partner platforms are designed to make it easy for you to distribute appropriate content to each dealer and distributor—and easy for them to consume that content and share it with buyers.
Empower Your Dealers & Distributors, Win More Sales
The secret to improving sales through your channel partners is empowerment. You must give them the sales content, selling tools, product messaging and other resources they need to sell for you. But you must also provide these resources through a simple platform that works on any device (desktop PC, laptop, tablet, phone), and that delivers up-to-date content 24/7, anywhere. When you remove the barriers that your channel partners face when selling your products and services, you improve their performance—and your success.