Comparing yourself to others is a slippery slope. You might use it for motivation, but feel down when Sandra picks up a new BMW or Mike lands the big contract. Comparison isn’t always wise on a personal level, but it’s vital in business. What are the competitors doing better? Why did they complete that massive sale?
You have to check yourself against the competition when reviewing your channel sales program. There’s others that are doing it better. You’re probably saying “hold up, my channel’s awesome.” It might be, but it can always be better. Other channel program managers are doing things differently and racking up win after win. Take their success as a challenge and embark on a journey to improving your program.
Fortunately, making your channel program better is attainable. The first step is to care. Care about improving the channel reps business lives, and care about boosting your company’s revenue. Start from this place and you’ll implement the following practices with intention.
Make it Understandable
Sit down with your team to be sure they all understand how to sell your own products. Sounds crazy, right? Of course they know how to sell their own stuff. But make them (and yourself) go through the process. What triggers people to buy your solution? Who are the key stakeholders that make the buying decisions? Do deals take weeks or months to close? If you and the team can’t provide immediate answers to these questions, then you need to perform some reeducation and reflection. If they really don’t understand the business, then perhaps they need to move to a different role!
You can’t direct others (the channel partners) on selling your product if you don’t have an intimate understanding of the entire process. It’s this context that will inform everything you do, from your sales content to your promotions.
Make it Easy
The slogan for 2018 might be “ease of use.” Pull up an Uber, Venmo someone cash, post on Instagram, and listen to Spotify, all within 30 seconds. How’s it possible to get all of this done? Because each app is simple and intuitive. Doing all of these things should not take less time than pulling a marketing brochure from your partner portal. We aren’t saying channel programs are single-function apps, simply that intuitiveness and accessibility are vitally important for a success program.
Smoothing out your channel program means some face time. Sit down with some of the reps and see things from their perspective. What resources do they need from you? How do they pull those resources, and do all of them actually exist? Find the gaps in your process and content and then work hard to streamline the process. Play around with your portal to be sure it’s easily searchable, available 24/7, and has tools for customizing marketing assets. During this review you should eliminate any extra steps and remove roadblocks.
Make it Engaging
Yeah we know “engagement” is overused. Everyone uses it, but few understand what it really means. It’s really an “emotional commitment” to the brand. It’s something that’s built over time and is the answer to the “why should they give a crap?” question.
For the top channel sales programs it means education and promotions. Treat the channel reps as true partners, provide them with personalized information, give them the right content, and reward them when they do a good job. Sounds easy, but the trick is doing all of this at the same time, and doing it in a way that isn’t a pain in the butt for either you or the reps. And you have to make the effort worth their time, so look to tweak your promotions and payments structure as needed. Engage them with promotions that are attainable and make sense.
Make it Motivationally Gamified
Gamification within a channels sales program isn’t just about presenting a leaderboard or running some quizzes. It’s about influencing how people behave in a way that’s beneficial to their own revenue and the goals of the biz. Gamified content and activities can take many forms, including learning that uses quizzes and progressive goals to encourage fast content consumption. Breaking knowledge into chunks avoids the (too long, didn’t read) “tldr” response, and acknowledges that people don’t love to read, but instead want digestible highlights.
Done properly, gamification can increase loyalty and improve the knowledge about your brand. Consider the reps’ motivations when offering gamification and use player-centric technology that’s designed for engagement. It’s less about badges and more about pushing them towards goals. Remind them how gamified learning and competition can result in more money in their pocket.
Gamification also provides you with richer data sources so you can ideally learn what your channel sales reps want/need and then act accordingly. That’s a similar thread found in all of these “differentiator tips”. The best channel programs care about what their reps need, and then make it happen. It can really be that simple, but it requires active listening, the right partners, and a great team that can get it all done.
Finally, Make it Optimized
Here’s our pitch: We have a time-tested approach that audits you channel engagement, value engineers a strategy that capitalizes on opportunities and addresses deficits plus monitors channel activities to ensure that your reps are satisfied and performing. This approach ensures alignment with company objectives and opens a direct channel to communicate instantly with the reps.
Throw in some gamified learning, and then some personalized incentives, and you’ve got a reliable and effective sales partner rep. You have to stand out from the crowds and should look at changing internal processes and considering an intuitive channel program.
Don’t consider just “a platform”, consider a “Channel Engagement Solution” because we do it the best, with the right user experience and suite of features and hands-on support that will help you “make it.”