• You’ve Signed a Partner to Sell Your Product, Now What? (Part 3 of 4)

    So much time is spent recruiting partners, so that once they are signed, what then? The company conducts a training, points the partner to the website and says call us when you need help. 

    The sales person calls on a bi-weekly basis to find out their sales forecast. Months go by and nothing is in the pipeline. In the meantime the sales person is off recruiting another partner in hopes to getting sales rolling. Sound familiar? Was this the wrong partner or the wrong process? This is where marketing and sales support can really have an impact in the on-boarding of partners. How?

    Get them trained, fast. Part II already touched on training, but it is so important it needs to be elaborated. Start with how to sell and why then customer is buying. Role playing, scenarios, selling skills, try it out.

    Fast start lead generation – get them engaged. Task the sales people to get joint calls in the first few weeks of the relationship.  There is power in being in the trenches together.  Set up a day for call blitz and have the sales people compete for prizes.  Nothing like competition between sales people.  Fund a joint lead generation event at your partner’s local or sporting event.  Feed them some of your leads, but make sure they are accountable.  This can be part of the joint sales call tactic.

    Incent the partner sales people with an early bonus for new opportunities on your pipeline or closing deals. Use the former if your sell cycle is long, but make sure you specify was is qualified as an opportunity.  This will give you a chance to work the deal jointly.

    Fund a business development person in the partner company. If your partner is a bigger company, this will make sure you have the focus and talent buried in the company. Even if it is half a full time equivalent, if they are paid on your product it is better to have an inside person, than outside.

    Give the sales and technical team access to easy tools but don’t overwhelm them. The best tools are two page quick referenced guides with how to sell, leading questions, overcoming objection tips and top tech tips. Make sure they have the tools for how to win against the competition.  Too many companies hold back on this for fear it will get into the competition’s hands. Essentially, you have hindered your extended sales team.  Set up some quick You Tube trainings.  They are cheap and quick.  If they are short, they can view them in snippets.  This helps with comprehension.

    Send weekly quick tips.  Initially there is excitement and attention on a new product.  Take advantage and have your sales person send quick, one paragraph tips on selling your product. This makes sure you are on their radar screen and your sales person is front and center working with them to get sales going.

    Consider usingsocial media for peer to peer communication, e.g. Senior sales person to channel sales, or Senior tech to tech team.

    Lastly, in your company task one of your sales people to just recruit and onboard new partners.  They should be strongly tied to the fast start revenue within the first 3 to 5 months of partnering.  Once the fist sale is done, the partner moves over to the field for fuurther development. By compensating this way, the focus is on, can these people sell and how will theh get the first deal.  When the first deal seems to be the hardest, having this focus really helps.

    This is the third in a four-part series of articles on channel marketing by Camberley Bates, Managing Director at Evaluator Group.

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