Canaries in the Coal Mine

Canaries in the Coal Mine – Apparently Minor Issues That Quickly Become Revenue and Market Share Problems

Keep an eye on these dead canaries to detect problems before they start killing sales.

1. Small Declines in Customer Satisfaction

These could be due to issues on the vendor’s or the partner’s side. Dissatisfaction could be with the product or with vendor support or with the experience of working with the partner. In any case, you need to track and pay close attention to these metrics. Figure out where the problem is quickly and correct it as soon as possible. Left unattended, they will quickly snowball.

Customer satisfaction declines tend to gain momentum and create more dissatisfaction, even among people who have never used your product. Think about the traction negative comments get on social media. Compared to positive comments, these take on a life of their own as Tweets and Facebook status updates disperse far and wide. People make up their mind about your company or product before they even have a need for it.

2. Sales Management not Completely Clear on Who’s Working the Opportunities

Vendors need to be very clear about the rules of engagement, especially if they have a direct sales force in addition to channel partners. Confusion in this area breeds the kind of competition between the two groups that’s bad for business.

Establish in very clear and certain terms who handles deals and exactly what everyone’s role is in the deals. When those terms aren’t completely certain, it becomes very apparent in the calls most sales organizations have on a regular basis.  Deal registration tools can help manage this without conflict.

3. Taking Deals That Partners Are Working On Direct

Partners will quickly stop working with vendors that engage in this practice. It only takes a few incidents of vendor sales reps going against program guidelines before partners begin to turn their attention to other vendors – and allowing their negative experience to influence whether they recommend your solution to their customers.

A key benefit of channel sales is working with partners who are solutions experts or vendor agnostic experts in the field. They have customers who trust their opinion. When these partners are dissatisfied with how the vendor is working with them, they’re unlikely to mention your solution even if the customer has a need for it.