It looks so nice on the channel partner revenue graph — a line inclines gradually for a year or so, and then makes a sharp upward turn, the shape of a hockey stick.
Everyone thinks their indirect sales program is different, that wild success is inevitable—just get some partners and launch. But the fact is, unless you have a corresponding expense department to fund your channel growth strategy, it’s just a magical illusion.
Illusions can be fun, but let’s look at reality: Channel sales are an area where revenue growth will only happen with the appropriate investment, both human and capital. The good news is, once you know that, you’re that much closer to operating a successful indirect sales channel.
Make that investment first of all in the best person you can find to run the channel. The problem with tacking the responsibilities on to your sales or marketing VP’s list is that the channel won’t get the attention it needs. If your channel is ever going to experience big growth, it needs someone to champion its success, to know what’s working, understand what’s not—and to tweak, revise or redo the program as appropriate, on a regular basis. Refer to our recent blog post on hiring the right channel manager for more information on how to structure your channel organization and what to look for in a candidate.
Plot a Clear Course For Where You Want Your Channel To Go
Invest the time to write a detailed plan and to engineer the processes as early as possible. Spell out your objectives, define measurable sales and partner recruitment goals, and determine how you’ll collect actionable information on results so you can guide future improvements. Map the process of recruiting, enabling and engaging your partners.
Automate Your Processes
Huge pieces of your indirect sales channel process, if they’re clearly articulated and plotted, can be handled by clerical-level staff—if you have the right tools.
Spreadsheets and email can seem like the way to go when you’re just getting off the ground and your partners are few and their sales are low. The problem is, right when you begin to see a ramp up and growth, these archaic methods of attempting to manage your channel will hobble your efforts. They’re just too labor-intensive.
On the other hand, a solid partner relationship management program is a good example of how spending money can save money and improve your results. It should include an easy-to-read, partner dashboard you can read in real-time to foster the best management decisions. Implement a PRM early on, and you’ll have a foundation for scaling your channel program quickly and taking full advantage of future market growth opportunities. Channeltivity offers scalable, modular solutions so you can customize your initial needs and easily expand upon them as your channel grows without an extra integration.