Preparing for a Channel Management Solution
We often encounter emerging channel programs that want to set up a channel management solution without preparation and without clear goals about what they specifically hope to gain from it. When this happens, we first take a step back and help them identify what their areas of struggle are in growing their channel, and how channel management software can help. This article summarizes the areas that need preparation we most frequently encounter.
Three Steps to Prepare for Channel Management
Before you go shopping for a channel management solution, prepare yourself and ensure your resources are being invested wisely with these questions:
1. Have you developed a detailed channel program?
When we’re working with a new prospect, this is the first question we ask. If they haven’t sat down with all the stakeholders and worked through all the details, it’s too early for a channel management solution. Don’t get me wrong—you can definitely get on board with a company that will sell you a channel management solution, but it may or may not fit your channel or company. And, without a well-conceived program, odds are it’s going to take much longer and cost much more for your channel to produce. In fact, you’re also much more likely to be facing channel failure in a few months, and we – like you – want you to be successful.
2. Do you have a channel partner profile?
To make the most of your market, make sure you know exactly who you need as channel partners, where you’ll need them and how you’ll manage them. Your profile should strike the right balance of channel partners by geography and by vertical. Engage with too many in the same region or industry, and you get unnecessary competition and conflict. Not enough, and you’re not taking full advantage of opportunities. Prepare your partner profile in your channel management solution before you begin recruiting to help recruiters find and hire the best possible partners.
When the channel manager can track partner results and generate reports, she can make projections that will lead to even better partners in the future.
3. How will you motivate and empower new recruits?
After you have complete answers to questions one and two, you need to determine how you’ll motivate and empower channel partners to sell for you. You get strong partners by providing a strong program. Before you choose a channel management/PRM solution, your preparation should include details on how you’ll train partners, what collateral they’ll need, and if you’ll be enacting a co-op or marketing development fund (MDF).
How will you distribute leads—and make sure partners are connecting with those leads? How will you know if the program’s working?
Preparing by answering these questions before you start your channel management due diligence is the only way to ensure you’re selecting and implementing the best tool for your company.
How to Successfully On-Board new Channel Partners
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