The ability to make the case for investment in the channel is a key skill for any channel manager.
It’s critical that you become fluent at explaining in concise terms how the channel is different from direct sales. An obvious fact worth repeating is that partners are separate companies that won’t be motivated to bother selling your product unless it’s really easy. Partners want to know (without having to email or call you up) their deal registration status, how to use your MDF, where to access sales materials, etc.
You can try using a spreadsheet to track deals, and manually transfer information to and from your CRM. This will save you some budget. But a spreadsheet’s not a good solution to the challenge of growing the channel. As more of your time is needed to keep up with the data and questions about marketing funds and materials, you’ll have less time to enable partners or recruit new ones. Growth will take a hit.
Show That You Need to Use the Right Tools for the Job
Investing in Partner Relationship Management software (PRM) automates information exchange from Salesforce.com or other CRM, and provides a partner portal where partners can get the content and resources they need self-serve, via the web or mobile. This powerful tool makes working with you easier; making it more likely your partners will sell your solution. Remind execs that windows of opportunity can close quickly, and waiting for channel growth before making necessary investment sets you up for failure.
Make Your Point by Using Persuasive Language
Execs are usually not encouraged to invest in “enabling” partners as part of your channel management strategy, so use language they can get behind: the vernacular of direct sales. Show that you’re focused on producing revenue. Partners will still need to be enabled – to be influenced by you and to be given the information and tools they need – but explain those activities in terms of the revenue they are likely to produce.
Want to learn more about how to make your case? Download our free e-book, 5 Habits of Channel Manager Rock Stars, and see habit #3: How to Sell Your Plan with Confidence.