For most things, you get out of them what you put into them. The channel is no different, but too often vendors enter the channel to reduce internal head counts and cut costs, with the idea that the channel is a launch-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.
All to often this mindset has been proven short-sighted. Companies that enter the channel with that expectation won’t succeed with their strategy. In the same way an internal sales force requires plans, forecasts, and strategies that are visited and re-visited, tweaked and improved, the channel requires daily care and feeding if you want a good result. And a well managed channel program can deliver strong results to an organization’s bottom line.
How it Looks From Your Channel Partner’s Perspective
For your channel partners, your products are just a way to increase their own sales, and their reps aren’t going to be focused on selling your products unless they see the value in doing it.
One way to demonstrate that value is to send your partners leads that have a good chance of becoming closed business. To increase the odds, it helps to know the characteristics of your products’ optimum customers, the ones that are most likely to buy and be profitable.
Know Thy Customers
To bring in strong leads, make sure you know who your target it, then create lead generation campaigns to attract them. Offer useful information about the problems they face in their industry in return for their information. Great ways to offer this content are through whitepapers, ebooks, and webinars.
Also, what search terms do your optimum customers use? When they’re hunting for a solution to the problem your product solves, you want to be among the first ten search results. Ideally, SEO, PR, your social media presence and pay-per-click ads are all working together to make this happen organically.
Work Toward Fewer Leads of Higher Quality
Qualify leads before sending them to your channel partners. It only takes a few crummy leads before your reputation with the partner starts to erode. Don’t forget they have other vendors they’re working with. If those vendors are providing better leads, your leads will move down a rep’s list of priorities.
Scoring leads as they come in is one way to get better at identifying the right leads. A scoring system can be based on the title/decision making authority of the prospect, if they are actively looking for a solution and their buying timeframe. Find a system that works best for your organization and your channel partners will thank you with more priority given to your products and more sales for both of your organizations.