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What are Channel Partner Sales?

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Channel Partner Sales differ from direct sales in that they are completed by an external sales network that does not include full-time employees of the company. It is an outsourcing of sales activities and operations, either by retailers or distributors – third parties in the supply chain of a business. 

Channel partners are critical to any company’s business as they communicate to customers. They do provide much value to manufacturing companies that also have their own online business strategy on top of the more traditional supply chain operations.

However, companies can experience challenges when working with channel partners and resellers, such as: 

  • Inaccurate salesforce data 
  • Unclear lead nurturing visibility
  • Ineffective online business strategy
  • Overdue retailer referral fees 
  • Long lead response time 
  • Unidentified gaps in sales channel
  • Missed new market or customer opportunities
  • Low ROI on marketing campaigns

Nowadays, digital marketing is vital to any business. Potential buyers in the consideration phase researches the company prior to making a purchase, and a website is the best way to communicate a company’s value proposition.

If a website visitor is considered a sale qualified lead, it is advantageous for the company as well as its retailer network to be made aware so that a sales rep can follow up with the potential buyers with the necessary interactions. 

There are ways to improve sales outcomes for leads sent to channel partners with more efficiency, decreased response time, and an increased likelihood of a successful closed sale that was sourced through digital means. 

Automated opportunity routing to channel partners

Distributed sales processes can be improved through opportunity routing, using automation to connect a lead with the right channel partner, every single time. This is possible through three specific steps.

1.    Identify the intent

From interest to consideration, there are many different reasons why a visitor scrolls your company website. A visitor may be browsing, searching for an answer, or in need to speak with a representative.

Whether its learning something new or considering a purchase, a business model should outline a company’s response based on what a potential customer is looking for, in the most effective manner.

Avoid having a channel partner wasting unnecessary time dealing with a visitor that doesn’t intend on spending money.

2.    Qualify the need

Once it is understood that a visitor will have an experience beyond browsing, it is important to qualify the need. For example, it is critical to understand what product or service the visitor is interested in and where the visitor is located geographically.

Determine which retailer or distributor should be accountable for responding. At the same time, potential customers that are ready, able and willing to make a purchase should higher on the priority list. 

3.    Connect the lead

Finally, make sure that the door that is knocked on gets answered! A salesperson located miles away, who specializes in a different product, should not be the individual responsible.  

A lead that goes without an immediate response decreases the likelihood of successfully closing a sale. The most appropriate salesperson available with the proper skillset located in the closest region is the one who should be quickly answering “I’m here!”

Engaging your channel partners with the help of technology

Inbound leads are critical sales opportunities, and must get into the right salesperson’s hands in the least amount of time.  Simply throwing a lead into a CRM platform does not mean that the three steps above are happening. You can’t ensure that the right information gets into the right person’s hands or that the sales process and contact management are happening.

As more marketing spend continues to shift online, lead distribution and management are under more scrutiny. Having visibility throughout all sales channels is more important today than ever before.  

Sales process technologies are built to help sales teams face uphill challenges dealing with their individual business portfolios. However, ask any salesperson about updating their CRM and wait for the immediate hesitation. The benefits of technology is meaningless, regardless of its intent, without proper user adoption.

Technology that does not immediately improve sales operations will meet with some pushback, and this is expected. The goal of technology is to enhance capacity, extend customer base, and reduce inefficiencies; not to add to a never ending to do list. Too often, this is forgotten.

Adoption of technology is a key component in managing sales performance, and the simplicity of implementation will promote its use. So, how are directors going to engage their channel partners? Research into adaptability, functionality, and value-add partner programs can occur without reseller involvement. 

Furthermore, expecting a team of channel partners and their sales agents to download a mobile application, create an account, and input settings will only add another few tasks on their low priority to do list. Using time and effort to complete these tasks only takes away from what your best salespeople should be focusing on – opportunity nurturing and closing.

The best way to initiate a new channel partner program is to make their adoption straight forward and its value stand out. No apps to download, no setup, no account preferences; just click to claim and contact while you analyze.

Little involvement, straight forward adoption, minor learning curve, and useable data will help to engage your sales team to adopt to a new platform, reaping the benefits of technology and fast. But what can visibility into your channel partnerships do for marketing?

Connecting sales and marketing

Gone are the days of separated and isolated sales teams and marketing teams. The wall that traditionally stood between the two groups has increasingly been breaking down. Working together is a necessity to support the sales process with potential customers. There is still a distinction between end customer facing and partner program marketing – yet a company cannot be successful in one area without consulting the other. 

Clear communication and alignment are critical for partner relationships. Understanding the customer base the salespeople are interacting with helps to define the company’s audience, which in turn directs how the marketing team designs their content and campaigns.

Meanwhile, the avenue potential customers take defines how sales teams respond and strategize their relationship with a lead. This information is not isolated per team, but rather created and used by both teams. This allows each team to work off the same data foundation for the same future goal: growth. This is where a sophisticated lead management platform comes into play.  

The Connection: Lead Management

The concept of managing leads involves the following tactics: attract leads, respond to leads, nurture a lead relationship, and provide feedback to the organization based on interacting with a lead. Where and how these occur connects the channel partners with the marketing teams.

Attraction

Generally, this is where marketing shines. The team works to attract potential customers in hopes of creating a valuable lead that can be followed up on.

Response

The marketing team brought the potential buyer to the door, now the channel partner or retailer needs to be prepared to answer it. This stage continues to be one of the most important as quicker response times tend to increase the likelihood of a successful transaction.

Nurturing

The sales team proves their strength in closing deals in this stage, which includes understanding of the customers’ problems and expectations. 

Feedback

Post-interaction, the baton is passed back to the marketing team from the sales team. Through the sales team’s experience and their resulting feedback data, the marketing team can adjust its channel strategy to have a larger impact and increasing customer base in the attraction stage. 

It becomes clear that partner relationship management is an ever-evolving cycle of data analysis, communication and improved sales strategy. 

Amplify your Partner Program with Real-Time Data

Improved channel sales resulting from opportunity routing are enhanced only through the integration of real-time data. Historical data provides trends and should be used to help implement company-wide strategies and multi-year plans. Yet real-time data should be used for today’s decisions, about today’s issues, responding to today’s opportunities.

Enterprises often have to deal with a delay in receiving useable sales data that will help with today’s issues. Instead, managers strategize team goals and rate performance using historical data. Large corporations with thousands of employees must adopt or update software that can provide useful and current information today. 

Quick contact to a properly qualified potential customer is getting increasingly important in the likelihood of a successful transaction. Connect with smart lead routing and enhance with real-time data. This will allow information to be easily pulled in a readable manner to eliminate delays and bottlenecks immediately.  As a result, leads will be connected to salespeople and existing customers will reach technical support.In conclusion, an advanced AI and customizable lead management platform will improve channel partnerships. Lead Assign uses a comprehensive dashboard to track lead response times, agent performance, follow-up details, and a host of detailed analytics to measure your lead programs. Our professional service and systems integrators ensure direct 

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