For large technology vendors, maintaining a healthy sales pipeline depends on building a high performing channel. It takes a holistic approach, we’ve shared our expertise in a new guide available on our Insights page.
The use of channel partners is vital for technology vendors who need to distribute products and reach end-customers across territories. Channel partners provide an established route into new markets plus the ability to scale out. Costs are lower than when setting up your own local sales teams.
According to CMO Survey results reported by Forbes, the value of channel partner relationships is also growing – in terms of sales volume, up-sell and revenue per unit. Simply, they are an indispensable tool relied upon by virtually every major IT vendor.
Except that channel partners are not just a tool – or even a service – that vendors can pick up and put down as they please.
As the term implies, partners expect a mutually beneficial relationship. They often work with multiple vendors and usually focus their efforts where they believe margins are highest and sales will flow fastest.
Relationship is the keyword here, and they need to be nurtured. In all types of relationship – professional, romantic and even the sales channel kind – both parties must ask themselves “what’s in this for me?” If either party’s needs aren’t being met, things go south.
That’s why maintaining healthy channel partnerships, and by extension, a healthy pipeline, requires a strategic approach and investment in long-term relationships. It’s easier to succeed at this when you have good guidance.
What are the challenges?
The IT landscape is always changing. Recently, end-user businesses have embraced cloud services. New “as-a-service” infrastructure solutions could threaten hardware sales. Margins on hardware have tightened.
Resellers and distributors – your channel partners – are having to adapt by offering new value through specialist skills and services. Many are still driven to promote products with the best margins and incentives, rather than ones that give end-users most value (or a compromise between the two).
Vendors, therefore, need effective ways to…
- Gain mindshare over competitors, even when your margins aren’t the best
- Help partners adapt and stand out by supporting them to develop skills, offer innovative solutions and grow sales
- Appeal to those highly motivated by margin and incentives
- Simplify processes so you can attract new partners and help existing partners improve profits
To meet these challenges is to meet your channel partners’ needs and the best answer to the “what’s in it for me?” question. Meeting them consistently and strategically is also the way to maintain a healthy pipeline.
Ingredients of a high performing channel
So, where should you invest?
You need to recruit the right partners – a community that gives you the right mix of strengths and capabilities, made up of businesses that are the right fit for your products and customers.
Providing useful sales and marketing resources is essential. Keep a steady drumbeat of communications about your products, offer your own expertise and provide a repository of assets that make it easy for your sellers to sell. As our downloadable guide puts it – “it’s all about enablement”.
Help partners develop skills through virtual or Covid19 secure events such as training, webinars, study tours and workshops. This can increase mindshare as well as improving partners’ sales capabilities.
Incentives are important for mindshare too, not to mention motivation and morale. Aim to offer rewards that inspire sellers, that are simple to claim, and which beat your competitors’.
Once again – doing all the above strategically is the way to keep your pipeline healthy.
Get started with our guide
At TBT Marketing, we support some of the biggest brand names in the B2B tech space across the entire channel to market. We’re experts in the channel and the products you want to sell in it, plus how to manage channel funding programs and processes.
Don't forget, we’ve put our knowledge of how to build a high-performing sales channel into a handy guide available to download for free on our Insights page. If you need more advice, Get in touch with us at [email protected] or call a TBT Marketing consultant on +44(0)1373 469270.