How to Make it Dead-Easy to Sell Through Channel Partners
If you sell through channel partners, chances are you frequently ask yourself this one question, “How can I get my channel partners to focus more (and by focus, I mean sell) on our solutions?”
If that’s you, you may be missing one critical success factor. Simplicity.
Making it simple for Channel Partners is mandatory due to the Principle of Least Effort. This principle, “postulates that animals, people, even well designed machines will naturally choose the path of least resistance or “effort.”  That means that not only do you need to make it simple, you need to make it simpler than everyone else they work with makes it.
Here’s what your channel partners might be saying to themselves:
- I don’t even remember how to log into that portal it’s been so long.
- Every partner portal is different. How am I supposed to remember how each one works and how to navigate?
- How am I supposed to know which resource or solution is best for each sales situation?
- I don’t call on XYZ industry very often, what should I say to be relevant?
- I have no problem selling widgets, so I’ll just stick with what I know.
Mark Suster, a two-time entrepreneur, turned VC after selling his company to Salesforce, says, “Channel partners will put the effort into training their people, developing sales collateral, bonusing their reps and moving other products off of their price list only when they know it’s dead easy to sell your product.”
How do you make it dead easy to sell your product? There are 10 Tenets of Channel sales you must keep in mind:
- It’s easier to sell what they already know. How can you make it easy for them to know your products inside out?
- They’re more likely to sell that which is fastest to find. How can you make finding the information needed to sell your solutions faster than your competitors make it?
- Enthusiasm is dependent on confidence. How can you make sure your channel partners are confident about which of your solutions they should offer for each situation and why?
- People won’t do what’s hard when they can do what’s easy How can you fit into their existing business and sales workflow? (hint: requiring they log-in to your own partner portal may not be the smartest)
- Early impressions will alter long-term excitement. How can you make sure your channel partners have a good experience selling your solution from day one?
- Out of sight is not top-of-mind. How can you actively keep your information in front of your resellers instead of out of sight in a portal they have to remember to go to?
- The “forgetting curve” can derail momentum before it begins. Since new information is hard to retain, how can you make sure your information is easy to retrieve?
- You can’t manage something if you can’t first measure Make it a priority to know which resources your channel partners value most. You must be able to measure content and resource usage to know which are used most often and by the most number of partners, and most importantly, which resources lead to deals more often.
- Time kills deals. How can you get the right information to your sellers at the moment of need, perhaps even before they know they need it? Can you feed them information that is prescriptive so they can avoid challenges that delay purchase decisions?
- Success breeds success. How can you ensure that channel sellers are successful with your products? You can start by making them the hero. All it takes is for them to quickly find the right product, based on each particular problem, that’s tailored to that particular audience and industry.
The bottom line is that it’s not the channel partner’s job to make you successful. It’s the other way around! If you aren’t getting the traction you had hoped for, ask yourself if you’re making it simple enough for them to succeed. If not, it could be that you haven’t kept the 10 Tenets of channel sales in mind and therefore, can’t facilitate the principle of least effort—either for them or for you.
Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert on increasing sales productivity through the use of tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools