Building a strong channel sales strategy is all about value and adaptability. The interesting thing about channel sales is that no two partners are the same. Each has a unique industry, process, and place you fit in their business model. Two partners who need your product for the same reason will have different clientele, different pain points, and different things they would consider value-added.
The role of a channel manager (CM) is to bridge the gap between what you are already prepared to offer and the true needs and desires of your channel partners. This can be done in several ways. There are general approaches, soft pitching, and ways to go hard after a desired partner. Today, we're here to offer four smart tips that every CM and channel sales team can put into action to enhance your relationship with partners and increase their engagement in what you have to offer.
1) Learn the Lingo
Every industry has a unique set of jargon and a way they speak about their product. Where you fit in the production line matters. The type of business and clientele of your channel partners matters. When you approach speaking the language of your industry, it can leave the same impression as walking in with an accent. It marks you as someone who is not an insider, who potentially has no understanding of what everyday life and work is like to your partners.
So shed that outsider sound and learn the lingo of your partners instead. Read work written by their business founders, technicians, and though leaders. Learn how your channel partners talk about their own products, processes, and where your product fits into that. When you learn the lingo and approach potential new partners with their way of speaking, it sounds so much more like you understand their needs, process, and motivations.
2) Provide Additional Value
Every sales professional knows that adding value is key to closing the deal. What do you provide that your competitors do not? You have, no doubt, perfected value-adding with your usual customers. But what bonus value can you offer to your channel partners? How can you make their logistics, their process, or their selling strategy smoother with perks and conveniences on your end?
If it were an e-commerce sale, you'd through a little something extra in the box, offer free shipping, and make the packaging attractively reusable. Find out what kind of value you can add for your channel sales partners and add it.
3) Ask About Pain Points
There's something to be said about already understanding and smoothly solving your partner's pain points. But channel selling is also about forging a new kind of alliance across sometimes non-traditional industry boundaries. Which means it's OK to ask right out what your channel partner's pain points are and how you can help solve them.
In fact, it's likely to be quite appreciated. Your channel partners know that you're as new to this partnership as they are. They have pain points, and asking is taking the role of a considerate friend. You're ready to help, but of course, they are the expert on their own industry needs.
4) Know Their Decision-Making Team
Finally, go through the effort of getting to know their entire decision-making team. Offer to hold shared meetings, get out the whiteboard, and brainstorm channel solutions together. Sure, you could work with a single point of contact and wait for them to use their own social capital in the process to make things happen. But you are forging a new way of doing things. There is a lot to be said about putting all the important brains together in one room and problem solving from end-to-end.
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