This article is part of our “Channel Marketing series” – with tools, tips and tutorials to help you create and manage an effective channel partner program. Click here to see more articles from this series.
Too often we’ve seen companies rush to launch reseller channel sales programs as a way to bolster sagging sales. Their thought process is, “Hey, let’s get the var channel to sell for us for free. What’s not to like about a pay-for-performance sales force, right?”
This attitude, more typical among executives who don’t understand sales processes, can lead to a failed investment into a channel program that costs money, time and customer goodwill. Consider this description of the situation in a old blog from chaotic-flow.com –
The fault in the logic is this – No one wants to resell your product or service unless they can make money at it. Until you are making money at it, you will have a hard time convincing a partner to invest precious time and resources building capacity to do so. It may be that your best distribution channel will someday be channel partners, but you almost always need to kick-start revenue yourself to prove the business potential. And, you will need to share the unique aspects of marketing and selling your product with your partners—which you can’t do if you haven’t been through it yourself.
Organizations with experienced marketing and sales leadership grasp the fact that a building a successful channel program is a significant initiative. It needs to be intentionally created, tested and refined. The development process requires a focused and often painstaking effort. Very often, the initiative to figure out the sales process takes place during the cash crunch times when sales are slow and resources are tight. Sound like a familiar story?
Some questions to answer as you investigate creating and launching a channel partner marketing and sales program are:
- Do you have a proven marketing and sales process that your channel could duplicate?
- Do you have any experience in designing and running such a program?
- Do you have a someone ultimately responsible for the programs? Is it a good idea or a strategic initiative that the whole organization will support?
- What are the costs and expected ROI on such a program?
Over the next month I’ll include some tips to help you answer these and other questions regarding setting up a channel program. In the mean time check out our free Channel Partner Program Review before you start to build a channel program on your own.