Why you should survey your channel partners

Your channel partners aren’t your customers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send them the occasional survey. Partner surveys can be a great way to see how your partners feel about you, your product and your partner program. They can also be a good way to refine your partner profile and get some insight on which kinds of partners are the best for your program. They can also help you get an idea of how partners are navigating events such as the pandemic or regulatory changes such as GDPR. 

Reasons to survey your channel partners

 Like surveying your customers, there’s many reasons to survey your partners. Here’s 3 important ones. 

  1. To see how they feel about you

Are your partners happy with you? Are there things you could be doing better? Asking your partners will help you spot any issues before they arise and you can fix them before they lead to larger issues. 

  1. To see how they feel about your product

Your partners are selling or servicing your product, so getting their feedback lets you know what issues customers run into when using the product. That feedback can also suggest new features for you to add in your next product or your next product update. 

  1. To learn more about them

You may already have this information from your initial talks with them, but it’s worth revisiting. How many of your partners were able to hire more employees? How many of them are able to forecast their sales for the next quarter? Knowing more about your partners will help you determine the amount of support they need. It’ll also help you build or refine your partner persona. 

What to do with your partner’s responses

The partners who take the time to write detailed responses to your questions are going to be more engaged than the partners who just give you a star rating. But, both types of partners are going to be more engaged than the partners who didn’t respond to the survey at all. Make a note of this as you can add it to the rest of your partner engagement metrics. 

When you sort through the responses, make a note of what types of things come up frequently. Do 45% of your partners lack a sales process? Then it might be time to organize a webinar or another type of training on how to create one. Do 85% of your partners say they’re happy with the incentives you give them? Great! You don’t need to do a thing. Knowing what comes up frequently allows you to adjust parts of your partner program if necessary. It also lets you know what you’re doing well and can help you learn how your partners are keeping up with your industry. 

Sharing these results with your partners and letting them know how you’re using the results will help you be transparent with your partners. They may even offer some suggestions as to how to improve things and offer suggestions on things you didn’t ask about in your survey. 

How often should you survey your partners

You can’t just survey your partners once and be done with it. You should survey your partners over a period of time to see how engaged your partners are, to be able to spot any trends that occur and to see what effect the changes you made had on your partners. 

How often you send a survey will define its length. If you’re sending a survey every quarter then it will be shorter than a survey you send every year. You don’t want to send long surveys very often as your partners will get tired of filling them out. 

Here’s 3 best practices for sending surveys. 

  1. Make your surveys easy to answer

Don’t just give them a question and expect them to write an essay. No one has time for that. Instead give them multiple choice questions, ask them to rate something on a scale of 1-5 or ask them to agree/disagree with a statement. 

  1. Send them frequently, but not too frequently

Time is valuable and no one wants to spend it answering surveys. Make sure you’re sending surveys on a frequent enough basis to be able to spot trends. But at the same time make sure they’re not frequent enough to annoy your partners. Annual surveys would be the sweet spot here as you can make them strategic and pass the results along to your executive team. 

  1. Make your surveys anonymous

This doesn’t mean you can’t gather demographic information about your partners. It just means that you shouldn’t ask them for specifics such as their company name. Anonymizing surveys is the best way to get honest responses. People are more comfortable giving feedback, especially if it’s negative, if they know you won’t know who they are. 

Conclusion

Surveying your partners is a great way to see how engaged they are. It’s also a good way to see how they feel about your partner program and your product. Using the data you get from the responses to your survey, you can spot trends and see how many of your partners may need additional training on your product or additional sales and marketing support. Surveys should be sent consistently and should be quick and easy for your partners to fill out. 

Speaking of surveys, we’d like to introduce to you xAmplify’s new survey feature. Integrated with the rest of our platform, you can automatically send your partners a survey without having to configure a new tool. Survey data is automatically collected and generated in an easy-to-read report that you can share with your team. Schedule a demo to learn more.

How to Quickly Ramp Up a New Channel Manager

The relationship you have with your channel partners is the backbone of your partner program. Having a good relationship means that both you and your partners are invested in each other’s success. As a result, you and your partners are equally involved in driving that success. 

So what exactly is a channel partner relationship and how do they work? And what happens when your current channel manager leaves? How do you ramp up your new channel manager fast enough?

The channel partner relationship

Channel partner relationships are mutually beneficial relationships. Your channel partners market and sell your products to their customers. You get more market share and revenue without having to invest in hiring and training new people. Your channel partners get more customers and revenue by selling your products, offering related products and services or by doing both. These partnerships allow both you and your partner to grow.

These relationships will look different for each company and for each channel manager-partner pair involved, but they all have some things in common. These are actual relationships with actual people. 

First, your channel partners aren’t a faceless company that you can ask to sell your products, but are actual people with their own interests and motivations. You have to get to know your channel partners on a personal level. Due to current circumstances, this relationship building will look different than in the past, but there are still ways to get to know your channel partners. Events such as virtual happy hours and virtual coffee meetings can help you get to know your partners better and start building a good relationship. 

Second is consistently supporting your partners. Some channel managers schedule weekly check-ins with their partners while others do one every two weeks. Those regular, consistent check-ins allow you to catch up with your partners, answer any questions and resolve any issues. Sometimes, this also involves your channel managers sitting in partner’s sales meetings and helping to assist in forming a sales or marketing strategy. 

As you can see channel partner relationships take a lot of work. Once you’ve built that relationship with your channel partners, you have to maintain it. 

But what happens if your current channel manager leaves? Your partner may not want to work with a new channel manager, may think that the previous channel manager was better or may even follow the old channel manager to their new company. Your new channel manager will have to start the relationship from scratch. 

What happens when your current channel manager leaves?

For many people this is a familiar scenario. Your current channel manager found a better opportunity elsewhere, went on maternity leave, moved to a different part of the country, got promoted, ect…whatever the reason, you now need a new channel manager.

 Here’s the problem. 

Your new channel manager won’t know how to work with your partners from Day 1. They’ll need some time to get up to speed. But, you and your partners don’t have that time. So how do you ramp them up quickly? 

How to quickly ramp up your new channel manager

You need a process that’s both efficient and comprehensive. This will minimize disruption and ensure a smoother transition from one channel manager to another. But what do you need in this process? Building relationships takes time and effort but there are a few things you can do to bring your new channel manager up to speed.

  1. Understand the partner

 The very first thing your channel manager has to do is understand the partner. They need to know the partner’s strengths and weaknesses, what products they offer and their history. They also need to know what kinds of opportunities the partner wants and any issues that could prevent them from capitalizing on those opportunities. 

Your new manager should spend as much time with the partner as possible in order to understand them and their business. This can be through having regular conversations with the partner or shadowing them during their day to day. This gives your partner a good first impression of your new manager and gets their relationship off to a good start.  

  1. Have consistent partner expectations

Share your partner program information with your new manager. Ensure that they know what your company expects from your partners. What are your metrics to measure partner engagement? How do you track those metrics? Share that information with them. Doing so brings your new manager’s expectations in line with your partners and minimizes any confusion that may occur. 

  1. Give them their partner data

Unless you assign your new manager a new partner, you’re giving them a partner who’s been with you for a while. What campaigns did that partner run?  How many times did they meet with their previous channel manager? Do you have a history of their activities that you can give your new manager? Your new manager will need to know all of these things. Make sure to give them access to this data. This will allow your new manager to familiarize themselves with your partner’s history with your company and see how they can help your partner succeed. 

  1. Communicate your expectations for them

While you have to ensure that your expectations for your partners are consistent and communicated to your new manager, you also need to communicate your expectations for them. How many partners will they work with? Are they expected to help recruit partners? What type of guidance will you give them? You probably went over this in the hiring process, but it doesn’t hurt to go over it again. 

How xAmplify helps ramp up your new channel manager

xAmplify is a PRM+TCMA platform. It has all the features you’ll find in your typical PRM combined with the automation features of a TCMA platform. 

The platform tracks your partners’ activity within the platform and with our new team update, makes it easier to ramp up your new channel manager. Your new manager will be able to see your partner’s history with you and get a sense of their strengths and weaknesses. 

When you ramp up a new channel manager, you can ease the transition by giving your new manager access to the same information that the previous channel manager had. This can be done by assigning the new channel manager to the same group as their predecessor. The new manager will then be able to see the partner’s history on the platform and any notes that the previous manager had taken. This will get them up and running. 

Schedule a demo to learn more.

Conclusion

Channel partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships between you and your channel partners. You get to expand your market reach and gain revenue while your channel partners get more customers and revenue. These relationships are also personal relationships between channel managers and partners and take time to build. 

When channel managers leave, it’s difficult for new managers to rebuild that relationship. It also takes time to ramp them up. To make that process faster, you need to ensure that your partner expectations stay consistent. You also need to make sure your expectations for your new channel manager are communicated clearly. Finally, you need to ensure that your new manager has access to all the necessary information and systems they need to get up to speed. 

Do PRMs Still Work for Today’s Channel Landscape?

In our previous post, we talked about what PRMs were and the benefits of using them. However, with the channel landscape changing, do PRMs still give you the same benefits or is it time to try something different? In this post, we discuss how your partners actually use PRMs, the challenges of the modern channel landscape and what tools your partners might need now. 

How PRMs are actually used

When you check your partners metrics in your PRM do you notice a trend? Are your partners excited early and logging in frequently but then dropping off? Have they complained that your PRM can’t find information, there isn’t anything new, implementing marketing plans is challenging? For a lot of vendors, this is a familiar scenario. 

PRMs are meant to improve your partners’ productivity as they provide the material needed for partners to sell a vendor’s product. But in reality, partners spend hours trying to find the material they need and even more trying to figure out what they should be doing with it. 

The modern channel landscape

The channel landscape has come a long way since the 1990’s. Products take less time to implement and partners are starting to switch from being resellers to managed service providers, who offer support and best practices for their customers. These providers become consultants for their customers, providing information about the products their customers are interested in and helping them find the best fit for their needs. 

Customer demands are changing at a rapid pace and the successful companies are the ones who can keep up. This involves actively collaborating and eliminating friction areas with partners to seize new opportunities, drive growth and generate revenue.

The easier companies can make marketing their products for partners means greater activations and more companies selling their products and services. Key ways they can do this by co-branding, co-selling, complete marketing plans and automation. A typical PRM just isn’t designed for this type of collaboration. 

Going beyond a PRM

Today’s companies need to use platforms that are intuitive and easy for their partners to use. It needs to have the best features of a PRM, while making it easy to market and co-sell. This tool is a combined PRM and Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) platform.

TCMA platforms enable companies to send campaigns and other marketing messages through their partners instead of just handing the messaging to partners and expecting them to figure it out for themselves. These platforms let companies easily and quickly collaborate with partners as partners can add their own material to their vendor’s campaigns. They also allow partners to easily leverage their own networks through the integrations they offer. 

A combined PRM and TCMA platform enables partners to find everything they need in one place. It contains both the benefits of a PRM and the automation of a TCMA platform enabling a partner’s workflow to be seamless. Partners get to learn about their vendor’s product, then use that information to better market their services in co-branded campaigns.  

Here at xAmplify, we were partners once. We thought PRMs were outdated and weren’t designed for how channel partnerships were evolving. That’s why we built xAmplify.

Our platform offers

  • Cross channel and partner activity tracking

Our platform provides detailed and comprehensive analytics on how your partners are using marketing campaigns and the downstream metrics for those campaigns. Plus you get to compare activity across partners. 

  •  Co-branded campaigns 

When you send your campaigns through your partner, our platform automatically inserts your brand and your partner’s logo into video, email, social, event and landing page campaigns. 

  • Seamless syncing with Salesforce

Leads, deals and activity automatically syncs your CRM without any manual entry or customization. 

To learn more about our platform, schedule a demo

Conclusion

PRMs have their place. They’re excellent for storing marketing and sales materials and training partners. They are not designed for the future of the channel sales. PRM +TCMA platform is designed for evolution. These platforms are built for collaboration, marketing and sales. 

Two Ways to Minimize Channel Conflict

Channel conflict is common. It happens when a partner or vendor’s interests come into conflict with another party’s interests. This is seen when one partner tries to poach another partner’s prospect, when pricing differs, when one partner finds out that the other is getting a better deal from their vendor, etc. While channel conflict won’t disappear, deal registration and other methods can help minimize it. 

Prospects are potential customers. They bring the money while partners and vendors offer a product that solves an issue they have. Prospects are so important that people fight over them constantly

Partners usually find prospects through their own network, through referrals, through their own marketing and through other sales and marketing techniques. However, it’s common for two or more partners to go after the same prospect. This often leads to channel conflict. 

What is Channel Conflict?

Channel conflict occurs when two or more partners bring the same prospect before the vendor. Who does the vendor give the commission to? Is the vendor’s direct sales team also after the prospect? How is the vendor supposed to navigate this? It’s complicated and there are no easy answers….if there even is an answer. 

So what do you do? Aside from trying to solve channel conflict, you can try to prevent it. But like trying to solve channel conflict, that’s also incredibly difficult to do. However, instead of trying to prevent it completely, you can try to minimize it. 

P.S. For more on Channel Conflict, see our previous post, Channel Conflict: The Ultimate Standoff – Can It Ever Be Solved?

Deal Registration and Transparency

While channel conflict won’t disappear completely, there are two ways to minimize it. 

  1. Deal Registration

Deal Registration is an important part of how partners make money. It’s a way for them to share leads and deals that they’re developing for their vendors. This process minimizes channel conflict because once a deal is approved, the partner has a certain amount of time to work the deal without interference from anyone else. Once that period of time has expired, then that lead is available for someone else to work. 

This process works because vendors can enforce that period of time. If another partner approaches a vendor with the same deal, the vendor can easily check to see who registered the deal first. The vendor can then enforce consequences for the partner that didn’t register the deal first. These consequences can range from the loss of money to ending that partner’s relationship with the vendor. 

  1. Transparency

Partners talk to each other. They compare notes. They talk about you. It’s in your best interest to be transparent about who you work with and why. 

Transparency involves clear communication. Communicate with your partners on a regular basis. Make any restrictions you have on region, market, product adjustments, etc….clear. Be clear about your expectations for the relationship and your goals for the partnership.

Communication is key to a good business relationship and channel partners need to trust that they’re playing on a level playing field. 

Transparency also applies to data. Do you know what your partners are doing with the content you give them? How many campaigns are they sending out? What are the open rates? 

Knowing this type of data will ensure that you know how engaged your partners are and which partners may need more support. You’ll be able to see which partners are registering the most deals, sending you the most leads and if they’re not a top tier partner, you  may decide to move them up. You’ll also be able to determine which partners need additional training in your product. If some of your partners have downloaded your quick start guide 10 times, then it might be time to schedule an additional training session on the product. 

You’ll be able to predict how specific partners will handle specific types of campaigns. For example, your partner on the East Coast gets good results with the video campaigns you send them while your partner on the West Coast handles email campaigns really well. In this case, you’ll want to give more of your video campaigns to your East Coast partner while giving the email campaigns to your West Coast partner. 

Knowing how many campaigns your partners have sent out, their open rates and other associated metrics gives you greater insight into what your partners do with the content you send them. This enables you to make better, more informed decisions and allows you to understand how your partners market your product. 

Conclusion

Partnerships are critical to your business and it’s important that your channel partners have a clear understanding of what markets and geographic boundaries and other qualifications they might be working under in representing your brand.

It’s imperative that you recognize that keeping the channels of communications open with your partners is essential. Establishing guidelines and setting expectations will go a long way in minimizing partnership conflicts. At the end of the day, treat your partners with respect, settle disagreements quickly and fairly and you’ll find that these actions will improve your relationships and business. 

Keep It Simple for Partners

Channel partners are typically small to medium sized businesses that don’t have the resources that a larger company would have. Partners wear multiple hats in their company. They sell, support, and help make sure customer satisfaction is high. Like most small business owners they are stretched thin while working hard to run and grow their business. In contrast, vendors are typically larger companies and have the resources and expertise to easily leverage their networks to market and sell their products. 

All too often, vendors will hand their partners marketing content and leave them to figure out the rest. Partners don’t have the time to figure out what to do with the material with all the responsibilities they have. Partners can help you scale, but you need to make working with your business simple and easy for your partner. 

Ways to keep things simple for partners

Easier Access to Training Materials

Give your partners easier access to your training materials. Did you send them a Dropbox link to all of your training documents?  Did you send them an email with links to training videos on YouTube? If your training materials are in multiple places, your partners will lose them. That’s why it’s important to consolidate all of your materials in one place such as a PRM. A PRM is designed to store all of your material and resources in one place. Your partners will be able to easily find the document they need or the video they want to send a prospect instead of having to sort through their email to find an attachment or a link. 

Provide Resources

It’s also important to give your partners resources that benefit them. Like you, your partners are constantly looking to improve how they do business. Give them resources on how to market on Instagram, on how to claim their business on Google. By giving them these resources, you’re showing that you’re showing them that you care about their business which leads to better relationships with your partners.

Clear Messaging

Also don’t forget to be clear and consistent with your messaging. Your partners need to know exactly what they can expect from your partner program. They need to know what happens to their leads once they hand them over to you. If you don’t give your partner this information, they won’t trust you. If your partners don’t trust that you have their best interests in mind, they’ll go to your competitor. 

Your messaging about your product also needs to be consistent. You can’t give one partner completely different product messaging from another. There will be some variation in your messaging due to region, language, ect…but the key points of the message should remain consistent among your partners. 

Remove Obstacles

Finally, one of the best ways to keep it simple is to remove any obstacles that could prevent your partner from selling your product. Give them sales decks, product demos, ect. This makes it incredibly easy for your partner to start selling your product right from the start. 

Key Points

  • Give your partners one central place where they can access all of your resources
  • Give your partners resources that benefit their business
  • Communicate with your partners 
  • Remove obstacles allowing your partners to immediately start selling

Example: Nextiva’s CoNEXtion

Nextiva an award-winning cloud-based communication company with more than 100,000 customers relies heavily on partnerships to do business. To keep it simple for their partners, they launched Nextiva CoNEXtion Partner Demand Suite for their self-service partners. This suite contained everything their partners needed to sell Nextiva’s products such as a marketing automation tool, marketing strategy tips, and more. 

The suite made it easy for Nextiva’s partners to find what they needed. They were immediately able to start generating demand and deals. Partners were able to understand how they fit into Nextiva’s marketing strategy and how they would benefit. 

In addition, Nextiva’s channel marketing team wasn’t overwhelmed with requests for help as they had been previously. They could focus their efforts on continuously engaging their partners and helping them follow up after their initial campaigns had been sent. 

For more on how Nextiva kept it simple for their partners, check out our case study.

Conclusion

Keeping things simple for your partners lets them start selling immediately. It also improves your relationship with your partners and makes their lives much easier. You can keep things simple by communicating your terms clearly to your partners. You should also keep your product messaging consistent. Finally, giving your partners plenty of resources and keeping those resources in one place is essential. 

xAmplify’s through-channel marketing automation helps keep things simple by combining all the features of a PRM with an out-of-the-box marketing automation platform. Our platform makes it easy for your partners to share your content with their prospects in just a few clicks.

Schedule a demo to learn more.

How to make sure your direct sales don’t collide with partner’s deals

Channel conflict happens. It leads to commissions being lost, partners working with competitors and other consequences that ultimately lead to you losing revenue. One form of this conflict is between your direct sales team and your partners. 

You’re creating conflict. Your direct sales team is interfering with a partner’s account or opportunity by directly selling to them. This undercuts your partner, makes them look bad and results in them losing revenue. It also damages your relationship with your partner and your relationship with the channel. People talk and no one wants to work with a vendor that undercuts their partners. 

Unfortunately, we can’t prevent this. No matter what you do, someone isn’t going to get the memo and your direct sales team and your partners will step on each other’s toes. But, there are ways to reduce the possibility of it happening. 

Ways to reduce conflict

  1. Keep them separate 

Your direct sales team is less likely to come into conflict with your partners if they sell in different spaces. This can be done by geography or by product line. Doing it by geography lets your direct sales team and your partner sell in different regions. While they still may sell the same thing, they’re doing so in different places. Separating them by product line lets both your sales team and your partner sell in the same place, but they’re selling different products. Both of these methods reduce the likelihood of your partners and your team going after the same prospect. 

  1. Turn them into a team

Instead of letting your sales team and your partners compete for prospects, make them work with each other. This is easier if you’re working with partners who complement your product. Let your direct sales team and your partners strategize with each other. They’ll see who’s involved with which prospect and come up with the best ways to present your product. 

Allow them to swap ideas and train each other. Your sales team will have a better understanding of your product than your partner, but your partner may understand the market better. Let them learn from each other. It’ll build relationships between them and your partners will feel more comfortable going to your sales team for support. 

  1. Find complementary partners 

Instead of targeting partners who compete with your sales team, find partners who add additional value to your product. This allows your sales team to sell directly to prospects who want your product as a standalone offering. Your partners offer your product along with additional services or products to those prospects who want your product as part of a package. 

Your sales team and your partners can then work together to sell to both groups. 

  1. Register leads

Here’s a scenario. 

Your partner speaks to Jane. Jane then comes and checks out your website. She downloads a whitepaper and her information gets sent to your direct sales team. Your direct sales team calls her and your partner finds out. 

Your partner gets upset because they’ve spoken to Jane first. Your direct sales team thinks Jane should be their lead because she went to your website and downloaded a whitepaper. 

Who gets the lead in this case? 

Both your partner and your direct sales team have spoken to Jane. You don’t know what stage of the process Jane is in. She might be ready to sign a deal with your partner for all you know. You don’t want both your partner and your direct sales team talking to Jane. That’ll just confuse her and if that confusion turns into frustration, she’ll probably decide to go with your competitor instead. 

Registering leads can lessen the chances of this scenario happening. When you register leads, you claim them for a set period of time. During this time period, no one else is supposed to sell to the lead. 

This claim period ensures that the prospect is only talking to one person and lessens the chances of them being told different things and getting confused. It also lessens the chances of hurt feelings as both your direct sales team and your partner knows whose lead it is. 

While you’re finding ways to reduce conflict between your partners and your direct sales team, don’t forget to make it clear where the boundaries are. Let your sales team and your partner know how opportunities are owned. Make sure it’s clear on how your partners and your sales team are compensated. Offer additional incentives to your sales team for working with your partners.  

Conflicts between your direct sales team and your partners are unavoidable. You can reduce the chances of those conflicts happening by making sure your partners and your sales team are selling in different regions, by making them work together and by finding partners who add more value to your product. Having your sales team work with your partners may even expand the number of opportunities that come your way increasing you and your partners revenue.

Deal Registration, the Good and the Bad

Deal registration is a big deal. It’s one of the most important KPIs for the health of your channel. The channel runs on partnerships. These partnerships occur when companies repackage/resell products from another company (the vendor). Partners make money on these transactions through commissions, discounts, etc…In order to ensure they actually make money, partners will fill out their vendor’s deal registration form. 

Having your partners fill out a deal registration form gives you data on a potential customer and lets you know what your partner is offering that customer. With this, you can measure partner performance and reduce channel conflict. Without it, you’re flying blind.

Why is deal registration so important?

Deal registration is a way for partners to share leads and deals they have been developing for you. It also lets them claim a lead for a set period of time and prevent other people including their vendor from stealing the lead. Once that period of time has expired the lead opens back up. 

This is a way to reduce channel conflict as others can’t bypass the partner and sell to that lead for that period of time. Vendors may also offer their partners help in closing that deal. 

Deal registration also offers insights into the partner’s performance. Vendors know how satisfied their partners are and who are their most active partners. Partners know how well they work with a particular vendor and can identify potential areas in which they can improve. This allows both the vendor and the partner to evaluate their relationship and see if it is worth continuing.

How does it work?

Deal registration programs, which are run by the vendor, often offer additional incentives for partners to register the deals they make. This increases the profits of the partner. Each vendor will have their own rules on who can take part in the deal registration program and what incentives they offer.

Elements of a good deal registration program 

A good deal registration program has 3 key elements

  1. Forms

Your deal registration system should be easy to use. Keep your partner’s time in mind. Make sure your deal registration forms are simple, easy to use, and don’t ask for any unrelated information.

These forms should contain the name of the deal, the type of deal, the potential amount of the deal and the estimated close date of the deal. If you are giving your partner the forms through a PRM, they should not need to ask about your partner’s contact details as those should already be in your system. 

 Here’s an example of a simple deal registration form below. 

Caption: xAmplify deal registration form

  1. Rewarding Incentives

Make sure you’re making the process rewarding. Most vendors offer their partners monetary incentives. Monetary incentives can be product discounts, commissions, rebates, ect. 

 If your incentives aren’t the right ones, then your partner has no reason to register a deal with you. They may even take that deal to your competitor if they offer better incentives. 

To make sure your incentives are right, make sure they reflect the degree of effort involved. If a deal is more complex, then you’ll want to offer more of an incentive. These incentives can also motivate less active partners to become more active. You’ll want to think about this and select the most appropriate incentive that works for your partners and you. 

  1. Clear Rules

Your deal registration program rules need to be clear. This prevents abuse. Communicate these rules to your partner and enforce them.

These rules typically consist of the eligibility criteria of a deal, any exceptions to the process, and the potential reasons for rejecting a deal. Each vendor will have their own rules and partners should check them before registering a deal. 

When developing your rules take common scenarios into account. Consider what the rules are for a potential customer wanting to go with a different partner and other such scenarios. This ensures that you have policies on what to do if channel conflict arises. 

Deal Registration Problems

Unfortunately, deal registration isn’t perfect. For most partners, it’s a necessary but tedious step they have to take. Most deal registration programs make that step more complicated for partners by being inconsistent in enforcement, manual forms and having a complicated approval process. This makes protecting the deal more of a burden than losing it. 

Manual forms

Deal registration forms are mostly manual. This makes it tedious for partners as they have to fill out the entire deal registration form each time and with all the information that the vendor requests. Vendors tend to request the partner’s company information, the prospect’s company information, relationship to the prospect and much more. This allows them to evaluate whether the partner is the right one to pursue the deal. 

With automation and integration, the partner only needs to fill out the necessary information such as their relationship to the prospect and what deal the partner plans to offer the prospect. The system will populate other necessary information such as the partner’s company information which should already be in the vendor’s records. Automation also more easily integrates the deal registration form with your CRM so you can review and track the deal registration.

Without it, you would have to either manually copy the information over to your CRM or it would be created as a lead instead of a deal. If it is created as a lead instead of a deal in your CRM, you would have to add in the necessary information in order to change it to a deal. Either way, it’s more work for you. 

Inconsistent Enforcement

Vendors don’t always protect the deals that their partners register with them. Sometimes, the vendor’s direct sales team poached the deal or let another partner work the lead during the claim period. This destroys all trust between the vendor and the partner. The partner will no longer want to work with the vendor and will warn other partners away.

A Complicated Approval Process

Your partners don’t work for you. Partners are individual businesses and have other things to do. They don’t have the time to jump through the hoops your deal registration’s approval process. If your approval process involves the partner documenting every presale effort they made to that deal, then it’s too complicated. Make sure your approval process doesn’t involve much work for your partners. 

Conclusion

Deal registration enables visibility into partners performance. It allows the partner to claim a lead for a set period of time reducing channel conflict. This process isn’t perfect. Deal registration programs can fail if they are too complex or if they aren’t automated. This creates more work for the partner making them less likely to use the program.

To learn more about easier deal registration, contact us.

Podcast: How to Drive Cloud Adoption in the Channel

In the latest Channel Journeys podcast, Lana King talks about why your partners may be dragging their feet on cloud adoption. Lana is the VP of Partner Programs, Training and Enablement at Mitel shares what she learned from overseeing thir partner program. 

Here’s what we learned:

  • Partners are afraid that they’ll have to hand their customers over once all of the paperwork is signed. 
  • Partners feel more comfortable when they own the entire customer relationship. 
  • Partners may already be supporting their customers through the entire customer lifecycle. 
  • Taking a backseat and supporting your partners makes for a better partner relationship. 

Knowing why some of your partners are adopting the cloud helps you tailor your program, shows you’re listening, and makes for a better relationship. 
Listen to the podcast here.

Channel Conflict: The Ultimate Standoff – Can It Ever Be Solved?

Conflicts between partners can lead to disastrous business results

In technology, there is always a way to solve a problem. It may not be simple, easy or cheap but you can come up with something that will work. Business problems on the other hand are harder, more complex, and don’t have easy solutions.

Channel conflict is a really good example of a complex business problem that doesn’t have an easy solution. In fact, if it can lead to a disaster. Channel conflict can be at times a Mexican Standoff where there isn’t a good strategy to create a positive outcome, but the outcome is more likely just failure.

What is a Mexican Standoff?

First of all we don’t condone the use of violence or guns, but we are fans of westerns, action movies, and the Office. If you are too, then you know exactly what we are talking about. A Mexican standoff is when 2 or more people in conflict have a gun pointing at each other. Here is a great image from the Office. 

In this scenario, there is no easy way out. One wrong move and disaster strikes where everyone loses.

What are Channel Conflicts?

Channel sales is one of the biggest ways companies scale their revenue and sales. Channel partners include resellers, franchises, managed service providers, integrators, indirect sales and agencies. These are used by companies to scale and grow. Conflicts come between these organizations and even with the company. Conflicts can be with pricing, terms & conditions, bundling, product assortments and more. It’s an age-old problem. 

Here is an example we experienced recently. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

A large cyber-security company was vying for a contract that was worth over $100M that their direct sales team had sourced. The project was at a high profile company and the establishment of their technology would ensure leadership in the space. They also found out that several of their partners were also bidding on the same project. Strategic partners like Accenture and Booz Allen as well as mid tier and smaller partners. What should they do? Should their direct sales team try to win and make their strategic partners unhappy? Should they call off their direct bid and let their partners win and take a lower margin? Which partners should they support to ensure success; strategics, mid tiers or smaller? What path would ensure that their technology would not be 

Key things the brand company considered: 

  • The strength of their bid vs. partners’
  • Their partners’ ability to succeed in bidding
  • The impact to their direct sales team 
  • Their relationship with each partner
  • Who brought the opportunity first

Key areas the brand company didn’t have visibility but had a big impact on winning the deal

  • Strength of the relationship between each potential bidder and the sourcing company
  • Existing projects partners had at the sourcing company
  • The relative success and failure of the bids

Picking a path was fraught with no win situations:

  • Their direct sales team would lose out on their targets and commission 
  • Partners could end up using competitors to win the deal
  • Supporting one partner over others damages their channel reputation
  • Competitors taking advantage

Who would you support to win the deal? What do you think was the best course of action for the company? Is there a winnable scenario that you see?

Can this ever be resolved?

The exponential growth of competitors and alternatives is making channel partnerships more important. The leverage channel partners have is also growing. What we learned was data and information helped with the decision making process. 

Digitizing the channel partners is to go beyond a partner portal. It’s about getting data and insights similar to what you get from Google analytics. It needs to help make informed decisions, create healthy channel partnerships and support your business objectives. 


Are you ready to get transparency into your channel? Contact xAmplify

The Components of a Simple Sales Process for Partners

A good sales process consists of 3 main things: tools, a pipeline and the sales methodology. These are the three critical components that nearly all of your lead generation activities fall into. First, you need tools to support your key processes. Tools are what you use to conduct your sales and marketing activities such as calling leads, sending out email marketing campaigns and more. They automate these activities for you, so you can spend your time doing more important things.

Then, you need a pipeline to guide your sales process through stages your leads go through before they make a buying decision. Establishing standards to this  process is easier than trying to figure things out ad hoc. If you try to manually keep track of this process, you run the risk of missing important information and losing out on deals. Finally, you need a sales methodology to guide you and your leads through the sales process. Without this methodology, you won’t be able to explain to your lead why they need your vendor’s product. You also won’t be able to convince the lead to move onto the next stage of the process and sign a deal. 

The Tools

There’s sales and marketing tools for everything you can think of, but you only need three. These tools will support your key processes: sales, marketing and customer relationship management.

1. Sales Engagement Platform

SalesLoft and Outreach are good examples.. A sales engagement platform helps you engage with your prospects across multiple channels. A platform helps you automate your daily tasks like contacting prospects and gives you reporting that lets you see which form of outreach works best. It helps you effectively reach out to people that fit your ideal customer profile. 

2. Marketing Automation Platform

 Marketo and Hubspot are well known platforms. Marketing automation is used to nurture your leads. It automates repetitive marketing activities such as sending your leads emails so they keep you top of mind. It also provides metrics on how responsive your lead is to your efforts. Those metrics help you decide when your lead is ready for the next step. 

3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform

Think Salesforce. A CRM stores all the information you need to know about your lead. You’ll use this to keep track of where your lead is in your sales process. You’ll be able to see who talked to your lead, when they talked to them and what they talked about. You’ll store comments and observations about your lead and then later review them to decide how to win over your lead. 

The Pipeline

The pipeline is a process that guides the different stages of your leads in a sales process. It maps out how you get leads and turn them into deals. These leads can either be inbound leads that come from marketing or outbound leads that you seek out. Managing this pipeline gives you a couple of benefits. It allows you to forecast how many deals you’ll close and generates growth. 

The first step in managing your pipeline is to keep track of your leads and deals. Keeping track of this ensures that you know which of your leads are qualified, what stage they’re in and what’s holding them back. This helps you plan your strategy. You can’t keep all of this mentally, so write it down.  

The next is to outline the phases that the lead goes through. These phases occur after you’ve determined that your lead is qualified. 

1. Discovery Call

You’ve reached out because the lead is qualified. They fit your ideal customer profile. They want to know what your vendor’s product is and what it can do for them. 

2. Demo

This is where you show off your vendor’s product and answer any questions the prospect may have. Your prospect may have objections as well. If your vendor gave you sales scripts, this is the time to use them.

3. Proposal

If the discovery call and demo have gone well, then your prospect will most likely ask for a proposal. In this stage, you prepare the proposal and send it to your prospect. Your vendor may have some sample proposals that you can use to make your own. 

4. Decision

In this phase, the prospect either decides to buy the product or not.

Once your phases are outlined, you will be able to identify how many of your leads proceed from phase to phase. You’ll get a better understanding of how many discovery calls you need to fulfill your quota. 

Finally, at the end of every quarter, you will do a pipeline review. This involves sitting down with your sales team and going through your pipeline. Doing this quarterly lets you refine your pipeline, generate growth, and reach your ideal customers. 

Questions to Ask 

To get the most out of your pipeline review, you should ask several questions. 

  1. What is your forecast?

This question lets you see how many deals you are likely to win in a certain time period. This will be your overall look at the timeline. 

  1. Is there enough coverage?

Do you have enough discovery calls lined up to meet your quota? You need at least 3x to 5x that number to ensure that you have enough coverage. 

  1. Is each deal in the right stage?

For this question, you will go through each deal and take a look to see if you are talking to the right people at the right time. This has the benefit of making sure you know the deal inside out. 

  1. What are the next steps for each deal?

Asking this question lets you see what each deal needs to be able to move forward. 

Asking all of these questions will help you spot any issues with your pipeline and better understand your deals. 

Deal Registration

Registering a deal can happen at any point in the sales process. This is important if you’re a partner as it lets you claim your lead before anyone else can. Typically most partners will register a deal as early as possible to ensure that their vendor knows that they’re the ones working that particular lead. This is a way to reduce channel conflict as the deal registration form contains enough information to determine who brought the lead to the vendor first. 

Along with claiming a lead for yourself, most deal registration programs incentivize you to register deals. This incentive may be offered as a discount or in the form of a rebate. Check your vendor’s partner program for details.