Over the years, I have seen many companies chose to build a channel program but immediately fight themselves on their decision. It is common for there to be a misunderstanding about the role of channel partners and that can lead to arguments as to whether an indirect channel program is beneficial. Some will argue that it costs too much while others see the value right away. Before proceeding to build a channel program seek buy-in internally from key stakeholders.
As a channel marketing manager, my role is to help the company decide which channel is relevant to the sales organization (reseller, VAR, developer, retail, etc.), how to grow and manage that channel, and what to expect out of the growth of the channel over the years.
One of the first things to tackle is cooperation with channel partners, especially with the direct sales team. There are endless ways to avoid competition and encourage cooperation – just make that a goal and measure your program against it.
Of course a channel program should be designed for generating sales and supporting customers. Some examples include:
Setup alliances between direct and indirect teams so that partnering becomes second nature and you will foster cooperation.
- Team sales reps with channel partners when there is a value add to the customer.
- If sales management deals with both channels, distribute sales quotas to promote cooperation. If not, the first signs of competition will show up.
A main part of managing both direct and indirect channels is managing the leads of all parties and creating fair and reasonable guidelines for lead tracking.
- Typically conflict arises when both direct and indirect sales are competing for the same business. Lead tracking can minimize the competition and help management make decisions.
Create a program that fosters cooperation between both teams and you have a win-win.
Tracy focuses on channel and partner marketing at ReadyTalk, building out marketing programs to recruit partners and reinforce engagement with them. When she’s not coming up with marketing plans she likes to compete in canine freestyle Frisbee and ride her Ninja motorcycle.