The Secret Sauce to Channel Sales
By: Bruce Wirt
“You can get almost anything you want in life by helping enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
In my 15 years of leading channel sales teams, I’ve had the opportunity to lead both novice and experienced professionals. I’ve seen almost every style, every energy level, and certainly every excuse in the book.
“If I can just get one more month, I know that some of this activity will begin to turn into revenue,” said almost every non-performer on planet earth. “My funnel is huge!”
The problem is, there is a lack of fundamental understanding in what it takes to be successful in the field of channel sales. Some sales professionals can be successful for a variety of reasons – luck (right product, right place, right time), previous relationships, likability – but these traits alone cannot translate into consistent and enduring success. Furthermore, sales professionals that catch lightning in a bottle will spend more time doing the wrong things (trying to recreate that lightning) than they will building the fundamentals that will result in sustainable success.
There are many factors that contribute to sustained success in channel sales, but for the purpose of this article I will focus on the most important overarching driver: Enabling the success of others.
If I were to ask 100 channel sales professionals their formula for success, I’m guaranteed to hear all of the following: I’m fast, I’m responsive, I’m likable, I can sell, I provide them leads, and I entertain them. These are all traits and tactics that are important, but not one of them can stand alone as a central causality for success. They fall under the header of enabling the success of the channel partner.
A channel partner is in business for themselves. Their goals are tied to their own finances, even if those goals sometimes intersect with the supplier that is trying to influence them. Regardless of quotas, accuracy and speed of quotes, relationships, or anything else, channel partners are in business to make money and support their initiatives – not the initiatives of the supplier. You may influence a channel partner’s selling habits by implementing a quota or taking them to lunch, but the primary motivation of the partner is to drive business and make money for themselves or their organization.
The key to success in channel sales is for the channel sales professional to align their messaging with the goals of the channel partner. Drive activity that keeps the partner’s financial goals in mind, and ensure that all communication flows in that manner.
For example, instead of saying, “you must attend this product webinar to keep your partner agreement with us,” consider saying, “this product webinar should be a major benefit to you as it will allow you to sell (x).” Phrasing is absolutely key in communicating with channel partners, as they will not psychologically respond well to directives passed down to them by the supplier’s organization.
A channel partner wants nothing more than to win, and more often than not, they will align themselves with a supplier who gives them the best chance to do so. If you want to take your channel program to the next level, stop thinking in terms of how a partner can help you achieve your goals, and begin thinking about how you can help them achieve their goals. If a partner is successful using tools that your program has provided, that partner will only be motivated to come back for more.
Bruce Wirt is vice president of sales and marketing at LSI and vice president of channel development for Telesystem. Connect with Bruce on LinkedIn to share your success stories.
About ChannelVision Magazine:
ChannelVision is a bi-monthly digital and print magazine, read by channel partners selling all manner of voice, data, access, managed and business services (both on premise and “in the cloud”), as well as, technology, gear, and equipment. ChannelVision is a highly focused and efficient way for service providers, hardware, and software companies to reach experienced channel partners targeting the small/medium business space. Serving a controlled circulation of providers and indirect distributors of communications, network, IT and cloud-based business services, ChannelVision is telecom’s gateway perspective on how to adapt, what to sell, and how to sell it.