Your partners’ success is your success, so how do you equip them to succeed?
There are few business challenges greater than building a successful channel sales operation. The benefits are clear and the rewards can be great – no-one would argue that. Plenty of companies achieve it, yet just as many struggle and can’t seem to fully realise the potential of the channel promise.
Why is getting it right so hard?
There are lots of ingredients that go into nurturing an effective sales channel. But in the end it comes down to making it easy…and profitable …for your partners to sell your products.
This is a lot easier said than done however – especially when you’re dealing with complex products and selling in markets where country-specific requirements come into play.
Complex products call for in-depth technical knowledge – something a partner organisation doesn’t have access to in-house. This issue can also extend to commercial negotiations. Is the partner authorised to quote and negotiate a heavily customised solution? Or do they need to get manufacturer approvals along the way?
If the partner doesn’t have the required product knowledge and commercial remit, then where’s the benefit to the customer? Without the above, they will not be perceived as adding value and quickly reduced to a ‘middle-man’.
From the partner’s perspective, the issue often comes down to a frustration borne out of not feeling fully empowered to serve their customer. Continuous product and price changes and inadequate communication is typically at the core of this issue.
If too many sale cases require extensive manufacturer involvement, delays are inevitable and the cost-of-sale increases – margins are hit and both manufacturer and partner suffer.
This can lead to unwillingness to invest in the partnership on both sides. In the end, trust becomes an issue and we are faced with a failing channel.
Your partners are also your customers, and you are likely not their only supplier. A reseller will always prefer to do business with the manufacturer who makes it easy for them to do profitable business.
So what’s the solution?
We know what we want to achieve with channel sales. We know that the rewards are there. What’s needed is a platform that empowers partners to serve the customer successfully.
And this is where a modern CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) solution comes in. CPQ is not just an incredibly powerful tool for your direct sales force. It is just as powerful an aid for your channel.
A good CPQ solution will support your channel partners in their interactions with customers. The guided selling approach removes the need for in-depth product knowledge almost entirely and allows the discussion between channel partner reps and customers to centre on business needs.
This is where your partners can truly come into their own, leveraging their local knowledge and networks. Your partner is now in a position to own the interface with the customer on all levels and operate in a more independent and effective way.
A CPQ tool that integrates with your PLM and/or ERP systems will ensure that your partners always have access to the latest product and pricing information. As order errors begin to disappear and time market decreases; the customer’s perceived level of service and trust in the channel partner will grow stronger.
By allowing your partners to work with, and benefit from, your CPQ solution, you are bringing them closer. Trust in the partnership can now grow at all levels and you have the foundation for a successful sales channel.
The “win-win-win” situation
As sales begin to accelerate on the back of improved customer service, a positive spiral is established. At the same time a strong cost-of-sales situation allows you to protect margins – to the benefit of both you and your channel. Your partners are now more likely to continue investing in the relationship with you.
This virtuous circle is not just a win-win situation – it’s a win-win-win – a win for the customer, a win for the partner and a win for you.
To learn more about this topic, read the Vencomatic success story. This Dutch company operates in over 70 countries, selling mainly through an extensive dealer network. The industry is highly regulated, with many country-specific standards and regulations. Download the story and learn how Tacton’s Configure, Price Quote solution helped Vencomatic to get to grips with its sales and quotation process.