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Ask vendors to help you sell

If vendors would work to better onboard their partners, it would be so much easier to jump-start sales growth. Vendors often tell us that getting some of their partners (who showed promise at the beginning) to grow sales beyond the one initial deal is a challenge. When we dug deeper into the problem, we found that the on-boarding process stalled and/or the ongoing synchronization between the vendor marketing goals with that of their partners, were not aligned. 

Here is one example from a vendor:

After the one initial deal, the vendor made the assumption that the partner would run with the ball and replicate the success. In reality, the partner had only one sales rep who simply knew of one client who needed what the vendor was offering. Unfortunately, the partner did not prospect the rest of their customer base. The business between the vendor and the partner came to a grinding halt. Months went by without any sales and the partner did not give any feedback to the vendor beyond the usual “no comment”.

To fix this problem, we first had to find out what really happened with the partner. Once we understood the situation, we implemented the following with the partner and the vendor.

a) Detailed out the success story and testimonial in a story with the end-user and the partner.
b) We shared the story with all of the other sales reps in the partner.
c) We registered the reps to basic web training session.
d) We provided the sales reps with a simple prospecting piece for them to get into the hands of their clients and follow up. We included the one success story and testimonial. 
e) We sweetened the deal with a simple contest of $10 for every demo booked within first 30 days and $50 spiff for every deal closed within first 90 days.

The end result? SUCCESS!

Three additional sales reps started to book demos and started to sell. All this within the first two weeks! Next step was to tell the remaining sales reps about the success and get them to take the same action to sell. If you can do this with one partner, you can replicate to many. Once the sales reps started to do the prospecting, it was easy for them to continue. With some maintenance, you can easily keep the momentum going. 

While the partner could have just as easily development and executed this marketing effort, they simply did not do it for whatever reason. If the vendor did not intervene, where would the sales be today?

This is a good example of scoring a touch down town the channel sales game. The first deal was really a “fluke”. Regardless, you can leverage that to generate sustainable sales. We were able to leverage the one success to generate more sales. Regardless if you feel that it was the vendor or the partner’s failure, this plan worked because it was what the sales reps needed to get the job done. The key is to teach the sales reps how to HUNT and give them the tools to get the job done right, without too much heavy lifting. 

Signing up the partner is just the first phase into building a profitable partnership. Too often, vendors pullback or give up too early. They make the classical mistake of assuming that once they get the partner going with the first deal, then everything is smooth sailing thereafter.  Vendors need to invest resources in finding, educating and recruiting new partners. They also need to remember to follow through all the way to ensure the partnership is fruitful and sustainable. Seems like common sense, but you may be surprised of how many drop the ball. 

Vendors should always ask…WHY IS THIS PARTNER NOT SELLING instead of WHY THEY ARE NOT BUYING (my products). These comments are somewhat similar, but it makes all of the difference in successful partnership development. When was the last time any VAR, MSP or ITSP bought anything if they did not sell it first?

We always hear vendors tell us that they have a lot of partners who do little to no sales. They then use this comment justify spending all of their resources on the few who generate the most sales. It may sound logical, but it is actually counter productive in channel development. The partners, who get it, will usually do the right thing because they see the potential to make money from your product. Why reward them more to do what they will do anyway? With some nurturing, you can easily help these proactive partners to grow. However, to be more successful, vendors need to invest more of their resources in cultivating the next batch of top performing partners.

VARs MSPs and ITSPs should also take a proactive approach to tell their vendors clearly what they need to sell their products and push them until it gets done. Without the intervention, it may never happen and both sides loose the profits.