Developing a sustainable, successful partner program can be a useful tool for modern sales teams. Not only do these programs provide scalable opportunities, but they can maximize revenue and lower the costs associated with in-house sales solutions.
However, developing a successful partner sales program is easier said than done. While roughly one-third of businesses support indirect sales channels, not all companies excel at providing their partners with the right technology, guidance, and information to sell effectively.
To help implement a program of your own, here are three of the top traits found across all successful partner sales programs.
1. A focus on relationships
While technology has undoubtedly changed the sales landscape, nothing tops the impact of human conversation. In fact, 36 percent of solution providers cited poor service and support as a primary reason for terminating a partnership with a vendor.
Sure, it’s nearly impossible to interact with your reps every day—especially when they’re dispersed across the world. However, it’s entirely possible to instill human connections in your partner sales program.
Partners need more than a portal to foster growth. They need active resources that empower them to sell. Above all, however, they need you to commit to professional relationships that foster mutually driven success. Work hard to preserve your partner relationship with pre-sales, post-sales, and technical support.
A user-friendly interface is a great start in creating enduring partnerships. However, if your partners can’t pick up the phone to ask a question or expect a timely email reply from time to time, then communication is lost, and partnerships are in jeopardy.
2. An emphasis on development
Recruiting and retaining partners is much like hiring direct sales reps. Not only do you have to put in the legwork to discover top talent, but you have to work hard to keep them engaged. While providing your in-house, full-time team with a robust incentive program is a no-brainer, it’s equally important to provide a structure that also rewards channel partners.
In a recent survey, 81 percent of sales reps agree that incentives strengthen ongoing relationships. Another survey illustrates that 70 percent of best-in-class performers have well defined incentive programs. As we’ve argued before, incentive programs have never been more popular —and competition has never been higher.
That’s why it’s critical to offer programs that cater to personal development. Here are a few examples to jump-start your own incentives:
- Reward your reps for passing tests and/or certifications.
- Recognize activity in which reps coordinate their sales pipelines around your products.
- Reward reps for closed sales.
In addition to incentivizing your reps, committing to ongoing development also provides your organization with a competitive advantage that grows your talent and encourages long-term retention.
3. A commitment to automation
You are busy. Your partners are busy. And, most important, your customers are busy. That’s why automation is a highly influential factor behind a successful channel program.
It’s no secret that the day-to-day of an average rep is inundated with time-consuming administrative tasks and bogged down by outdated management systems. According to Salesforce, among teams who cite ineffective internal processes as a top challenge, 45 percent blame excessive administrative tasks as the top roadblock. Simply put, time spent on tedious tasks is time spent not selling.
Automating steps across your channel program saves your reps time so they can focus on core selling activities. They enable partners to become proficient on your solutions, increasing their ability to sell more. The reduction and elimination of administrative tasks such as data entry and sorting ultimately improve your organization’s entire workflow. And it’s been shown that companies that follow a clearly defined workflow are 33 percent more likely to be high performers.
Finally, effective programs ensure that you and your partners’ goals align—from target customer profiles and market penetration to sales methodologies and profitability expectations.