Let´s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-be-see
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi[i]
And if you want to sell through the channel, you begin with a pre-departure checklist. I know it sounds tedious, but it’s not a waste of time. In fact, you may get to know your company better by going through this assessment.
You’ve heard the buzz around selling through the channel and how it’s something all companies should do. And perhaps you’re thinking, “Maybe I should jump into this channel selling thing.” But should you? Developing a sales channel program; recruiting and managing partners; supporting partner marketing, sales, technical teams, and initiatives takes up a lot of time and resources. Can your company set up, maintain, and afford a channel? Don’t get me wrong, channels are a great way to increase revenue and build a business — for you and your partners. But as the saying goes, “Be prepared.”
Whether you are a startup, SMB, or large-scale company contemplating starting a new program or revising an existing one, it is best to assess first. Following are 13 points to ponder.
- Do you want to grow your company? Of course you do! Think about why you started your company and what you want to do with it.
- Do you know your company profile? A company profile is a description of your business including but not limited to: organization structure; culture; relationship to employees, business partners, and customers; mission; etc.
- Do you know the purpose of your products and/or services? Take a deep dive into the features and benefits of your product and how they impact your end user.
- Do you understand your target market? A target market is a segment of customers whose needs and issues are a good match for your product or service offerings.
- Do you have marketing and sales goals crystalized? Do you want to achieve market creation, market expansion, increased revenue, or all of the above?
- Are you currently selling the product? Who is selling? A sales team, the CEO, management? Do you have a system in place? If so, is it working?
- Do you have proof of past sales performance and revenue? What is it? Do you have it quantified and understand the overall impact as it relates to your goals?
- Do you understand the channel and how it works? Think about why you want to sell through the channel.
- Can you describe your company to a prospective partner? What would you say?
- Do you have a desired partner in mind? If so, what is their profile? How can you use your network to develop that relationship first?
- Can you easily articulate why your product is a good fit for the channel? What about why it is a good fit for your prospective partner?
- Do you understand why a channel partner would want to sell your product? Consider what the benefits are. What do they get out of it?
- Are you prepared to support your partners? What resources do you have?
Now that you’ve gone through the checklist, take a hard and honest look at your answers and listen to what they are telling you. A good next step is to talk to others in the channel – SMEs, vendors, partners — about their experiences. Retain a seasoned channel professional to help guide you through the assessment and the subsequent decision on how to move forward.
After you have covered all these bases, you may decide selling through the channel is the way to go right now, sometime in the future, or an approach to revisit later. The cool thing about the checklist is it can be used at any time to determine if and when you are channel ready. And not only that, it helps you get to know your company and yourself better. That’s always a good thing.
About The Author
Dede Haas, founder of DLH Services, is a channel sales strategist and coach helping technology vendors create innovative and successful channel sales solutions and programs. More channel sales tips and informative stories can be found in her Channel Knowledge Nuggets newsletter.
[i] Oscar Hammerstein II. “Do-Re-Mi.” The Sound of Music, 1959.