Making Channel Sales Work

Author:

Dan Seabrook
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Episode

61

Making Channel Sales Work

Dan Seabrook

VP Sales at Operatix

David Davies

Author and Chief Sales Transformation Officer at Sandler Training

You’re so frustrated that your channels aren’t producing.

Well, that’s 100% your fault.

Your job title shouldn’t be Partner Account Management — it should be Partner Development.

We sat down to talk with David Davies, author and Chief Sales Transformation Officer at Sandler Training, about his book Making Channel Sales Work

There may be 1,001 direct sales books on our shelves, but there are only about 10 about channel sales (and only a couple are any good).

Dave drew on his deep knowledge of the channel world to write a textbook-style manual on the selection process and what a perfect partner looks like.

“Before going out and looking for that perfect partner, we ask you to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’ve got the attributes of a great partner,” Dave said.

left quote
right quote

You don’t need hundreds of partners. You need 20 specialists.

Dave Davies – Author and Chief Sales Transformation Officer at Sandler Training

The Profile of a Channel Manager

In answering the question of whether you’re ready to go into a partnership, Dave described the qualities of a good channel manager.

“A lot of people in the channel tended to be failed direct sales people,” he said.

Fairly nice people, but not necessarily top performanceers in direct sales. Put into channel management by the organization on the assumption that channel is just conversation between two nice people.

“To be truly effective at channel management, you’re really wearing four hats at any given time and so you need phenomenal expertise as a direct sales person,” Dave said.

The biggest criticism most vendors have of their channel is they won’t let us talk to the end user.

Well, yeah. Of course they won’t let you talk to the end users if they don’t trust you and believe you are a successful, professional salesperson.

A channel partner also needs great management skills. “They need to understand that they are in management, but they have no power over the individuals they’re managing,” he said.

Channel managers can’t hire or fire or control rewards, recognition, or accountability. “You have to learn to manage without power. The currency of that is influence,” he said. “How do you influence other people to trust that you’re doing a great job on their behalf?”

left quote
right quote

If your partnership channel is not working, look in the mirror and ask yourself a question: whose fault is it? And the answer should always be 100% yours.

Dave Davies – Author and Chief Sales Transformation Officer at Sandler Training

3 Challenges to Building a Channel

1. You’re Not Ready

“One of the single biggest values you bring to the partnership is your ability to train them as if they were one of your own — because they are one of your own.”

Makes no sense to bring them into a partnership and treat them like a competitor.

You need to have a strong onboarding system, which is something missing even in the bigger tech companies.

“You’ve got 90 days to get a new partner to the bank before their interest wanes,” Dave said.

2. You Don’t Have the Right Channel Managers

They don’t bring in the right people to manage the channel.

Nice just isn’t good enough. “They’re more like furniture than they are causing any kind of disruption,” Dave said.

Find someone who can motivate others.

3. You Have the Wrong Approach

You call once a month with a list of demands: What have you sold on our behalf this month?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

“You’re not investing time in that partnership weekly, daily, to find ways to augment and improve them,” Dave said. “This is really horrendous.”

If you change the term “partner account management” to “partner development,” that change in syntax changes the mindset of the individual.

“They realize their job is to develop their partners, not to ring up and ask for demands from the business,” Dave said.

left quote
right quote

You have to learn to manage without power. The currency of that is influence.

Dave Davies – Author and Chief Sales Transformation Officer at Sandler Training

The Best Tactical Strategy to Revenue in 90 Days

“Teach them to feed themselves,” Dave said.

Giving your partners leads isn’t the reason you built the partnership in the first place. It doesn’t help them in the long run. “The reason you’ve gone into partnership is because they’re already working with the type of people you want at work,” Dave said.

Training their account development teams is better than feeding them leads.

“Invest time in teaching them how to prospect effectively and what the ideal client profile looks like,” Dave said. “Help them to build some obsession lists. Who are the people we were committed to going and doing business with? What’s our approach?”

Here’s a hard truth. Some people decide to build a channel because they can’t work out how to sell it themselves.

Then they rely on partners who aren’t enabled because they haven’t enabled their partners.

“If your partnership channel’s not working, have a look in the mirror and ask yourself a question: whose fault is it?” Dave said. “And the answer should always be 100% yours.”

The Special Forces Unit Approach to Partnership

Partnerships shouldn’t be a land army. More isn’t always better. In fact, it usually isn’t.

Instead, think of your partners as a special forces unit.

“Special forces units tend to be a collection of very specially designated individuals, each with their own specialist skill base, trained to very, very high standard, and handpicked from a collection of people,’ Dave said.

Types of Partners

  • Prospects. It’s a list of 25 partners you’re ready to obsess over.
  • Performers. These are the top 20% of performing partners, the ones you’re going to develop more.
  • Keepers. They sell once or twice a year and don’t take a lot of time.
  • Resurrects. Partners that were successful that you want back.
  • Sack. Let the bottom 20% go. Tell them it’s your fault, because that’s true.

The performers are the ones who are your specialists. “You don’t need hundreds of partners. You need 20 specialists,” Dave said.

Two in each category (banking, manufacturing, public sector, etc.). “These are the very small, very tight part of the network that I can invest, almost obsess over my investments in growing their business,” Dave said.

Special forces units also don’t trample through a territory. They’re sensitive to the industry, the region, and the culture.

“If you’re going to go and build a partner network in Europe, I’d start with one ideal partner. Really invest your time in them and give them exclusivity,” Dave said.

If you come in with a land army and stomp all over that ground, you’re going to get resistance.

But if you put a special forces group together, they work as a team and they work off each other.

Get in touch with Dave on his LinkedIn or with Sandler Training at the company website.


This post is based on an interview with David Davies of Sandler Training.

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast.

If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, you can listen to every episode here.

powered by Sounder

About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

Your Go-To-Market Strategy Done Right

Pete Crosby

Using Marketing Attribution in a Complex Digital Era

Mark Stouse

Retaining SDRs: How to Keep Talent Onboard

Operatix

Ready to get started?

Learn more about how we can get work as an extension of your Sales & Marketing teams to drive more revenue.

Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Recorded Testimonial: RXVantage

Fill in the form below and receive the recorded testimonial of Jeremy Gilman. 

Recorded Testimonial: Qualys

Fill in the form below and receive our recorded testimonial from Joerg Vollmer, the General Manager at Qualys.

Recorded Testimonial: Incorta

Fill in the form below and receive the recorded testimonial of Emily Lewis. 

Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

Recorded Testimonial: Bitglass

Fill in the form below and receive our recorded testimonial from Aya Fawzy, the former director of Bitglass.