The success of your channel marketing depends on the success of your partners. Just like in co-selling, you need to team up with your partners to ensure their sales processes for your products and services are going to meet customer demands and position your brand as a market leader.
But how can we enable our channel partners to be more successful? That's where channel enablement comes in.
What is Channel Enablement?
Channel enablement is the practice of putting strategies and resources in place to help your channel partners and independent resellers sell more of your products and services.
These resources could be sales and product training, sales and marketing tools and resources to effectively convert prospects to new buyers or existing buyers to raving fans.
The most successful channel managers invest in providing the tools and resources to equip their external partners to drive revenue growth and market differentiation.
Why do we need a Channel Enablement Strategy?
It isn’t enough to set up a channel marketing program and wait for the revenue to roll in. You can significantly influence the efficiency of your program by enabling your partners. Without that you risk:
- Losing time and other resources to inefficient sales methods
- Losing partners to competitors because your products/services are harder to sell
- A lower return on channel marketing investment and market development funds (MDF)
- High partner and customer churn rate
- Lower revenue per partner
Giving your partners an extra hand can mean a world of difference. It builds a relationship and it allows you to have loyalty with independent partners and become the brand of choice in their minds when it comes to recommending a product to customers.
The big question is what are some strategies to incorporate in our channel enablement strategy? We will explore 7 of them.
7 Best Practices in Channel Enablement
Here are some best practices to make your enablement journey more successful:
1. Provide product education
Can you sell something you don’t know deeply? Same thing with your partners. It’s harder to sell when they don’t know most (if not all) of the features and use cases of your product, how it works, case studies, etc. Give them this knowledge through training and easily accessible learning resources.
2. Keep partners motivated
Incentivize your partners to boost performance. But also remember it’s easier to motivate partners whose core values and goals align with those of your company. That way you’re not swimming against the currents. If they are not aligned with you enough to bring passion to the sales, then they’re probably not a good fit for your brand.
3. Focus on partners' needs
If your channel enablement strategy is built around partners, this will come naturally. Remember they have access to other partner programs and can tell you how yours is performing in comparison. Ensure you listen and adjust your program to suit their needs. That way, you maintain an edge over your competition.
You can survey your partners to get a better understanding, set goals and help them reach them, be a partner for win-win relationships.
4. Make enablement resources accessible
According to SMA, only 46% of companies have channel enablement technology. This makes it difficult to provide necessary sales enablement resources in a central location and at scale. Should you have one portal for resources or five?
Also, how do you deliver these resources? Are they in formats your partners can choose from according to personal preference? Ensure your resource accessibility covers everything from ease to speed.
5. Keep a record of performance
Do you know your partners' sales goals around your product? How engaged are they with your strategies? Have they used your resources? This is why you maintain a record of partners' performance. Without it, how would you know how to provide the best enablement tools and resources?
Objectively assess their past and current performance and also assess their depth of understanding of your product/service. When you have this understanding of your partners, you would know the next steps to take in boosting the results of your enablement techniques.
6. Gain intelligence for product/service improvement
Partners are in business for profit. For them to make a profit, customers have to be satisfied with the product or service recommended. Listen to your partners for feedback from customers. Learn what works, what doesn't, and what can be improved.
Imagine how much you can learn to fine-tune your product or service. Also, if you ignore this and your partners' customers aren't satisfied, what's the guarantee they'll bring more customers your way?
7. Provide more sales-targeted resources
Providing marketing resources to help your channel partners, distributors, and resellers attract leads is great. But that's not the end of the road.
Do your partners have the resources to close those deals? Can they effectively convert these leads to paying customers? Understand that buyers are now more informed than ever and thus, harder to convince. So equip your partners with more information to succeed. Resources such as call scripts, chat scripts, and datasheets are great for this.
If you’ve successfully created a channel enablement program that consistently drives sales, don’t rest on your laurels. With the growth of your channel comes new customers with new specific use cases. Your enablement process needs to be revised to suit the current state of business. This update must happen again as you grow.